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Sample records for african savanna elephants

  1. Distinguishing forest and savanna African elephants using short nuclear DNA sequences.

    PubMed

    Ishida, Yasuko; Demeke, Yirmed; van Coeverden de Groot, Peter J; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Leggett, Keith E A; Fox, Virginia E; Roca, Alfred L

    2011-01-01

    A more complete description of African elephant phylogeography would require a method that distinguishes forest and savanna elephants using DNA from low-quality samples. Although mitochondrial DNA is often the marker of choice for species identification, the unusual cytonuclear patterns in African elephants make nuclear markers more reliable. We therefore designed and utilized genetic markers for short nuclear DNA regions that contain fixed nucleotide differences between forest and savanna elephants. We used M13 forward and reverse sequences to increase the total length of PCR amplicons and to improve the quality of sequences for the target DNA. We successfully sequenced fragments of nuclear genes from dung samples of known savanna and forest elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Namibia. Elephants at previously unexamined locations were found to have nucleotide character states consistent with their status as savanna or forest elephants. Using these and results from previous studies, we estimated that the short-amplicon nuclear markers could distinguish forest from savanna African elephants with more than 99% accuracy. Nuclear genotyping of museum, dung, or ivory samples will provide better-informed conservation management of Africa's elephants.

  2. Synergistic effects of fire and elephants on arboreal animals in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Kimuyu, Duncan M; Sensenig, Ryan L; Palmer, Todd M; Riginos, Corinna; Veblen, Kari E; Young, Truman P

    2015-11-01

    Disturbance is a crucial determinant of animal abundance, distribution and community structure in many ecosystems, but the ways in which multiple disturbance types interact remain poorly understood. The effects of multiple-disturbance interactions can be additive, subadditive or super-additive (synergistic). Synergistic effects in particular can accelerate ecological change; thus, characterizing such synergies, the conditions under which they arise, and how long they persist has been identified as a major goal of ecology. We factorially manipulated two principal sources of disturbance in African savannas, fire and elephants, and measured their independent and interactive effects on the numerically dominant vertebrate (the arboreal gekkonid lizard Lygodactylus keniensis) and invertebrate (a guild of symbiotic Acacia ants) animal species in a semi-arid Kenyan savanna. Elephant exclusion alone (minus fire) had negligible effects on gecko density. Fire alone (minus elephants) had negligible effects on gecko density after 4 months, but increased gecko density twofold after 16 months, likely because the decay of fire-damaged woody biomass created refuges and nest sites for geckos. In the presence of elephants, fire increased gecko density nearly threefold within 4 months of the experimental burn; this occurred because fire increased the incidence of elephant damage to trees, which in turn improved microhabitat quality for geckos. However, this synergistic positive effect of fire and elephants attenuated over the ensuing year, such that only the main effect of fire was evident after 16 months. Fire also altered the structure of symbiotic plant-ant assemblages occupying the dominant tree species (Acacia drepanolobium); this influenced gecko habitat selection but did not explain the synergistic effect of fire and elephants. However, fire-driven shifts in plant-ant occupancy may have indirectly mediated this effect by increasing trees' susceptibility to elephant damage. Our

  3. Testing the Accuracy of Aerial Surveys for Large Mammals: An Experiment with African Savanna Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    Schlossberg, Scott; Chase, Michael J.; Griffin, Curtice R.

    2016-01-01

    Accurate counts of animals are critical for prioritizing conservation efforts. Past research, however, suggests that observers on aerial surveys may fail to detect all individuals of the target species present in the survey area. Such errors could bias population estimates low and confound trend estimation. We used two approaches to assess the accuracy of aerial surveys for African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) in northern Botswana. First, we used double-observer sampling, in which two observers make observations on the same herds, to estimate detectability of elephants and determine what variables affect it. Second, we compared total counts, a complete survey of the entire study area, against sample counts, in which only a portion of the study area is sampled. Total counts are often considered a complete census, so comparing total counts against sample counts can help to determine if sample counts are underestimating elephant numbers. We estimated that observers detected only 76% ± SE of 2% of elephant herds and 87 ± 1% of individual elephants present in survey strips. Detectability increased strongly with elephant herd size. Out of the four observers used in total, one observer had a lower detection probability than the other three, and detectability was higher in the rear row of seats than the front. The habitat immediately adjacent to animals also affected detectability, with detection more likely in more open habitats. Total counts were not statistically distinguishable from sample counts. Because, however, the double-observer samples revealed that observers missed 13% of elephants, we conclude that total counts may be undercounting elephants as well. These results suggest that elephant population estimates from both sample and total counts are biased low. Because factors such as observer and habitat affected detectability of elephants, comparisons of elephant populations across time or space may be confounded. We encourage survey teams to

  4. Age determination by back length for African savanna elephants: extending age assessment techniques for aerial-based surveys.

    PubMed

    Trimble, Morgan J; van Aarde, Rudi J; Ferreira, Sam M; Nørgaard, Camilla F; Fourie, Johan; Lee, Phyllis C; Moss, Cynthia J

    2011-01-01

    Determining the age of individuals in a population can lead to a better understanding of population dynamics through age structure analysis and estimation of age-specific fecundity and survival rates. Shoulder height has been used to accurately assign age to free-ranging African savanna elephants. However, back length may provide an analog measurable in aerial-based surveys. We assessed the relationship between back length and age for known-age elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. We also compared age- and sex-specific back lengths between these populations and compared adult female back lengths across 11 widely dispersed populations in five African countries. Sex-specific Von Bertalanffy growth curves provided a good fit to the back length data of known-age individuals. Based on back length, accurate ages could be assigned relatively precisely for females up to 23 years of age and males up to 17. The female back length curve allowed more precise age assignment to older females than the curve for shoulder height does, probably because of divergence between the respective growth curves. However, this did not appear to be the case for males, but the sample of known-age males was limited to ≤27 years. Age- and sex-specific back lengths were similar in Amboseli National Park and Addo Elephant National Park. Furthermore, while adult female back lengths in the three Zambian populations were generally shorter than in other populations, back lengths in the remaining eight populations did not differ significantly, in support of claims that growth patterns of African savanna elephants are similar over wide geographic regions. Thus, the growth curves presented here should allow researchers to use aerial-based surveys to assign ages to elephants with greater precision than previously possible and, therefore, to estimate population variables.

  5. Age Determination by Back Length for African Savanna Elephants: Extending Age Assessment Techniques for Aerial-Based Surveys

    PubMed Central

    Trimble, Morgan J.; van Aarde, Rudi J.; Ferreira, Sam M.; Nørgaard, Camilla F.; Fourie, Johan; Lee, Phyllis C.; Moss, Cynthia J.

    2011-01-01

    Determining the age of individuals in a population can lead to a better understanding of population dynamics through age structure analysis and estimation of age-specific fecundity and survival rates. Shoulder height has been used to accurately assign age to free-ranging African savanna elephants. However, back length may provide an analog measurable in aerial-based surveys. We assessed the relationship between back length and age for known-age elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. We also compared age- and sex-specific back lengths between these populations and compared adult female back lengths across 11 widely dispersed populations in five African countries. Sex-specific Von Bertalanffy growth curves provided a good fit to the back length data of known-age individuals. Based on back length, accurate ages could be assigned relatively precisely for females up to 23 years of age and males up to 17. The female back length curve allowed more precise age assignment to older females than the curve for shoulder height does, probably because of divergence between the respective growth curves. However, this did not appear to be the case for males, but the sample of known-age males was limited to ≤27 years. Age- and sex-specific back lengths were similar in Amboseli National Park and Addo Elephant National Park. Furthermore, while adult female back lengths in the three Zambian populations were generally shorter than in other populations, back lengths in the remaining eight populations did not differ significantly, in support of claims that growth patterns of African savanna elephants are similar over wide geographic regions. Thus, the growth curves presented here should allow researchers to use aerial-based surveys to assign ages to elephants with greater precision than previously possible and, therefore, to estimate population variables. PMID:22028925

  6. Harvesting and chewing as constraints to forage consumption by the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Clegg, Bruce W; O'Connor, Timothy G

    2016-01-01

    As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt ), chewing (Ct ) and handling times (Ht ) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types. Some food types took longer to harvest and chew than others, which may influence intake rate and affect choice of diet. The method used to gather a trunkload of food had a significant effect on harvesting time, with simple foraging actions being comparatively rapid and more difficult tasks taking longer. Handling time was constrained by chewing for bulls, except for the processing of roots from woody plants, which was limited by harvesting. Time to gather a trunkload had a greater influence on handling time for cows compared to bulls. Harvesting and handling times were longer for bulls than cows, with the sexes adopting foraging behaviors that best suited their energy requirements. PMID:27688971

  7. Harvesting and chewing as constraints to forage consumption by the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    O’Connor, Timothy G.

    2016-01-01

    As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt), chewing (Ct) and handling times (Ht) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types. Some food types took longer to harvest and chew than others, which may influence intake rate and affect choice of diet. The method used to gather a trunkload of food had a significant effect on harvesting time, with simple foraging actions being comparatively rapid and more difficult tasks taking longer. Handling time was constrained by chewing for bulls, except for the processing of roots from woody plants, which was limited by harvesting. Time to gather a trunkload had a greater influence on handling time for cows compared to bulls. Harvesting and handling times were longer for bulls than cows, with the sexes adopting foraging behaviors that best suited their energy requirements.

  8. Harvesting and chewing as constraints to forage consumption by the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    O’Connor, Timothy G.

    2016-01-01

    As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt), chewing (Ct) and handling times (Ht) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types. Some food types took longer to harvest and chew than others, which may influence intake rate and affect choice of diet. The method used to gather a trunkload of food had a significant effect on harvesting time, with simple foraging actions being comparatively rapid and more difficult tasks taking longer. Handling time was constrained by chewing for bulls, except for the processing of roots from woody plants, which was limited by harvesting. Time to gather a trunkload had a greater influence on handling time for cows compared to bulls. Harvesting and handling times were longer for bulls than cows, with the sexes adopting foraging behaviors that best suited their energy requirements. PMID:27688971

  9. FATAL ENCEPHALOMYOCARDITIS VIRUS INFECTION IN AN AFRICAN SAVANNA ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA) IN A FRENCH ZOO.

    PubMed

    Lamglait, Benjamin; Joris, Antoine; Romey, Aurore; Bakkali-Kassimi, Labib; Lemberger, Karin

    2015-06-01

    A fatal case of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) involving an African elephant ( Loxodonta africana ) occurred in November 2013 at the Réserve Africaine de Sigean, France. An adult female was found dead without any preliminary symptoms. Gross pathologic changes consisted of petechiae and hemorrhages on mucosae and internal organs, abundant transudate in the abdominal and pericardial cavities, and myocarditis. Histopathologic examination showed extensive degeneration and necrosis of ventricular cardiomyocytes with concurrent lymphoplasmocytic and eosinophilic infiltrate. An EMCV was isolated from several organs and considered the causative agent of the myocarditis. The same strain of virus was also isolated in rodents captured on zoo premises and considered to be the reservoir of the virus. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first EMCV case in a captive African elephant in Europe.

  10. Modeling the Distribution of African Savanna Elephants in Kruger National Park: AN Application of Multi-Scale GLOBELAND30 Data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xu, W.; Hays, B.; Fayrer-Hosken, R.; Presotto, A.

    2016-06-01

    The ability of remote sensing to represent ecologically relevant features at multiple spatial scales makes it a powerful tool for studying wildlife distributions. Species of varying sizes perceive and interact with their environment at differing scales; therefore, it is important to consider the role of spatial resolution of remotely sensed data in the creation of distribution models. The release of the Globeland30 land cover classification in 2014, with its 30 m resolution, presents the opportunity to do precisely that. We created a series of Maximum Entropy distribution models for African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) using Globeland30 data analyzed at varying resolutions. We compared these with similarly re-sampled models created from the European Space Agency's Global Land Cover Map (Globcover). These data, in combination with GIS layers of topography and distance to roads, human activity, and water, as well as elephant GPS collar data, were used with MaxEnt software to produce the final distribution models. The AUC (Area Under the Curve) scores indicated that the models created from 600 m data performed better than other spatial resolutions and that the Globeland30 models generally performed better than the Globcover models. Additionally, elevation and distance to rivers seemed to be the most important variables in our models. Our results demonstrate that Globeland30 is a valid alternative to the well-established Globcover for creating wildlife distribution models. It may even be superior for applications which require higher spatial resolution and less nuanced classifications.

  11. Tusklessness and tusk fractures in free-ranging African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Steenkamp, G; Ferreira, S M; Bester, M N

    2007-06-01

    The incidence of tusklessness varies between free-ranging African elephant populations. Sex-linked genetic drift predicts 2 outcomes--the condition becomes fixed and sex-specific incidences diverge when populations are small and/or heavily poached. By contrast, for large and intact populations, tusklessness diminishes and there is no variation between sexes. We tested these predictions by comparing sex-specific incidences between 15 populations: a small one with a skewed founder effect towards tusklessness; 5 that had experienced intense levels of poaching; 2 that had been subjected to non-selective culling and 7 that are relatively pristine. Patterns of rainfall were studied of tusk fractures amongst these populations to correct for any effect that acquired tusklessness may have on our predictions. The incidence of tusk fractures was related to annual rainfall, but the mechanism that leads to an increase of the condition in drier areas was not clear Incidences of tusk fractures in free-ranging populations implied that the frequency of acquired bilateral tusklessness is low and should not affect our results. All males had tusks. Tusklessness in females was high in the small skewed founder population and some of those where there was a history of poaching. The incidence is expected to decline if the residual population is large.

  12. Tusklessness and tusk fractures in free-ranging African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Steenkamp, G; Ferreira, S M; Bester, M N

    2007-06-01

    The incidence of tusklessness varies between free-ranging African elephant populations. Sex-linked genetic drift predicts 2 outcomes--the condition becomes fixed and sex-specific incidences diverge when populations are small and/or heavily poached. By contrast, for large and intact populations, tusklessness diminishes and there is no variation between sexes. We tested these predictions by comparing sex-specific incidences between 15 populations: a small one with a skewed founder effect towards tusklessness; 5 that had experienced intense levels of poaching; 2 that had been subjected to non-selective culling and 7 that are relatively pristine. Patterns of rainfall were studied of tusk fractures amongst these populations to correct for any effect that acquired tusklessness may have on our predictions. The incidence of tusk fractures was related to annual rainfall, but the mechanism that leads to an increase of the condition in drier areas was not clear Incidences of tusk fractures in free-ranging populations implied that the frequency of acquired bilateral tusklessness is low and should not affect our results. All males had tusks. Tusklessness in females was high in the small skewed founder population and some of those where there was a history of poaching. The incidence is expected to decline if the residual population is large. PMID:17941599

  13. Genomic DNA sequences from mastodon and woolly mammoth reveal deep speciation of forest and savanna elephants.

    PubMed

    Rohland, Nadin; Reich, David; Mallick, Swapan; Meyer, Matthias; Green, Richard E; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L; Hofreiter, Michael

    2010-12-21

    To elucidate the history of living and extinct elephantids, we generated 39,763 bp of aligned nuclear DNA sequence across 375 loci for African savanna elephant, African forest elephant, Asian elephant, the extinct American mastodon, and the woolly mammoth. Our data establish that the Asian elephant is the closest living relative of the extinct mammoth in the nuclear genome, extending previous findings from mitochondrial DNA analyses. We also find that savanna and forest elephants, which some have argued are the same species, are as or more divergent in the nuclear genome as mammoths and Asian elephants, which are considered to be distinct genera, thus resolving a long-standing debate about the appropriate taxonomic classification of the African elephants. Finally, we document a much larger effective population size in forest elephants compared with the other elephantid taxa, likely reflecting species differences in ancient geographic structure and range and differences in life history traits such as variance in male reproductive success.

  14. Genomic DNA sequences from mastodon and woolly mammoth reveal deep speciation of forest and savanna elephants.

    PubMed

    Rohland, Nadin; Reich, David; Mallick, Swapan; Meyer, Matthias; Green, Richard E; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L; Hofreiter, Michael

    2010-01-01

    To elucidate the history of living and extinct elephantids, we generated 39,763 bp of aligned nuclear DNA sequence across 375 loci for African savanna elephant, African forest elephant, Asian elephant, the extinct American mastodon, and the woolly mammoth. Our data establish that the Asian elephant is the closest living relative of the extinct mammoth in the nuclear genome, extending previous findings from mitochondrial DNA analyses. We also find that savanna and forest elephants, which some have argued are the same species, are as or more divergent in the nuclear genome as mammoths and Asian elephants, which are considered to be distinct genera, thus resolving a long-standing debate about the appropriate taxonomic classification of the African elephants. Finally, we document a much larger effective population size in forest elephants compared with the other elephantid taxa, likely reflecting species differences in ancient geographic structure and range and differences in life history traits such as variance in male reproductive success. PMID:21203580

  15. Triangulating the provenance of African elephants using mitochondrial DNA

    PubMed Central

    Ishida, Yasuko; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Hondo, Tomoko; Roca, Alfred L

    2013-01-01

    African elephant mitochondrial (mt) DNA follows a distinctive evolutionary trajectory. As females do not migrate between elephant herds, mtDNA exhibits low geographic dispersal. We therefore examined the effectiveness of mtDNA for assigning the provenance of African elephants (or their ivory). For 653 savanna and forest elephants from 22 localities in 13 countries, 4258 bp of mtDNA was sequenced. We detected eight mtDNA subclades, of which seven had regionally restricted distributions. Among 108 unique haplotypes identified, 72% were found at only one locality and 84% were country specific, while 44% of individuals carried a haplotype detected only at their sampling locality. We combined 316 bp of our control region sequences with those generated by previous trans-national surveys of African elephants. Among 101 unique control region haplotypes detected in African elephants across 81 locations in 22 countries, 62% were present in only a single country. Applying our mtDNA results to a previous microsatellite-based assignment study would improve estimates of the provenance of elephants in 115 of 122 mis-assigned cases. Nuclear partitioning followed species boundaries and not mtDNA subclade boundaries. For taxa such as elephants in which nuclear and mtDNA markers differ in phylogeography, combining the two markers can triangulate the origins of confiscated wildlife products. PMID:23798975

  16. Reconciling apparent conflicts between mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenies in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Ishida, Yasuko; Oleksyk, Taras K; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; David, Victor A; Zhao, Kai; Stephens, Robert M; Kolokotronis, Sergios-Orestis; Roca, Alfred L

    2011-01-01

    Conservation strategies for African elephants would be advanced by resolution of conflicting claims that they comprise one, two, three or four taxonomic groups, and by development of genetic markers that establish more incisively the provenance of confiscated ivory. We addressed these related issues by genotyping 555 elephants from across Africa with microsatellite markers, developing a method to identify those loci most effective at geographic assignment of elephants (or their ivory), and conducting novel analyses of continent-wide datasets of mitochondrial DNA. Results showed that nuclear genetic diversity was partitioned into two clusters, corresponding to African forest elephants (99.5% Cluster-1) and African savanna elephants (99.4% Cluster-2). Hybrid individuals were rare. In a comparison of basal forest "F" and savanna "S" mtDNA clade distributions to nuclear DNA partitions, forest elephant nuclear genotypes occurred only in populations in which S clade mtDNA was absent, suggesting that nuclear partitioning corresponds to the presence or absence of S clade mtDNA. We reanalyzed African elephant mtDNA sequences from 81 locales spanning the continent and discovered that S clade mtDNA was completely absent among elephants at all 30 sampled tropical forest locales. The distribution of savanna nuclear DNA and S clade mtDNA corresponded closely to range boundaries traditionally ascribed to the savanna elephant species based on habitat and morphology. Further, a reanalysis of nuclear genetic assignment results suggested that West African elephants do not comprise a distinct third species. Finally, we show that some DNA markers will be more useful than others for determining the geographic origins of illegal ivory. These findings resolve the apparent incongruence between mtDNA and nuclear genetic patterns that has confounded the taxonomy of African elephants, affirm the limitations of using mtDNA patterns to infer elephant systematics or population structure, and

  17. African bees to control African elephants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vollrath, Fritz; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain

    2002-11-01

    Numbers of elephants have declined in Africa and Asia over the past 30 years while numbers of humans have increased, both substantially. Friction between these two keystone species is reaching levels which are worryingly high from an ecological as well as a political viewpoint. Ways and means must be found to keep the two apart, at least in areas sensitive to each species' survival. The aggressive African bee might be one such method. Here we demonstrate that African bees deter elephants from damaging the vegetation and trees which house their hives. We argue that bees can be employed profitably to protect not only selected trees, but also selected areas, from elephant damage.

  18. New evidence for hybrid zones of forest and savanna elephants in Central and West Africa.

    PubMed

    Mondol, Samrat; Moltke, Ida; Hart, John; Keigwin, Michael; Brown, Lisa; Stephens, Matthew; Wasser, Samuel K

    2015-12-01

    The African elephant consists of forest and savanna subspecies. Both subspecies are highly endangered due to severe poaching and habitat loss, and knowledge of their population structure is vital to their conservation. Previous studies have demonstrated marked genetic and morphological differences between forest and savanna elephants, and despite extensive sampling, genetic evidence of hybridization between them has been restricted largely to a few hybrids in the Garamba region of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, we present new genetic data on hybridization from previously unsampled areas of Africa. Novel statistical methods applied to these data identify 46 hybrid samples--many more than have been previously identified--only two of which are from the Garamba region. The remaining 44 are from three other geographically distinct locations: a major hybrid zone along the border of the DRC and Uganda, a second potential hybrid zone in Central African Republic and a smaller fraction of hybrids in the Pendjari-Arli complex of West Africa. Most of the hybrids show evidence of interbreeding over more than one generation, demonstrating that hybrids are fertile. Mitochondrial and Y chromosome data demonstrate that the hybridization is bidirectional, involving males and females from both subspecies. We hypothesize that the hybrid zones may have been facilitated by poaching and habitat modification. The localized geography and rarity of hybrid zones, their possible facilitation from human pressures, and the high divergence and genetic distinctness of forest and savanna elephants throughout their ranges, are consistent with calls for separate species classification.

  19. New evidence for hybrid zones of forest and savanna elephants in Central and West Africa.

    PubMed

    Mondol, Samrat; Moltke, Ida; Hart, John; Keigwin, Michael; Brown, Lisa; Stephens, Matthew; Wasser, Samuel K

    2015-12-01

    The African elephant consists of forest and savanna subspecies. Both subspecies are highly endangered due to severe poaching and habitat loss, and knowledge of their population structure is vital to their conservation. Previous studies have demonstrated marked genetic and morphological differences between forest and savanna elephants, and despite extensive sampling, genetic evidence of hybridization between them has been restricted largely to a few hybrids in the Garamba region of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, we present new genetic data on hybridization from previously unsampled areas of Africa. Novel statistical methods applied to these data identify 46 hybrid samples--many more than have been previously identified--only two of which are from the Garamba region. The remaining 44 are from three other geographically distinct locations: a major hybrid zone along the border of the DRC and Uganda, a second potential hybrid zone in Central African Republic and a smaller fraction of hybrids in the Pendjari-Arli complex of West Africa. Most of the hybrids show evidence of interbreeding over more than one generation, demonstrating that hybrids are fertile. Mitochondrial and Y chromosome data demonstrate that the hybridization is bidirectional, involving males and females from both subspecies. We hypothesize that the hybrid zones may have been facilitated by poaching and habitat modification. The localized geography and rarity of hybrid zones, their possible facilitation from human pressures, and the high divergence and genetic distinctness of forest and savanna elephants throughout their ranges, are consistent with calls for separate species classification. PMID:26577954

  20. Will Elephants Soon Disappear from West African Savannahs?

    PubMed Central

    Bouché, Philippe; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Wittemyer, George; Nianogo, Aimé J.; Doucet, Jean-Louis; Lejeune, Philippe; Vermeulen, Cédric

    2011-01-01

    Precipitous declines in Africa's native fauna and flora are recognized, but few comprehensive records of these changes have been compiled. Here, we present population trends for African elephants in the 6,213,000 km2 Sudano-Sahelian range of West and Central Africa assessed through the analysis of aerial and ground surveys conducted over the past 4 decades. These surveys are focused on the best protected areas in the region, and therefore represent the best case scenario for the northern savanna elephants. A minimum of 7,745 elephants currently inhabit the entire region, representing a minimum decline of 50% from estimates four decades ago for these protected areas. Most of the historic range is now devoid of elephants and, therefore, was not surveyed. Of the 23 surveyed elephant populations, half are estimated to number less than 200 individuals. Historically, most populations numbering less than 200 individuals in the region were extirpated within a few decades. Declines differed by region, with Central African populations experiencing much higher declines (−76%) than those in West Africa (−33%). As a result, elephants in West Africa now account for 86% of the total surveyed. Range wide, two refuge zones retain elephants, one in West and the other in Central Africa. These zones are separated by a large distance (∼900 km) of high density human land use, suggesting connectivity between the regions is permanently cut. Within each zone, however, sporadic contacts between populations remain. Retaining such connectivity should be a high priority for conservation of elephants in this region. Specific corridors designed to reduce the isolation of the surveyed populations are proposed. The strong commitment of governments, effective law enforcement to control the illegal ivory trade and the involvement of local communities and private partners are all critical to securing the future of elephants inhabiting Africa's northern savannas. PMID:21731620

  1. Will elephants soon disappear from West African savannahs?

    PubMed

    Bouché, Philippe; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Wittemyer, George; Nianogo, Aimé J; Doucet, Jean-Louis; Lejeune, Philippe; Vermeulen, Cédric

    2011-01-01

    Precipitous declines in Africa's native fauna and flora are recognized, but few comprehensive records of these changes have been compiled. Here, we present population trends for African elephants in the 6,213,000 km² Sudano-Sahelian range of West and Central Africa assessed through the analysis of aerial and ground surveys conducted over the past 4 decades. These surveys are focused on the best protected areas in the region, and therefore represent the best case scenario for the northern savanna elephants. A minimum of 7,745 elephants currently inhabit the entire region, representing a minimum decline of 50% from estimates four decades ago for these protected areas. Most of the historic range is now devoid of elephants and, therefore, was not surveyed. Of the 23 surveyed elephant populations, half are estimated to number less than 200 individuals. Historically, most populations numbering less than 200 individuals in the region were extirpated within a few decades. Declines differed by region, with Central African populations experiencing much higher declines (-76%) than those in West Africa (-33%). As a result, elephants in West Africa now account for 86% of the total surveyed. Range wide, two refuge zones retain elephants, one in West and the other in Central Africa. These zones are separated by a large distance (∼900 km) of high density human land use, suggesting connectivity between the regions is permanently cut. Within each zone, however, sporadic contacts between populations remain. Retaining such connectivity should be a high priority for conservation of elephants in this region. Specific corridors designed to reduce the isolation of the surveyed populations are proposed. The strong commitment of governments, effective law enforcement to control the illegal ivory trade and the involvement of local communities and private partners are all critical to securing the future of elephants inhabiting Africa's northern savannas.

  2. Seasonal Distribution of African Savanna Fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cahoon, Donald R.; Stocks, Brian J.; Levine, Joel S.; Cofer, Wesley R., III; O'Neill, Katherine P.

    1992-01-01

    Savannas consist of a continuous layer of grass interspersed with scattered trees or shrubs, and cover approx. 10 million square kilometers of tropical Africa. African savanna fires, almost all resulting from human activities, may produce as much as a third of the total global emissions from biomass burning. Little is known, however, about the frequency and location of these fires, and the area burned each year. Emissions from African savanna burning are known to be transported over the mid-Atlantic, south Pacific and Indian oceans; but to study fully the transport of regional savanna burning and the seasonality of the atmospheric circulation must be considered simultaneously. Here we describe the temporal and spatial distribution of savanna fires over the entire African continent, as determined from night-time satellite imagery. We find that, contrary to expectations, most fires are left to burn uncontrolled, so that there is no strong diurnal cycle in the fire frequency. The knowledge gained from this study regarding the distribution and variability of fires will aid monitoring of the climatically important trace gases emitted from burning biomass.

  3. Freezing African Elephant Semen as a New Population Management Tool

    PubMed Central

    Hermes, Robert; Saragusty, Joseph; Göritz, Frank; Bartels, Paul; Potier, Romain; Baker, Barbara; Streich, W. Jürgen; Hildebrandt, Thomas B.

    2013-01-01

    Background The captive elephant population is not self-sustaining and with a limited number of breeding bulls, its genetic diversity is in decline. One way to overcome this is to import young and healthy animals from the wild. We introduce here a more sustainable alternative method - importation of semen from wild bulls without removing them from their natural habitat. Due to the logistics involved, the only practical option would be to transport cryopreserved sperm. Despite some early reports on African elephant semen cryopreservation, the utility of this new population management tool has not been evaluated. Methodology/Principal Findings Semen was collected by electroejaculation from 14 wild African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) bulls and cryopreserved using the directional freezing technique. Sperm treatments evaluated included the need for centrifugation, the use of hen or quail yolk, the concentration of glycerol (3%, 5% or 7%) in the extender, and maintenance of motility over time after thawing. Our results suggest that dilution in an extender containing hen yolk and 7% glycerol after centrifugation best preserved post-thaw sperm motility when compared to all other treatments (P≤0.012 for all). Using this approach we were able to achieve after thawing (mean ± SD) 54.6±3.9% motility, 85.3±2.4% acrosome integrity, and 86.8±4.6% normal morphology with no decrease in motility over 1 h incubation at 37°C. Sperm cryopreserved during this study has already lead to a pregnancy of a captive female elephant following artificial insemination. Conclusions/Significance With working techniques for artificial insemination and sperm cryopreservation of both African and Asian elephants in hand, population managers can now enrich captive or isolated wild elephant populations without removing valuable individuals from their natural habitat. PMID:23483917

  4. Determinants of woody cover in African savannas

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sankaran, M.; Hanan, N.P.; Scholes, R.J.; Ratnam, J.; Augustine, D.J.; Cade, B.S.; Gignoux, J.; Higgins, S.I.; Le, Roux X.; Ludwig, F.; Ardo, J.; Banyikwa, F.; Bronn, A.; Bucini, G.; Caylor, K.K.; Coughenour, M.B.; Diouf, A.; Ekaya, W.; Feral, C.J.; February, E.C.; Frost, P.G.H.; Hiernaux, P.; Hrabar, H.; Metzger, K.L.; Prins, H.H.T.; Ringrose, S.; Sea, W.; Tews, J.; Worden, J.; Zambatis, N.

    2005-01-01

    Savannas are globally important ecosystems of great significance to human economies. In these biomes, which are characterized by the co-dominance of trees and grasses, woody cover is a chief determinant of ecosystem properties 1-3. The availability of resources (water, nutrients) and disturbance regimes (fire, herbivory) are thought to be important in regulating woody cover1,2,4,5, but perceptions differ on which of these are the primary drivers of savanna structure. Here we show, using data from 854 sites across Africa, that maximum woody cover in savannas receiving a mean annual precipitation (MAP) of less than ???650 mm is constrained by, and increases linearly with, MAP. These arid and semi-arid savannas may be considered 'stable' systems in which water constrains woody cover and permits grasses to coexist, while fire, herbivory and soil properties interact to reduce woody cover below the MAP-controlled upper bound. Above a MAP of ???650 mm, savannas are 'unstable' systems in which MAP is sufficient for woody canopy closure, and disturbances (fire, herbivory) are required for the coexistence of trees and grass. These results provide insights into the nature of African savannas and suggest that future changes in precipitation 6 may considerably affect their distribution and dynamics. ?? 2005 Nature Publishing Group.

  5. NO x emissions from African savanna fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lacaux, J. P.; Delmas, R.; Jambert, C.; Kuhlbusch, T. A. J.

    1996-10-01

    Fire of Savanna/Dynamique et Chimie Atmosphèrique en Forêt Equatoriale (FOS/DECAFE-91) and Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative (SAFARI-92) were two multidisciplinary experiments organized in Africa to determine the gas and aerosol emissions due to prescribed savanna fires. These two experiments took place in two types of savannas which have very different ecological properties: Lamto, Ivory Coast (FOS/DECAFE-91), in the Guinean area, is wet (80% moisture content) and dense (9 to 10 t ha-1) and has little litter (2 to 5% of total biomass); Kruger Park, in South Africa (SAFARI-92), on the contrary, is dry (10 to 20% moisture) and has a low biomass (3 to 6 t ha-1) and 40% of its total biomass in the form of litter. The experimental strategy used to determine the emission ratios ΔCO/ΔCO2 and ΔNOx/ΔCO2 was to measure at ground level, in the same volume of the plume above the fire, the CO, CO2 and NOx concentrations. The mean carbon content of the two savannas was similar (about 43%), and the ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratio, the indicator of the burning process, was comparable in back and head fires with mean ratios between 4.5 and 6.1%. These ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratios were characteristic of intense flaming combustion with the formation of mainly fully oxidized compounds for both savannas. The ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratio for the head fires can be divided into two distinct phases: a flaming period and a smoke period which immediately follows. Nitrogen concentration of the two savannas varied from as low as 0.3% in Lamto to 0.80% of dry mass in the Kruger Park in the Faai plot. In this study we could clearly identify a linear dependency between the nitrogen concentration of the dry and wet savannas of Africa and the NOx/CO2 emission ratio, ΔNOx/ΔCO2 = 0.66 N% - 0.01, with a correlation coefficient of 0.93, statistically significant at a confidence level better than 99%. This result enables the quantification of the emissions of NOx from African savanna burning by measuring the

  6. Seasonal distribution of African savanna fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cahoon, Donald R., Jr.; Stocks, Brian J.; Levine, Joel S.; Cofer, Wesley R., III; O'Neill, Katherine P.

    1992-01-01

    The temporal and spatial distribution of savanna fires over the entire African continent, as determined from nighttime satellite imagery, is described. It is found that, contrary to expectations, most fires are left to burn uncontrolled, so that there is no strong diurnal cycle in the fire frequency. The knowledge gained from this study regarding the distribution and variability of fires is helpful in the monitoring of climatically important trace gases emitted from burning biomass.

  7. Landscape-scale effects of herbivores on treefall in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Asner, Gregory P; Levick, Shaun R

    2012-11-01

    Herbivores cause treefalls in African savannas, but rates are unknown at large scales required to forecast changes in biodiversity and ecosystem processes. We combined landscape-scale herbivore exclosures with repeat airborne Light Detection and Ranging of 58 429 trees in Kruger National Park, South Africa, to assess sources of savanna treefall across nested gradients of climate, topography, and soil fertility. Elephants were revealed as the primary agent of treefall across widely varying savanna conditions, and a large-scale 'elephant trap' predominantly removes maturing savanna trees in the 5-9 m height range. Treefall rates averaged 6 times higher in areas accessible to elephants, but proportionally more treefall occurred on high-nutrient basalts and in lowland catena areas. These patterns were superimposed on a climate-mediated regime of increasing treefall with precipitation in the absence of herbivores. These landscape-scale patterns reveal environmental controls underpinning herbivore-mediated tree turnover, highlighting the need for context-dependent science and management.

  8. Vocal communication in African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Soltis, Joseph

    2010-01-01

    Research on vocal communication in African elephants has increased in recent years, both in the wild and in captivity, providing an opportunity to present a comprehensive review of research related to their vocal behavior. Current data indicate that the vocal repertoire consists of perhaps nine acoustically distinct call types, "rumbles" being the most common and acoustically variable. Large vocal production anatomy is responsible for the low-frequency nature of rumbles, with fundamental frequencies in the infrasonic range. Additionally, resonant frequencies of rumbles implicate the trunk in addition to the oral cavity in shaping the acoustic structure of rumbles. Long-distance communication is thought possible because low-frequency sounds propagate more faithfully than high-frequency sounds, and elephants respond to rumbles at distances of up to 2.5 km. Elephant ear anatomy appears designed for detecting low frequencies, and experiments demonstrate that elephants can detect infrasonic tones and discriminate small frequency differences. Two vocal communication functions in the African elephant now have reasonable empirical support. First, closely bonded but spatially separated females engage in rumble exchanges, or "contact calls," that function to coordinate movement or reunite animals. Second, both males and females produce "mate attraction" rumbles that may advertise reproductive states to the opposite sex. Additionally, there is evidence that the structural variation in rumbles reflects the individual identity, reproductive state, and emotional state of callers. Growth in knowledge about the communication system of the African elephant has occurred from a rich combination of research on wild elephants in national parks and captive elephants in zoological parks.

  9. Coping with heat: behavioural and physiological responses of savanna elephants in their natural habitat

    PubMed Central

    Mole, Michael A.; Rodrigues DÁraujo, Shaun; van Aarde, Rudi J.; Mitchell, Duncan; Fuller, Andrea

    2016-01-01

    Most of southern Africa's elephants inhabit environments where environmental temperatures exceed body temperature, but we do not know how elephants respond to such environments. We evaluated the relationships between apparent thermoregulatory behaviour and environmental, skin and core temperatures for tame savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) that were free-ranging in the hot parts of the day, in their natural environment. Environmental temperature dictated elephant behaviour within a day, with potential consequences for fine-scale habitat selection, space use and foraging. At black globe temperatures of ~30°C, elephants adjusted their behaviour to reduce environmental heat load and increase heat dissipation (e.g. shade use, wetting behaviour). Resting, walking and feeding were also influenced by environmental temperature. By relying on behavioural and autonomic adjustments, the elephants maintained homeothermy, even at environmental temperatures exceeding 40°C. Elephants clearly have the capacity to deal with extreme heat, at least in environments with adequate resources of forage, water and shade. Future conservation actions should provide for the thermoregulatory, resource and spatial needs of elephants. PMID:27757237

  10. Climate and the landscape of fear in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna

    2015-01-01

    Herbivores frequently have to make trade-offs between two basic needs: the need to acquire forage and the need to avoid predation. One manifestation of this trade-off is the 'landscape of fear' phenomenon - wherein herbivores avoid areas of high perceived predation risk even if forage is abundant or of high quality in those areas. Although this phenomenon is well established among invertebrates, its applicability to terrestrial large herbivores remains debated, in part because experimental evidence is scarce. This study was designed to (i) experimentally test the effects of tree density - a key landscape feature associated with predation risk for African ungulates - on herbivore habitat use and (ii) establish whether habitat use patterns could be explained by trade-offs between foraging opportunities and predation risk avoidance. In a Kenyan savanna system, replicate plots dominated by the tree Acacia drepanolobium were cleared, thinned or left intact. Ungulate responses were measured over four years, which included years of moderate rainfall as well as a severe drought. Under average rainfall conditions, most herbivores (primarily plains zebra, Grant's gazelle and hartebeest) favoured sites with fewer trees and higher visibility - regardless of grass production - while elephants (too large to be vulnerable to predation) favoured sites with many trees. During the drought, however, herbivores favoured sites that had high grass biomass, but not high visibility. Thus, during the drought, herbivores sought areas where food was more abundant, despite probable higher risk of predation. These results illustrate that the 'landscape of fear', and the associated interactions between top-down and bottom-up effects, is not static, but rather shifts markedly under different conditions. Climate thus has the potential to alter the strength and spatial dynamics of behaviourally mediated cascades in large herbivore systems.

  11. Climate and the landscape of fear in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna

    2015-01-01

    Herbivores frequently have to make trade-offs between two basic needs: the need to acquire forage and the need to avoid predation. One manifestation of this trade-off is the 'landscape of fear' phenomenon - wherein herbivores avoid areas of high perceived predation risk even if forage is abundant or of high quality in those areas. Although this phenomenon is well established among invertebrates, its applicability to terrestrial large herbivores remains debated, in part because experimental evidence is scarce. This study was designed to (i) experimentally test the effects of tree density - a key landscape feature associated with predation risk for African ungulates - on herbivore habitat use and (ii) establish whether habitat use patterns could be explained by trade-offs between foraging opportunities and predation risk avoidance. In a Kenyan savanna system, replicate plots dominated by the tree Acacia drepanolobium were cleared, thinned or left intact. Ungulate responses were measured over four years, which included years of moderate rainfall as well as a severe drought. Under average rainfall conditions, most herbivores (primarily plains zebra, Grant's gazelle and hartebeest) favoured sites with fewer trees and higher visibility - regardless of grass production - while elephants (too large to be vulnerable to predation) favoured sites with many trees. During the drought, however, herbivores favoured sites that had high grass biomass, but not high visibility. Thus, during the drought, herbivores sought areas where food was more abundant, despite probable higher risk of predation. These results illustrate that the 'landscape of fear', and the associated interactions between top-down and bottom-up effects, is not static, but rather shifts markedly under different conditions. Climate thus has the potential to alter the strength and spatial dynamics of behaviourally mediated cascades in large herbivore systems. PMID:24942250

  12. Plasma preparation and storage for African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Knauf, Sascha; Blad-Stahl, Julia; Lawrenz, Arne; Schuerer, Ulrich; Wehrend, Axel

    2009-03-01

    The use of plasma as a life-saving tool for neonatal African elephants (Loxodonta africana) that failed passive transfer of immunoglobulins is proposed. The methodology of blood sampling, plasma extraction, and plasma storage is described. Values for cellular component sedimentation and biochemical parameters of extracted plasma that was collected from 2 female elephants is presented. The proposal for a central plasma bank for elephants in European zoos is suggested. PMID:19368242

  13. Eradication of elephant ear mites (Loxoanoetus bassoni) in two African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Wyatt, Jeff; DiVincenti, Louis

    2012-03-01

    Elephant ear mites, not previously described in North America, were eradicated in two African elephants (Loxodonta africana) after six otic instillations of ivermectin at 2-wk intervals. The microscopic examination of a clear, mucoid discharge collected from the external ear canals of two wild-born African elephants housed in a New York State zoo for 25 yr revealed live mites (Loxoaneotus bassoni). The cytologic examination demonstrated no evidence of inflammation or infection. Both elephants were asymptomatic with normal hemograms and serum chemistry panels. A diagnosis of otoacariasis was made. Each elephant was treated six times with 5 ml of 1% ivermectin syrup instilled in each ear canal once every 2 wk. Microscopic examinations of clear mucus collected from each elephant's ear canals 9 days after the first instillation of ivermectin were negative for any life stages of ear mites. Microscopic examinations of mucus collected from both elephants' ear canals at 6, 11, and 16 wk, as well as annually post-treatment for 7 yr, confirmed eradication of the ear mites. The L. bassoni ear mite was first identified in the external ear canals of wild, asymptomatic, lesion-free, African elephants culled in Kruger National Park in South Africa. However, a new species in the same genus of mites (Loxoanoetus lenae) was identified at the necropsy of an 86-yr-old Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) living in a circus in Australia. The autopsy revealed a marked, ballooning distension of bone around the left external acoustic meatus, suggestive of mite-induced otitis externa, as seen in cattle infested with ear mites (Raillieta auris). Elephant health care providers should identify the prevalence of, and consider treatment of, elephants in their care infested with ear mites, given the possible risk for adverse health effects.

  14. Evidence of Positive Selection in Mitochondrial Complexes I and V of the African Elephant

    PubMed Central

    Finch, Tabitha M.; Zhao, Nan; Korkin, Dmitry; Frederick, Katy H.; Eggert, Lori S.

    2014-01-01

    As species evolve, they become adapted to their local environments. Detecting the genetic signature of selection and connecting that to the phenotype of the organism, however, is challenging. Here we report using an integrative approach that combines DNA sequencing with structural biology analyses to assess the effect of selection on residues in the mitochondrial DNA of the two species of African elephants. We detected evidence of positive selection acting on residues in complexes I and V, and we used homology protein structure modeling to assess the effect of the biochemical properties of the selected residues on the enzyme structure. Given the role these enzymes play in oxidative phosphorylation, we propose that the selected residues may contribute to the metabolic adaptation of forest and savanna elephants to their unique habitats. PMID:24695069

  15. Evidence of positive selection in mitochondrial complexes I and V of the African elephant.

    PubMed

    Finch, Tabitha M; Zhao, Nan; Korkin, Dmitry; Frederick, Katy H; Eggert, Lori S

    2014-01-01

    As species evolve, they become adapted to their local environments. Detecting the genetic signature of selection and connecting that to the phenotype of the organism, however, is challenging. Here we report using an integrative approach that combines DNA sequencing with structural biology analyses to assess the effect of selection on residues in the mitochondrial DNA of the two species of African elephants. We detected evidence of positive selection acting on residues in complexes I and V, and we used homology protein structure modeling to assess the effect of the biochemical properties of the selected residues on the enzyme structure. Given the role these enzymes play in oxidative phosphorylation, we propose that the selected residues may contribute to the metabolic adaptation of forest and savanna elephants to their unique habitats.

  16. Defensive plant-ants stabilize megaherbivore-driven landscape change in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M

    2010-10-12

    Tree cover in savanna ecosystems is usually regarded as unstable, varying with rainfall, fire, and herbivory. In sub-Saharan Africa, elephants (Loxodonta africana) suppress tree cover, thereby maintaining landscape heterogeneity by promoting tree-grass coexistence. In the absence of elephants, tree encroachment may convert savannas into closed-canopy woodlands; when elephants increase in abundance, intensified browsing pressure can transform savannas into open grasslands. We show that symbiotic ants stabilize tree cover across landscapes in Kenya by protecting a dominant tree from elephants. In feeding trials, elephants avoided plants with ants and did not distinguish between a myrmecophyte (the whistling-thorn tree [Acacia drepanolobium]) from which ants had been removed and a highly palatable, nonmyrmecophytic congener. In field experiments, elephants inflicted severe damage on whistling-thorn trees from which ants had been removed. Across two properties on which elephants increased between 2003 and 2008, cover of whistling-thorn did not change significantly inside versus outside large-scale elephant exclusion fences; over the same period of time, cover of nonmyrmecophytes differed profoundly inside versus outside exclusion fences. These results highlight the powerful role that symbioses and plant defense play in driving tree growth and survival in savannas, ecosystems of global economic and ecological importance.

  17. North African savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide

    SciTech Connect

    Iacobellis, S.F.; Frouni, Razafimpaniolo, H.

    1994-04-20

    The effect of north African savanna fires on atmospheric CO{sub 2} is investigated using a tracer transport model. The model uses winds from operational numerical weather prediction analyses and provides CO{sub 2} concentrations as a function of space and time. After a spin-up period of several years, biomass-burning sources are added, and model experiments are run for an additional year, utilizing various estimates of CO{sub 2} sources. The various model experiments show that biomass burning in the north African savannas significantly affects CO{sub 2} concentrations in South America. The effect is more pronounced during the period from January through March, when biomass burning in South America is almost nonexistent. During this period, atmospheric CO{sub 2} concentrations in parts of South America typically may increase by 0.5 to 0.75 ppm at 970 mbar, the average pressure of the lowest model layer. These figures are above the probable uncertainty level, as model runs with biomass-burning sources estimated from independent studies using distinct data sets and techniques indicate. From May through September, when severe biomass burning occurs in South America, the effect of north African savanna fires over South America has become generally small at 970 mbar, but north of the equator it may be of the same magnitude or larger than the effect of South American fires. The CO{sub 2} concentration increase in the extreme northern and southern portions of South America, however, is mostly due to southern African fires, whose effect may be 2-3 times larger than the effect of South American fires at 970 mbar. Even in the central part of the continent, where local biomass-burning emissions are maximum, southern African fires contribute to at least 15% of the CO{sub 2} concentration increase at 970 mbar. 20 refs., 15 figs., 1 tab.

  18. Geographic variation of stable isotopes in African elephant ivory

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ziegler, S.; Merker, S.; Jacob, D.

    2012-04-01

    In 1989, the international community listed the African elephant in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) thus prohibiting commercial ivory trade. Recent surveillance data show that the illegal trade in ivory has been growing worldwide. Long-term preservation of many of the African elephant populations can be supported with a control mechanism that helps with the implementation of remedial conservation action. Therefore, setting up a reference database that predicts the origin of ivory specimens can assist in determining smuggling routes and the provenance of illegal ivory. Our research builds on earlier work to seek an appropriate method for determining the area of origin for individual tusks. Several researchers have shown that the provenance of elephant ivory can be traced by its isotopic composition, but this is the first attempt to produce an integrated isotopic reference database of elephant ivory provenance. We applied a combination of various routine geochemical analyses to measure the stable isotope ratios of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur. Up to now, we analysed 606 ivory samples of known geographical origin from African range states, museums and private collections, comprising 22 African elephant range states. The isotopic measurements were superimposed with data layers from vegetation, geology and climate. A regression function for the isotope composition of the water isotopes in precipitation and collagen in ivory was developed to overcome the problem of imprecise origin of some of the sampled material. Multivariate statistics, such as nearest neighborhood and discriminate analysis were applied to eventually allow a statistical determination of the provenance for ivory of unknown origin. Our results suggest that the combination of isotopic parameters have the potential to provide predictable and complementary markers for estimating the origin of seized elephant ivory.

  19. Interpretation of human pointing by African elephants: generalisation and rationality.

    PubMed

    Smet, Anna F; Byrne, Richard W

    2014-11-01

    Factors influencing the abilities of different animals to use cooperative social cues from humans are still unclear, in spite of long-standing interest in the topic. One of the few species that have been found successful at using human pointing is the African elephant (Loxodonta africana); despite few opportunities for learning about pointing, elephants follow a pointing gesture in an object-choice task, even when the pointing signal and experimenter's body position are in conflict, and when the gesture itself is visually subtle. Here, we show that the success of captive African elephants at using human pointing is not restricted to situations where the pointing signal is sustained until the time of choice: elephants followed human pointing even when the pointing gesture was withdrawn before they had responded to it. Furthermore, elephants rapidly generalised their response to a type of social cue they were unlikely to have seen before: pointing with the foot. However, unlike young children, they showed no sign of evaluating the 'rationality' of this novel pointing gesture according to its visual context: that is, whether the experimenter's hands were occupied or not.

  20. Physiological stress and refuge behavior by African elephants.

    PubMed

    Jachowski, David S; Slotow, Rob; Millspaugh, Joshua J

    2012-01-01

    Physiological stress responses allow individuals to adapt to changes in their status or surroundings, but chronic exposure to stressors could have detrimental effects. Increased stress hormone secretion leads to short-term escape behavior; however, no studies have assessed the potential of longer-term escape behavior, when individuals are in a chronic physiological state. Such refuge behavior is likely to take two forms, where an individual or population restricts its space use patterns spatially (spatial refuge hypothesis), or alters its use of space temporally (temporal refuge hypothesis). We tested the spatial and temporal refuge hypotheses by comparing space use patterns among three African elephant populations maintaining different fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentrations. In support of the spatial refuge hypothesis, the elephant population that maintained elevated FGM concentrations (iSimangaliso) used 20% less of its reserve than did an elephant population with lower FGM concentrations (Pilanesberg) in a reserve of similar size, and 43% less than elephants in the smaller Phinda reserve. We found mixed support for the temporal refuge hypothesis; home range sizes in the iSimangaliso population did not differ by day compared to nighttime, but elephants used areas within their home ranges differently between day and night. Elephants in all three reserves generally selected forest and woodland habitats over grasslands, but elephants in iSimangaliso selected exotic forest plantations over native habitat types. Our findings suggest that chronic stress is associated with restricted space use and altered habitat preferences that resemble a facultative refuge behavioral response. Elephants can maintain elevated FGM levels for ≥ 6 years following translocation, during which they exhibit refuge behavior that is likely a result of human disturbance and habitat conditions. Wildlife managers planning to translocate animals, or to initiate other management

  1. Source compositions of trace gases released during African savanna fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cofer, Wesley R.; Levine, Joel S.; Winstead, Edward L.; Cahoon, Donald R.; Sebacher, Daniel I.; Pinto, Joseph P.; Stocks, Brian J.

    1996-10-01

    Measurements of biomass burn-produced trace gases were made using low-altitude helicopter penetrations of smoke plumes above burning African savanna during the Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative (SAFARI-92). Smoke from two large prescribed fires conducted in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, on September 18 and 24, 1992, was sampled at altitudes ranging from 20 to 100 m above ground level during flaming and smoldering phases of combustion. Carbon dioxide (CO2) normalized emission ratios (dX/dCO2 (vol/vol), where X denotes a trace gas) for carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), total nonmethane hydrocarbons (TNMHC), and nitrous oxide (N2O) were determined. The emission ratios were used in conjunction with fuel consumption estimates to calculate emission factors (grams of product per gram of fuel) for these gases. Emission factors for CO2, CO, CH4, and N2O of 1.61, 0.055, 0.003, and 1.6 × 10-4 g/g fuel, respectively, were determined. The fires advanced rapidly through the savanna (primarily grass) fuels with minimal amounts of smoldering combustion. The relatively low emission ratios determined for these fires indicated excellent combustion efficiency. About 93% of the carbon released into the atmosphere as a result of these fires was in the form of CO2.

  2. The spatial scaling of habitat selection by African elephants.

    PubMed

    de Knegt, Henrik J; van Langevelde, Frank; Skidmore, Andrew K; Delsink, Audrey; Slotow, Rob; Henley, Steve; Bucini, Gabriela; de Boer, Willem F; Coughenour, Michael B; Grant, Cornelia C; Heitkönig, Ignas M A; Henley, Michelle; Knox, Nicky M; Kohi, Edward M; Mwakiwa, Emmanuel; Page, Bruce R; Peel, Mike; Pretorius, Yolanda; van Wieren, Sipke E; Prins, Herbert H T

    2011-01-01

    1. Understanding and accurately predicting the spatial patterns of habitat use by organisms is important for ecological research, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. However, this understanding is complicated by the effects of spatial scale, because the scale of analysis affects the quantification of species-environment relationships. 2. We therefore assessed the influence of environmental context (i.e. the characteristics of the landscape surrounding a site), varied over a large range of scales (i.e. ambit radii around focal sites), on the analysis and prediction of habitat selection by African elephants in Kruger National Park, South Africa. 3. We focused on the spatial scaling of the elephants' response to their main resources, forage and water, and found that the quantification of habitat selection strongly depended on the scales at which environmental context was considered. Moreover, the inclusion of environmental context at characteristic scales (i.e. those at which habitat selectivity was maximized) increased the predictive capacity of habitat suitability models. 4. The elephants responded to their environment in a scale-dependent and perhaps hierarchical manner, with forage characteristics driving habitat selection at coarse spatial scales, and surface water at fine spatial scales. 5. Furthermore, the elephants exhibited sexual habitat segregation, mainly in relation to vegetation characteristics. Male elephants preferred areas with high tree cover and low herbaceous biomass, whereas this pattern was reversed for female elephants. 6. We show that the spatial distribution of elephants can be better understood and predicted when scale-dependent species-environment relationships are explicitly considered. This demonstrates the importance of considering the influence of spatial scale on the analysis of spatial patterning in ecological phenomena.

  3. Seismic Census Technique for African Elephants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wood, J. D.; O'Connell-Rodwell, C. E.; Klemperer, S. L.

    2005-12-01

    Large mammal populations are difficult to census and monitor in remote areas. In particular, elephant populations in Central Africa are difficult to census due to dense forest making aerial surveys impractical. Conservation management would be improved by a census technique that was accurate and precise, did not require large efforts in the field, and could record numbers of animals over a period of time. We report a new detection technique that relies on sensing the footfalls of large mammals. Geophones were used to record the footfalls of elephants and other large mammal species at a water hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia. We were able to discriminate between species using the spectral content of their footfalls with an 85% accuracy rate while only using a single geophone. This was done using correlation coefficients comparing the shape of the spectra for various species. An ANOVA found significant differences between these correlation coefficients (F4,1785 = 147.78, P = 0.000). An estimate of the energy created by passing elephants (the area under the amplitude envelope) can be used to estimate the number of elephants passing the geophone. Our best regression line plotting number of elephants versus energy recorded in the geophone explained 55% of the variance in the data. Much of the unexplained variance is due to the variation in distance from the geophone to the passing elephants. By subjecting the recordings to a narrow band-pass filter and using beamforming techniques on array data, we believe that we can control for the variation in distance between animal and geophones, and thus achieve better estimates of the number of animals passing the array. Using 7 pairs of geophones in a linear array, we offset the pairs of time series to correspond with the time delay associated with the signal intersecting the pair of geophones at increments of 2 degrees. The offset time series were then summed and the RMS value calculated. The largest RMS value was then

  4. Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants

    PubMed Central

    Wittemyer, George; Northrup, Joseph M.; Blanc, Julian; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Omondi, Patrick; Burnham, Kenneth P.

    2014-01-01

    Illegal wildlife trade has reached alarming levels globally, extirpating populations of commercially valuable species. As a driver of biodiversity loss, quantifying illegal harvest is essential for conservation and sociopolitical affairs but notoriously difficult. Here we combine field-based carcass monitoring with fine-scale demographic data from an intensively studied wild African elephant population in Samburu, Kenya, to partition mortality into natural and illegal causes. We then expand our analytical framework to model illegal killing rates and population trends of elephants at regional and continental scales using carcass data collected by a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species program. At the intensively monitored site, illegal killing increased markedly after 2008 and was correlated strongly with the local black market ivory price and increased seizures of ivory destined for China. More broadly, results from application to continental data indicated illegal killing levels were unsustainable for the species between 2010 and 2012, peaking to ∼8% in 2011 which extrapolates to ∼40,000 elephants illegally killed and a probable species reduction of ∼3% that year. Preliminary data from 2013 indicate overharvesting continued. In contrast to the rest of Africa, our analysis corroborates that Central African forest elephants experienced decline throughout the last decade. These results provide the most comprehensive assessment of illegal ivory harvest to date and confirm that current ivory consumption is not sustainable. Further, our approach provides a powerful basis to determine cryptic mortality and gain understanding of the demography of at-risk species. PMID:25136107

  5. Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Wittemyer, George; Northrup, Joseph M; Blanc, Julian; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Omondi, Patrick; Burnham, Kenneth P

    2014-09-01

    Illegal wildlife trade has reached alarming levels globally, extirpating populations of commercially valuable species. As a driver of biodiversity loss, quantifying illegal harvest is essential for conservation and sociopolitical affairs but notoriously difficult. Here we combine field-based carcass monitoring with fine-scale demographic data from an intensively studied wild African elephant population in Samburu, Kenya, to partition mortality into natural and illegal causes. We then expand our analytical framework to model illegal killing rates and population trends of elephants at regional and continental scales using carcass data collected by a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species program. At the intensively monitored site, illegal killing increased markedly after 2008 and was correlated strongly with the local black market ivory price and increased seizures of ivory destined for China. More broadly, results from application to continental data indicated illegal killing levels were unsustainable for the species between 2010 and 2012, peaking to ∼ 8% in 2011 which extrapolates to ∼ 40,000 elephants illegally killed and a probable species reduction of ∼ 3% that year. Preliminary data from 2013 indicate overharvesting continued. In contrast to the rest of Africa, our analysis corroborates that Central African forest elephants experienced decline throughout the last decade. These results provide the most comprehensive assessment of illegal ivory harvest to date and confirm that current ivory consumption is not sustainable. Further, our approach provides a powerful basis to determine cryptic mortality and gain understanding of the demography of at-risk species.

  6. Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Wittemyer, George; Northrup, Joseph M; Blanc, Julian; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Omondi, Patrick; Burnham, Kenneth P

    2014-09-01

    Illegal wildlife trade has reached alarming levels globally, extirpating populations of commercially valuable species. As a driver of biodiversity loss, quantifying illegal harvest is essential for conservation and sociopolitical affairs but notoriously difficult. Here we combine field-based carcass monitoring with fine-scale demographic data from an intensively studied wild African elephant population in Samburu, Kenya, to partition mortality into natural and illegal causes. We then expand our analytical framework to model illegal killing rates and population trends of elephants at regional and continental scales using carcass data collected by a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species program. At the intensively monitored site, illegal killing increased markedly after 2008 and was correlated strongly with the local black market ivory price and increased seizures of ivory destined for China. More broadly, results from application to continental data indicated illegal killing levels were unsustainable for the species between 2010 and 2012, peaking to ∼ 8% in 2011 which extrapolates to ∼ 40,000 elephants illegally killed and a probable species reduction of ∼ 3% that year. Preliminary data from 2013 indicate overharvesting continued. In contrast to the rest of Africa, our analysis corroborates that Central African forest elephants experienced decline throughout the last decade. These results provide the most comprehensive assessment of illegal ivory harvest to date and confirm that current ivory consumption is not sustainable. Further, our approach provides a powerful basis to determine cryptic mortality and gain understanding of the demography of at-risk species. PMID:25136107

  7. Architectural organization of the african elephant diencephalon and brainstem.

    PubMed

    Maseko, Busisiwe C; Patzke, Nina; Fuxe, Kjell; Manger, Paul R

    2013-01-01

    The current study examined the organization of the diencephalon and brainstem of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) - a region of the elephant brain that has not been examined for at least 50 years. The current description, employing material amenable for use with modern neuroanatomical methods, shows that, for the most part, the elephant diencephalon and brainstem are what could be considered typically mammalian, with subtle differences in proportions and topology. The variations from these previous descriptions, where they occurred, were related to four specific aspects of neural information processing: (1) the motor systems, (2) the auditory and vocalization systems, (3) the orexinergic satiety/wakefulness centre of the hypothalamus and the locus coeruleus, and (4) the potential neurogenic lining of the brainstem. For the motor systems, three specific structures exhibited interesting differences in organization - the pars compacta of the substantia nigra, the facial motor nerve nucleus, and the inferior olivary nuclear complex, all related to the timing and learning of movements and likely related to the control of the trunk. The dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra appear to form distinct islands separated from each other by large fibre pathways, an appearance unique to the elephant. Each island may send topologically organized projections to the striatum forming a dopaminergic innervation mosaic that may relate to trunk movements. At least five regions of the combined vocalization production and auditory/seismic reception system were specialized, including the large and distinct nucleus ellipticus of the periaqueductal grey matter, the enlarged lateral superior olivary nucleus, the novel transverse infrageniculate nucleus of the dorsal thalamus, the enlarged dorsal column nuclei and the ventral posterior inferior nucleus of the dorsal thalamus. These specializations, related to production and reception of infrasound, allow the proposal of a

  8. Continent-wide survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephants.

    PubMed

    Chase, Michael J; Schlossberg, Scott; Griffin, Curtice R; Bouché, Philippe J C; Djene, Sintayehu W; Elkan, Paul W; Ferreira, Sam; Grossman, Falk; Kohi, Edward Mtarima; Landen, Kelly; Omondi, Patrick; Peltier, Alexis; Selier, S A Jeanetta; Sutcliffe, Robert

    2016-01-01

    African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are imperiled by poaching and habitat loss. Despite global attention to the plight of elephants, their population sizes and trends are uncertain or unknown over much of Africa. To conserve this iconic species, conservationists need timely, accurate data on elephant populations. Here, we report the results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC), the first continent-wide, standardized survey of African savannah elephants. We also provide the first quantitative model of elephant population trends across Africa. We estimated a population of 352,271 savannah elephants on study sites in 18 countries, representing approximately 93% of all savannah elephants in those countries. Elephant populations in survey areas with historical data decreased by an estimated 144,000 from 2007 to 2014, and populations are currently shrinking by 8% per year continent-wide, primarily due to poaching. Though 84% of elephants occurred in protected areas, many protected areas had carcass ratios that indicated high levels of elephant mortality. Results of the GEC show the necessity of action to end the African elephants' downward trajectory by preventing poaching and protecting habitat. PMID:27635327

  9. Continent-wide survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephants.

    PubMed

    Chase, Michael J; Schlossberg, Scott; Griffin, Curtice R; Bouché, Philippe J C; Djene, Sintayehu W; Elkan, Paul W; Ferreira, Sam; Grossman, Falk; Kohi, Edward Mtarima; Landen, Kelly; Omondi, Patrick; Peltier, Alexis; Selier, S A Jeanetta; Sutcliffe, Robert

    2016-01-01

    African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are imperiled by poaching and habitat loss. Despite global attention to the plight of elephants, their population sizes and trends are uncertain or unknown over much of Africa. To conserve this iconic species, conservationists need timely, accurate data on elephant populations. Here, we report the results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC), the first continent-wide, standardized survey of African savannah elephants. We also provide the first quantitative model of elephant population trends across Africa. We estimated a population of 352,271 savannah elephants on study sites in 18 countries, representing approximately 93% of all savannah elephants in those countries. Elephant populations in survey areas with historical data decreased by an estimated 144,000 from 2007 to 2014, and populations are currently shrinking by 8% per year continent-wide, primarily due to poaching. Though 84% of elephants occurred in protected areas, many protected areas had carcass ratios that indicated high levels of elephant mortality. Results of the GEC show the necessity of action to end the African elephants' downward trajectory by preventing poaching and protecting habitat.

  10. Evapotranspiration partitioning in a semi-arid African savanna using stable isotopes of water vapor

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Soderberg, K.; Good, S. P.; O'Connor, M.; King, E. G.; Caylor, K. K.

    2012-04-01

    Evapotranspiration (ET) represents a major flux of water out of semi-arid ecosystems. Thus, understanding ET dynamics is central to the study of African savanna health and productivity. At our study site in central Kenya (Mpala Research Centre), we have been using stable isotopes of water vapor to partition ET into its constituent parts of plant transpiration (T) and soil evaporation (E). This effort includes continuous measurement (1 Hz) of δ2H and δ18O in water vapor using a portable water vapor isotope analyzer mounted on a 22.5 m eddy covariance flux tower. The flux tower has been collecting data since early 2010. The isotopic end-member of δET is calculated using a Keeling Plot approach, whereas δT and δE are measured directly via a leaf chamber and tubing buried in the soil, respectively. Here we report on a two recent sets of measurements for partitioning ET in the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE) and a nearby grassland. We combine leaf level measurements of photosynthesis and water use with canopy-scale isotope measurements for ET partitioning. In the KLEE experiment we compare ET partitioning in a 4 ha plot that has only seen cattle grazing for the past 15 years with an adjacent plot that has undergone grazing by both cattle and wild herbivores (antelope, elephants, giraffe). These results are compared with a detailed study of ET in an artificially watered grassland.

  11. Matriarchs as repositories of social knowledge in African elephants.

    PubMed

    McComb, K; Moss, C; Durant, S M; Baker, L; Sayialel, S

    2001-04-20

    Despite widespread interest in the evolution of social intelligence, little is known about how wild animals acquire and store information about social companions or whether individuals possessing enhanced social knowledge derive biological fitness benefits. Using playback experiments on African elephants (Loxodonta africana), we demonstrated that the possession of enhanced discriminatory abilities by the oldest individual in a group can influence the social knowledge of the group as a whole. These superior abilities for social discrimination may result in higher per capita reproductive success for female groups led by older individuals. Our findings imply that the removal of older, more experienced individuals, which are often targets for hunters because of their large size, could have serious consequences for endangered populations of advanced social mammals such as elephants and whales.

  12. Continent-wide survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephants

    PubMed Central

    Schlossberg, Scott; Griffin, Curtice R.; Bouché, Philippe J.C.; Djene, Sintayehu W.; Elkan, Paul W.; Ferreira, Sam; Grossman, Falk; Kohi, Edward Mtarima; Landen, Kelly; Omondi, Patrick; Peltier, Alexis; Selier, S.A. Jeanetta; Sutcliffe, Robert

    2016-01-01

    African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are imperiled by poaching and habitat loss. Despite global attention to the plight of elephants, their population sizes and trends are uncertain or unknown over much of Africa. To conserve this iconic species, conservationists need timely, accurate data on elephant populations. Here, we report the results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC), the first continent-wide, standardized survey of African savannah elephants. We also provide the first quantitative model of elephant population trends across Africa. We estimated a population of 352,271 savannah elephants on study sites in 18 countries, representing approximately 93% of all savannah elephants in those countries. Elephant populations in survey areas with historical data decreased by an estimated 144,000 from 2007 to 2014, and populations are currently shrinking by 8% per year continent-wide, primarily due to poaching. Though 84% of elephants occurred in protected areas, many protected areas had carcass ratios that indicated high levels of elephant mortality. Results of the GEC show the necessity of action to end the African elephants’ downward trajectory by preventing poaching and protecting habitat.

  13. Continent-wide survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephants

    PubMed Central

    Schlossberg, Scott; Griffin, Curtice R.; Bouché, Philippe J.C.; Djene, Sintayehu W.; Elkan, Paul W.; Ferreira, Sam; Grossman, Falk; Kohi, Edward Mtarima; Landen, Kelly; Omondi, Patrick; Peltier, Alexis; Selier, S.A. Jeanetta; Sutcliffe, Robert

    2016-01-01

    African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are imperiled by poaching and habitat loss. Despite global attention to the plight of elephants, their population sizes and trends are uncertain or unknown over much of Africa. To conserve this iconic species, conservationists need timely, accurate data on elephant populations. Here, we report the results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC), the first continent-wide, standardized survey of African savannah elephants. We also provide the first quantitative model of elephant population trends across Africa. We estimated a population of 352,271 savannah elephants on study sites in 18 countries, representing approximately 93% of all savannah elephants in those countries. Elephant populations in survey areas with historical data decreased by an estimated 144,000 from 2007 to 2014, and populations are currently shrinking by 8% per year continent-wide, primarily due to poaching. Though 84% of elephants occurred in protected areas, many protected areas had carcass ratios that indicated high levels of elephant mortality. Results of the GEC show the necessity of action to end the African elephants’ downward trajectory by preventing poaching and protecting habitat. PMID:27635327

  14. Disruption of a protective ant-plant mutualism by an invasive ant increases elephant damage to savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna; Karande, Megan A; Rubenstein, Daniel I; Palmer, Todd M

    2015-03-01

    Invasive species can indirectly affect ecosystem processes via the disruption of mutualisms. The mutualism between the whistling thorn acacia (Acacia drepanolobium) and four species of symbiotic ants is an ecologically important one; ants strongly defend trees against elephants, which can otherwise have dramatic impacts on tree cover. In Laikipia, Kenya, the invasive big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) has established itself at numerous locations within the last 10-15 years. In invaded areas on five properties, we found that three species of symbiotic Crematogaster ants were virtually extirpated, whereas Tetraponera penzigi co-occurred with P. megacephala. T. penzigi appears to persist because of its nonaggressive behavior; in a whole-tree translocation experiment, Crematogaster defended host trees against P. megacephala, but were extirpated from trees within hours. In contrast, T. penzigi retreated into domatia and withstood invading ants for >30 days. In the field, the loss of defensive Crematogaster ants in invaded areas led to a five- to sevenfold increase in the number of trees catastrophically damaged by elephants compared to uninvaded areas. In savannas, tree cover drives many ecosystem processes and provides essential forage for many large mammal species; thus, the invasion of big-headed ants may strongly alter the dynamics and diversity of East Africa's whistling thorn savannas by disrupting this system's keystone acaciaant mutualism. PMID:26236862

  15. The elephants of Zoba Gash Barka, Eritrea: part 4. Cholelithiasis in a wild African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Agnew, Dalen W; Hagey, Lee; Shoshani, Jeheskel

    2005-12-01

    A 4.0-kg cholelith was found within the abdominal cavity of a dead wild African elephant (Loxodonta africana) in Eritrea. Analysis of this cholelith by histochemistry, electron microscopy, electrospray mass spectroscopy, and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy revealed it was composed of bile alcohols but no calcium, bilirubin, or cholesterol. Bacteria were also found in the cholelith. Similar, but smaller, bile stones have been identified previously in other wild African elephants and an excavated mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). Choleliths have been reported only once in a captive Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Elephants, along with hyraxes (Procavia capensis) and manatees (Trichechus manatus), are unique among mammals in producing only bile alcohols and no bile acids, which may predispose them to cholelithiasis, particularly in association with bacterial infection. Dietary factors may also play an important role in cholelith formation. PMID:17312726

  16. Elephant natural history: a genomic perspective.

    PubMed

    Roca, Alfred L; Ishida, Yasuko; Brandt, Adam L; Benjamin, Neal R; Zhao, Kai; Georgiadis, Nicholas J

    2015-01-01

    We review DNA-based studies of elephants and recently extinct proboscideans. The evidence indicates that little or no nuclear gene flow occurs between African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) and African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), establishing that they comprise separate species. In all elephant species, males disperse, whereas females remain with their natal social group, leading to discordance in the phylogeography of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA patterns. Improvements in ancient DNA methods have permitted sequences to be generated from an increasing number of proboscidean fossils and have definitively established that the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is the closest living relative of the extinct woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). DNA-based methods have been developed to determine the geographic provenance of confiscated ivory in an effort to aid the conservation of elephants.

  17. Elephant natural history: a genomic perspective.

    PubMed

    Roca, Alfred L; Ishida, Yasuko; Brandt, Adam L; Benjamin, Neal R; Zhao, Kai; Georgiadis, Nicholas J

    2015-01-01

    We review DNA-based studies of elephants and recently extinct proboscideans. The evidence indicates that little or no nuclear gene flow occurs between African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) and African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), establishing that they comprise separate species. In all elephant species, males disperse, whereas females remain with their natal social group, leading to discordance in the phylogeography of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA patterns. Improvements in ancient DNA methods have permitted sequences to be generated from an increasing number of proboscidean fossils and have definitively established that the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is the closest living relative of the extinct woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). DNA-based methods have been developed to determine the geographic provenance of confiscated ivory in an effort to aid the conservation of elephants. PMID:25493538

  18. Ivory Harvesting Pressure on the Genome of the African Elephant: A Phenotypic Shift to Tusklessness.

    PubMed

    Raubenheimer, Erich J; Miniggio, Hilde D

    2016-09-01

    The unique chequered pattern of elephant ivory has made it a desired commodity for the production of various works of art. The demand however outstrips the supply and with soaring prices, illegal tusk harvesting is thriving on the African continent. Formal restrictions placed on trade in elephant products have been ineffective in reversing the rapid decline in elephant numbers. We are presently facing the reality of extinction of free roaming elephant on the African continent. This paper describes the histogenesis of the chequered pattern, the genomic impact of ivory harvesting on the phenotype of breeding herds, and the contribution of science to tracing the origin of illegal ivory. PMID:26920555

  19. Ivory Harvesting Pressure on the Genome of the African Elephant: A Phenotypic Shift to Tusklessness.

    PubMed

    Raubenheimer, Erich J; Miniggio, Hilde D

    2016-09-01

    The unique chequered pattern of elephant ivory has made it a desired commodity for the production of various works of art. The demand however outstrips the supply and with soaring prices, illegal tusk harvesting is thriving on the African continent. Formal restrictions placed on trade in elephant products have been ineffective in reversing the rapid decline in elephant numbers. We are presently facing the reality of extinction of free roaming elephant on the African continent. This paper describes the histogenesis of the chequered pattern, the genomic impact of ivory harvesting on the phenotype of breeding herds, and the contribution of science to tracing the origin of illegal ivory.

  20. Climate influences thermal balance and water use in African and Asian elephants: physiology can predict drivers of elephant distribution.

    PubMed

    Dunkin, Robin C; Wilson, Dinah; Way, Nicolas; Johnson, Kari; Williams, Terrie M

    2013-08-01

    Elephant movement patterns in relation to surface water demonstrate that they are a water-dependent species. Thus, there has been interest in using surface water management to mitigate problems associated with localized elephant overabundance. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying the elephant's water dependence remain unclear. Although thermoregulation is likely an important driver, the relationship between thermoregulation, water use and climate has not been quantified. We measured skin surface temperature of and cutaneous water loss from 13 elephants (seven African, 3768±642 kg; six Asian, 3834±498 kg) and determined the contribution of evaporative cooling to their thermal and water budgets across a range of air temperatures (8-33°C). We also measured respiratory evaporative water loss and resting metabolic heat production on a subset of elephants (N=7). The rate of cutaneous evaporative water loss ranged between 0.31 and 8.9 g min(-1) m(-2) for Asian elephants and 0.26 and 6.5 g min(-1) m(-2) for African elephants. Simulated thermal and water budgets using climate data from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and Okaukuejo, Namibia, suggested that the 24-h evaporative cooling water debt incurred in warm climates can be more than 4.5 times that incurred in mesic climates. This study confirms elephants are obligate evaporative coolers but suggests that classification of elephants as water dependent is insufficient given the importance of climate in determining the magnitude of this dependence. These data highlight the potential for a physiological modeling approach to predicting the utility of surface water management for specific populations.

  1. Climate influences thermal balance and water use in African and Asian elephants: physiology can predict drivers of elephant distribution.

    PubMed

    Dunkin, Robin C; Wilson, Dinah; Way, Nicolas; Johnson, Kari; Williams, Terrie M

    2013-08-01

    Elephant movement patterns in relation to surface water demonstrate that they are a water-dependent species. Thus, there has been interest in using surface water management to mitigate problems associated with localized elephant overabundance. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying the elephant's water dependence remain unclear. Although thermoregulation is likely an important driver, the relationship between thermoregulation, water use and climate has not been quantified. We measured skin surface temperature of and cutaneous water loss from 13 elephants (seven African, 3768±642 kg; six Asian, 3834±498 kg) and determined the contribution of evaporative cooling to their thermal and water budgets across a range of air temperatures (8-33°C). We also measured respiratory evaporative water loss and resting metabolic heat production on a subset of elephants (N=7). The rate of cutaneous evaporative water loss ranged between 0.31 and 8.9 g min(-1) m(-2) for Asian elephants and 0.26 and 6.5 g min(-1) m(-2) for African elephants. Simulated thermal and water budgets using climate data from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and Okaukuejo, Namibia, suggested that the 24-h evaporative cooling water debt incurred in warm climates can be more than 4.5 times that incurred in mesic climates. This study confirms elephants are obligate evaporative coolers but suggests that classification of elephants as water dependent is insufficient given the importance of climate in determining the magnitude of this dependence. These data highlight the potential for a physiological modeling approach to predicting the utility of surface water management for specific populations. PMID:23842629

  2. Systematic review on the conservation genetics of African savannah elephants

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    Background In this paper we review the conservation genetics of African savannah elephants, aiming to understand the spatio-temporal research trends and their underlying factors. As such, we explore three questions associated to the conservation genetics and molecular ecology of these elephants: (1) what are the research trends concerning the conservation genetics of Loxodonta africana? (2) Do richer countries conduct more research on the genetics of African elephants? (3) Which attributes influence where scholars conduct their research? Materials and Methods We examined available peer-reviewed publications from 1993 to 2014 in complementary online databases, including the ISI/Web of Science (WoS), Scopus and Google Scholar (GS), and searched for publications in scientific journals as well as in the reference section of these publications. We analyzed the annual trend of publications in this field of research, including the number of authors, levels of collaboration among authors, year of publication, publishing journal and the countries from where genetic samples were collected. Additionally, we identified main research clusters, authors, and institutional collaborations, based on co-citation and co-occurrence networks. Results We found that during the study period there was a positive trend in the number of publications and a reduction in the number of authors per paper. Twenty-five countries contributed, with the majority of publications authored by researchers in the USA, Kenya and South Africa. The majority of samples were collected in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Research outputs are associated with the existence of long-term conservation/research projects and research potential as measured by the literacy rate and the number of higher education institutions in a country. Five research clusters were identified, focusing on the origin and evolution of the species, methodological issues and the relatedness among elephant species. Conclusions Research in

  3. The fluidity of blood in African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Windberger, U; Plasenzotti, R; Voracek, Th

    2005-01-01

    The large cellular volume of erythrocytes and the increased plasma concentration of proteins in elephants are factors which potentially affect blood rheology adversely. To verify blood rheology, routine hemorheologic variables were analyzed in four African elephants (Loxodonta africana), housed in the zoo of Vienna. Whole blood viscosity at three different shear rates (WBV at low shear rate: WBV 0.7 s(-1) and WBV 2.4 s(-1); WBV at high shear rate: WBV 94 s(-1) done by LS30, Contraves) and erythrocyte aggregation (aggregation indices AI by LS30; aggregation indices M0, M1 by Myrenne aggregometer) were high (WBV 94 s(-1): 5.368 (5.246/5.648); WBV 2.4 s(-1): 16.291 (15.605/17.629); WBV 0.7 s(-1): 28.28 (25.537/32.173) mPa s; AI 2.4 s(-1): 0.25 (0.23/0.30); AI 0.7 s(-1): 0.24 (0.23/0.28); M0: 7.8 (6.4/8.4); M1: 30.2 (25/31)). Plasma viscosity (PV) was increased as well (1.865 (1.857/1.912) mPa s) compared to other mammalian species. These parameters would indicate a decrease in blood fluidity in elephants. However, erythrocyte rigidity (LORCA, Mechatronics) was decreased, which in contrast, has a promotive effect on peripheral perfusion. Blood rheology of the elephants was determined by a high whole blood and plasma viscosity as the result of pronounced erythrocyte aggregation and high plasma protein concentration. Thus, in the terminal vessels the resistance to flow will be increased. The large erythrocytes, which might impede blood flow further due to geometrical reasons, however, had a pronounced flexibility. We conclude that the effect of the increased inner resistance to peripheral blood flow was counteracted by the decreased rigidity of the erythrocytes to enable an adequate blood flow in African elephants.

  4. Effects of economic downturns on mortality of wild African elephants.

    PubMed

    Wittemyer, George

    2011-10-01

    Declines in economic activity and associated changes in human livelihood strategies can increase threats of species overexploitation. This is exemplified by the effects of economic crises, which often drive intensification of subsistence poaching and greater reliance on natural resources. Whereas development theory links natural resource use to social-economic conditions, few empirical studies of the effect of economic downturns on wild animal species have been conducted. I assessed the relations between African elephant (Loxodonta africana) mortality and human-caused wounds in Samburu, Kenya and (1) livestock and maize prices (measures of local economic conditions), (2) change in national and regional gross domestic product (GDP) (measures of macroeconomic conditions), and (3) the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) (a correlate of primary productivity). In addition, I analyzed household survey data to determine the attitudes of local people toward protected areas and wild animals in the area. When cattle prices in the pastoralist study region were low, human-caused wounds to and adult mortality of elephants increased. The NDVI was negatively correlated with juvenile mortality, but not correlated with adult mortality. Changes in Kenyan and East Asian (primary market for ivory) GDP did not explain significant variation in mortality. Increased human wounding of elephants and elephant mortality during periods of low livestock prices (local economic downturns) likely reflect an economically driven increase in ivory poaching. Local but not macroeconomic indices explained significant variation in mortality, likely due to the dominance of the subsistence economy in the study area and its political and economic isolation. My results suggest economic metrics can serve as effective indicators of changes in human use of and resulting effects on natural resources. Such information can help focus management approaches (e.g., antipoaching effort or proffering of

  5. Effects of economic downturns on mortality of wild African elephants.

    PubMed

    Wittemyer, George

    2011-10-01

    Declines in economic activity and associated changes in human livelihood strategies can increase threats of species overexploitation. This is exemplified by the effects of economic crises, which often drive intensification of subsistence poaching and greater reliance on natural resources. Whereas development theory links natural resource use to social-economic conditions, few empirical studies of the effect of economic downturns on wild animal species have been conducted. I assessed the relations between African elephant (Loxodonta africana) mortality and human-caused wounds in Samburu, Kenya and (1) livestock and maize prices (measures of local economic conditions), (2) change in national and regional gross domestic product (GDP) (measures of macroeconomic conditions), and (3) the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) (a correlate of primary productivity). In addition, I analyzed household survey data to determine the attitudes of local people toward protected areas and wild animals in the area. When cattle prices in the pastoralist study region were low, human-caused wounds to and adult mortality of elephants increased. The NDVI was negatively correlated with juvenile mortality, but not correlated with adult mortality. Changes in Kenyan and East Asian (primary market for ivory) GDP did not explain significant variation in mortality. Increased human wounding of elephants and elephant mortality during periods of low livestock prices (local economic downturns) likely reflect an economically driven increase in ivory poaching. Local but not macroeconomic indices explained significant variation in mortality, likely due to the dominance of the subsistence economy in the study area and its political and economic isolation. My results suggest economic metrics can serve as effective indicators of changes in human use of and resulting effects on natural resources. Such information can help focus management approaches (e.g., antipoaching effort or proffering of

  6. Spatial pattern enhances ecosystem functioning in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Doak, Daniel F; Brody, Alison K; Jocqué, Rudy; Palmer, Todd M

    2010-05-25

    The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide empirical support for this prediction. In dryland ecosystems, termite mounds are often hotspots of plant growth (primary productivity). Using detailed observations and manipulative experiments in an African savanna, we show that these mounds are also local hotspots of animal abundance (secondary and tertiary productivity): insect abundance and biomass decreased with distance from the nearest termite mound, as did the abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of insect-eating predators. Null-model analyses indicated that at the landscape scale, the evenly spaced distribution of termite mounds produced dramatically greater abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of consumers across trophic levels than would be obtained in landscapes with randomly distributed mounds. These emergent properties of spatial pattern arose because the average distance from an arbitrarily chosen point to the nearest feature in a landscape is minimized in landscapes where the features are hyper-dispersed (i.e., uniformly spaced). This suggests that the linkage between patterning and ecosystem functioning will be common to systems spanning the range of human management intensities. The centrality of spatial pattern to system-wide biomass accumulation underscores the need to conserve pattern-generating organisms and mechanisms, and to incorporate landscape patterning in efforts to restore degraded habitats and maximize the delivery of ecosystem services.

  7. Personality assessment and its association with genetic factors in captive Asian and African elephants.

    PubMed

    Yasui, Saki; Konno, Akitsugu; Tanaka, Masayuki; Idani, Gen'ichi; Ludwig, Arne; Lieckfeldt, Dietmar; Inoue-Murayama, Miho

    2013-01-01

    Elephants live in a complex society based on matrilineal groups. Management of captive elephants is difficult, partly because each elephant has a unique personality. For a better understanding of elephant well being in captivity, it would be helpful to systematically evaluate elephants' personalities and their underlying biological basis. We sent elephant' personality questionnaires to keepers of 75 elephants. We also used 196 elephant DNA samples to search for genetic polymorphisms in genes expressed in the brain that have been suggested to be related to personality traits. Three genes, androgen receptor (AR), fragile X related mental retardation protein interacting protein (NUFIP2), and acheate-scute homologs 1 (ASH1) contained polymorphic regions. We examined the association of personality with intraspecific genetic variation in 17 Asian and 28 African elephants. The results suggest that the ASH1 genotype was associated with neuroticism in Asian elephants. Subjects with short alleles had lower scores of neuroticism than those with long alleles. This is the first report of an association between a genetic polymorphism and personality in elephants.

  8. Spatial Pattern Enhances Ecosystem Functioning in an African Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Pringle, Robert M.; Doak, Daniel F.; Brody, Alison K.; Jocqué, Rudy; Palmer, Todd M.

    2010-01-01

    The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide empirical support for this prediction. In dryland ecosystems, termite mounds are often hotspots of plant growth (primary productivity). Using detailed observations and manipulative experiments in an African savanna, we show that these mounds are also local hotspots of animal abundance (secondary and tertiary productivity): insect abundance and biomass decreased with distance from the nearest termite mound, as did the abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of insect-eating predators. Null-model analyses indicated that at the landscape scale, the evenly spaced distribution of termite mounds produced dramatically greater abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of consumers across trophic levels than would be obtained in landscapes with randomly distributed mounds. These emergent properties of spatial pattern arose because the average distance from an arbitrarily chosen point to the nearest feature in a landscape is minimized in landscapes where the features are hyper-dispersed (i.e., uniformly spaced). This suggests that the linkage between patterning and ecosystem functioning will be common to systems spanning the range of human management intensities. The centrality of spatial pattern to system-wide biomass accumulation underscores the need to conserve pattern-generating organisms and mechanisms, and to incorporate landscape patterning in efforts to restore degraded habitats and maximize the delivery of ecosystem services. PMID:20520846

  9. Identification of sequence tagged sites in the Asian and African elephant.

    PubMed

    Burk, N E; Messer, L A; Ernst, C W; Rothschild, M F

    1998-01-01

    To date, gene identification in elephants has essentially related to evolutionary studies. Further identification of genes in elephants could provide additional information for evolutionary studies and for evaluating genetic diversity in existing elephant populations. The objective of this project was to identify sequence tagged sites (STSs) in the Asian and the African elephant for the following genes: melatonin receptor 1a (MTNR1A), retinoic acid receptor beta (RARB), and leptin receptor (LEPR). These genes are highly conserved among mammals, and all may play a role in reproduction. Heterologous primers for PCR were designed from sequences available in other species. Fragments of size 141 base pairs (bp) for RARB and 327 bp for LEPR were obtained by amplifying genomic Asian and African elephant DNA. The LEPR fragment included an intron of 164 bp. Also, a 417 bp fragment for MTNR1A was obtained in the Asian elephant only. All PCR products were sequenced and comparison computations were made at the nucleotide and amino acid levels to sequence available in the GenBank database. Nucleotide sequence for RARB was identical for both Asian and African elephants and differed by only 3 bp for LEPR. Deduced amino acid sequence was identical for both STSs in both species. Elephants were relatively similar in comparison to other mammals and less similar to chickens.

  10. Spiny plants, mammal browsers, and the origin of African savannas.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Davies, T Jonathan; Hempson, Gareth P; Bezeng, Bezeng S; Daru, Barnabas H; Kabongo, Ronny M; Maurin, Olivier; Muasya, A Muthama; van der Bank, Michelle; Bond, William J

    2016-09-20

    Savannas first began to spread across Africa during the Miocene. A major hypothesis for explaining this vegetation change is the increase in C4 grasses, promoting fire. We investigated whether mammals could also have contributed to savanna expansion by using spinescence as a marker of mammal herbivory. Looking at the present distribution of 1,852 tree species, we established that spinescence is mainly associated with two functional types of mammals: large browsers and medium-sized mixed feeders. Using a dated phylogeny for the same tree species, we found that spinescence evolved at least 55 times. The diversification of spiny plants occurred long after the evolution of Afrotherian proboscideans and hyracoids. However, it is remarkably congruent with diversification of bovids, the lineage including the antelope that predominantly browse these plants today. Our findings suggest that herbivore-adapted savannas evolved several million years before fire-maintained savannas and probably, in different environmental conditions. Spiny savannas with abundant mammal herbivores occur in drier climates and on nutrient-rich soils, whereas fire-maintained savannas occur in wetter climates on nutrient-poor soils.

  11. Spiny plants, mammal browsers, and the origin of African savannas.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Davies, T Jonathan; Hempson, Gareth P; Bezeng, Bezeng S; Daru, Barnabas H; Kabongo, Ronny M; Maurin, Olivier; Muasya, A Muthama; van der Bank, Michelle; Bond, William J

    2016-09-20

    Savannas first began to spread across Africa during the Miocene. A major hypothesis for explaining this vegetation change is the increase in C4 grasses, promoting fire. We investigated whether mammals could also have contributed to savanna expansion by using spinescence as a marker of mammal herbivory. Looking at the present distribution of 1,852 tree species, we established that spinescence is mainly associated with two functional types of mammals: large browsers and medium-sized mixed feeders. Using a dated phylogeny for the same tree species, we found that spinescence evolved at least 55 times. The diversification of spiny plants occurred long after the evolution of Afrotherian proboscideans and hyracoids. However, it is remarkably congruent with diversification of bovids, the lineage including the antelope that predominantly browse these plants today. Our findings suggest that herbivore-adapted savannas evolved several million years before fire-maintained savannas and probably, in different environmental conditions. Spiny savannas with abundant mammal herbivores occur in drier climates and on nutrient-rich soils, whereas fire-maintained savannas occur in wetter climates on nutrient-poor soils. PMID:27601649

  12. Seasonal diet and prey preference of the African lion in a waterhole-driven semi-arid savanna.

    PubMed

    Davidson, Zeke; Valeix, Marion; Van Kesteren, Freya; Loveridge, Andrew J; Hunt, Jane E; Murindagomo, Felix; Macdonald, David W

    2013-01-01

    Large carnivores inhabiting ecosystems with heterogeneously distributed environmental resources with strong seasonal variations frequently employ opportunistic foraging strategies, often typified by seasonal switches in diet. In semi-arid ecosystems, herbivore distribution is generally more homogeneous in the wet season, when surface water is abundant, than in the dry season when only permanent sources remain. Here, we investigate the seasonal contribution of the different herbivore species, prey preference and distribution of kills (i.e. feeding locations) of African lions in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, a semi-arid African savanna structured by artificial waterholes. We used data from 245 kills and 74 faecal samples. Buffalo consistently emerged as the most frequently utilised prey in all seasons by both male (56%) and female (33%) lions, contributing the most to lion dietary biomass. Jacobs' index also revealed that buffalo was the most intensively selected species throughout the year. For female lions, kudu and to a lesser extent the group "medium Bovidae" are the most important secondary prey. This study revealed seasonal patterns in secondary prey consumption by female lions partly based on prey ecology with browsers, such as giraffe and kudu, mainly consumed in the early dry season, and grazers, such as zebra and suids, contributing more to female diet in the late dry season. Further, it revealed the opportunistic hunting behaviour of lions for prey as diverse as elephants and mice, with elephants taken mostly as juveniles at the end of the dry season during droughts. Jacobs' index finally revealed a very strong preference for kills within 2 km from a waterhole for all prey species, except small antelopes, in all seasons. This suggested that surface-water resources form passive traps and contribute to the structuring of lion foraging behaviour.

  13. Using genetic profiles of African forest elephants to infer population structure, movements, and habitat use in a conservation and development landscape in Gabon.

    PubMed

    Eggert, L S; Buij, R; Lee, M E; Campbell, P; Dallmeier, F; Fleischer, R C; Alonso, A; Maldonado, J E

    2014-02-01

    Conservation of wide-ranging species, such as the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), depends on fully protected areas and multiple-use areas (MUA) that provide habitat connectivity. In the Gamba Complex of Protected Areas in Gabon, which includes 2 national parks separated by a MUA containing energy and forestry concessions, we studied forest elephants to evaluate the importance of the MUA to wide-ranging species. We extracted DNA from elephant dung samples and used genetic information to identify over 500 individuals in the MUA and the parks. We then examined patterns of nuclear microsatellites and mitochondrial control-region sequences to infer population structure, movement patterns, and habitat use by age and sex. Population structure was weak but significant, and differentiation was more pronounced during the wet season. Within the MUA, males were more strongly associated with open habitats, such as wetlands and savannas, than females during the dry season. Many of the movements detected within and between seasons involved the wetlands and bordering lagoons. Our results suggest that the MUA provides year-round habitat for some elephants and additional habitat for others whose primary range is in the parks. With the continuing loss of roadless wilderness areas in Central Africa, well-managed MUAs will likely be important to the conservation of wide-ranging species.

  14. The elephants of Gash-Barka, Eritrea: nuclear and mitochondrial genetic patterns.

    PubMed

    Brandt, Adam L; Hagos, Yohannes; Yacob, Yohannes; David, Victor A; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Shoshani, Jeheskel; Roca, Alfred L

    2014-01-01

    Eritrea has one of the northernmost populations of African elephants. Only about 100 elephants persist in the Gash-Barka administrative zone. Elephants in Eritrea have become completely isolated, with no gene flow from other elephant populations. The conservation of Eritrean elephants would benefit from an understanding of their genetic affinities to elephants elsewhere on the continent and the degree to which genetic variation persists in the population. Using dung samples from Eritrean elephants, we examined 18 species-diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms in 3 nuclear genes, sequences of mitochondrial HVR1 and ND5, and genotyped 11 microsatellite loci. The sampled Eritrean elephants carried nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers establishing them as savanna elephants, with closer genetic affinity to Eastern than to North Central savanna elephant populations, and contrary to speculation by some scholars that forest elephants were found in Eritrea. Mitochondrial DNA diversity was relatively low, with 2 haplotypes unique to Eritrea predominating. Microsatellite genotypes could only be determined for a small number of elephants but suggested that the population suffers from low genetic diversity. Conservation efforts should aim to protect Eritrean elephants and their habitat in the short run, with restoration of habitat connectivity and genetic diversity as long-term goals.

  15. Molecular characterization of adipose tissue in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Nilsson, Emeli M; Fainberg, Hernan P; Choong, Siew S; Giles, Thomas C; Sells, James; May, Sean; Stansfield, Fiona J; Allen, William R; Emes, Richard D; Mostyn, Alison; Mongan, Nigel P; Yon, Lisa

    2014-01-01

    Adipose tissue (AT) is a dynamic and flexible organ with regulatory roles in physiological functions including metabolism, reproduction and inflammation; secreted adipokines, including leptin, and fatty acids facilitate many of these roles. The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is experiencing serious challenges to optimal reproduction in captivity. The physiological and molecular basis of this impaired fertility remains unknown. AT production of leptin is a crucial molecular link between nutritional status, adiposity and fertility in many species. We propose that leptin has a similar function in the African elephant. African elephant visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue (AT) was obtained from both sexes and a range of ages including females with known pregnancy status. RNA was extracted and histological sections created and analyzed by microarray, PCR and immunohistochemistry respectively. Gas-chromatography was used to determine the fatty acid composition of AT. Microarray expression profiling was used to compare gene expression profiles of AT from pre-pubertal versus reproductively competent adult African elephants. This study demonstrates, for the first time, leptin mRNA and protein expression in African elephant AT. The derived protein sequence of the elephant leptin protein was exploited to determine its relationship within the class I helical cytokine superfamily, which indicates that elephant leptin is most closely related to the leptin orthologs of Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit), Lepus oiostolus (woolly hare), and members of the Ochotonidae (Pika). Immunohistological analysis identified considerable leptin staining within the cytoplasm of adipocytes. Significant differences in fatty acid profiles between pregnant and non-pregnant animals were revealed, most notably a reduction in both linoleic and α linoleic acid in pregnant animals. This report forms the basis for future studies to address the effect of nutrient composition and body

  16. Molecular Characterization of Adipose Tissue in the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    Choong, Siew S.; Giles, Thomas C.; Sells, James; May, Sean; Stansfield, Fiona J.; Allen, William R.; Emes, Richard D.; Mostyn, Alison; Mongan, Nigel P.; Yon, Lisa

    2014-01-01

    Adipose tissue (AT) is a dynamic and flexible organ with regulatory roles in physiological functions including metabolism, reproduction and inflammation; secreted adipokines, including leptin, and fatty acids facilitate many of these roles. The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is experiencing serious challenges to optimal reproduction in captivity. The physiological and molecular basis of this impaired fertility remains unknown. AT production of leptin is a crucial molecular link between nutritional status, adiposity and fertility in many species. We propose that leptin has a similar function in the African elephant. African elephant visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue (AT) was obtained from both sexes and a range of ages including females with known pregnancy status. RNA was extracted and histological sections created and analyzed by microarray, PCR and immunohistochemistry respectively. Gas-chromatography was used to determine the fatty acid composition of AT. Microarray expression profiling was used to compare gene expression profiles of AT from pre-pubertal versus reproductively competent adult African elephants. This study demonstrates, for the first time, leptin mRNA and protein expression in African elephant AT. The derived protein sequence of the elephant leptin protein was exploited to determine its relationship within the class I helical cytokine superfamily, which indicates that elephant leptin is most closely related to the leptin orthologs of Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit), Lepus oiostolus (woolly hare), and members of the Ochotonidae (Pika). Immunohistological analysis identified considerable leptin staining within the cytoplasm of adipocytes. Significant differences in fatty acid profiles between pregnant and non-pregnant animals were revealed, most notably a reduction in both linoleic and α linoleic acid in pregnant animals. This report forms the basis for future studies to address the effect of nutrient composition and body

  17. Predicting the Effects of Woody Encroachment on Mammal Communities, Grazing Biomass and Fire Frequency in African Savannas

    PubMed Central

    Smit, Izak P. J.; Prins, Herbert H. T.

    2015-01-01

    With grasslands and savannas covering 20% of the world’s land surface, accounting for 30–35% of worldwide Net Primary Productivity and supporting hundreds of millions of people, predicting changes in tree/grass systems is priority. Inappropriate land management and rising atmospheric CO2 levels result in increased woody cover in savannas. Although woody encroachment occurs world-wide, Africa’s tourism and livestock grazing industries may be particularly vulnerable. Forecasts of responses of African wildlife and available grazing biomass to increases in woody cover are thus urgently needed. These predictions are hard to make due to non-linear responses and poorly understood feedback mechanisms between woody cover and other ecological responders, problems further amplified by the lack of long-term and large-scale datasets. We propose that a space-for-time analysis along an existing woody cover gradient overcomes some of these forecasting problems. Here we show, using an existing woody cover gradient (0–65%) across the Kruger National Park, South Africa, that increased woody cover is associated with (i) changed herbivore assemblage composition, (ii) reduced grass biomass, and (iii) reduced fire frequency. Furthermore, although increased woody cover is associated with reduced livestock production, we found indigenous herbivore biomass (excluding elephants) remains unchanged between 20–65% woody cover. This is due to a significant reorganization in the herbivore assemblage composition, mostly as a result of meso-grazers being substituted by browsers at increasing woody cover. Our results suggest that woody encroachment will have cascading consequences for Africa’s grazing systems, fire regimes and iconic wildlife. These effects will pose challenges and require adaptation of livelihoods and industries dependent on conditions currently prevailing. PMID:26379249

  18. Predicting the Effects of Woody Encroachment on Mammal Communities, Grazing Biomass and Fire Frequency in African Savannas.

    PubMed

    Smit, Izak P J; Prins, Herbert H T

    2015-01-01

    With grasslands and savannas covering 20% of the world's land surface, accounting for 30-35% of worldwide Net Primary Productivity and supporting hundreds of millions of people, predicting changes in tree/grass systems is priority. Inappropriate land management and rising atmospheric CO2 levels result in increased woody cover in savannas. Although woody encroachment occurs world-wide, Africa's tourism and livestock grazing industries may be particularly vulnerable. Forecasts of responses of African wildlife and available grazing biomass to increases in woody cover are thus urgently needed. These predictions are hard to make due to non-linear responses and poorly understood feedback mechanisms between woody cover and other ecological responders, problems further amplified by the lack of long-term and large-scale datasets. We propose that a space-for-time analysis along an existing woody cover gradient overcomes some of these forecasting problems. Here we show, using an existing woody cover gradient (0-65%) across the Kruger National Park, South Africa, that increased woody cover is associated with (i) changed herbivore assemblage composition, (ii) reduced grass biomass, and (iii) reduced fire frequency. Furthermore, although increased woody cover is associated with reduced livestock production, we found indigenous herbivore biomass (excluding elephants) remains unchanged between 20-65% woody cover. This is due to a significant reorganization in the herbivore assemblage composition, mostly as a result of meso-grazers being substituted by browsers at increasing woody cover. Our results suggest that woody encroachment will have cascading consequences for Africa's grazing systems, fire regimes and iconic wildlife. These effects will pose challenges and require adaptation of livelihoods and industries dependent on conditions currently prevailing.

  19. Secretory pattern of inhibin during estrous cycle and pregnancy in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants.

    PubMed

    Yamamoto, Yuki; Yuto, Natsuki; Yamamoto, Tatsuya; Kaewmanee, Saroch; Shiina, Osamu; Mouri, Yasushi; Narushima, Etsuo; Katayanagi, Masayuki; Sugimura, Keisuke; Nagaoka, Kentaro; Watanabe, Gen; Taya, Kazuyoshi

    2012-01-01

    The ovary of female elephants has multiple corpora lutea (CL) during the estrous cycle and gestation. The previous reports clearly demonstrated that inhibin was secreted from lutein cells as well as granulosa cells of antral follicles in cyclic Asian elephants. The aim of this study is to investigate the inhibin secretion during the pregnancy in African and Asian elephants. Two African elephants and two Asian elephants were subjected to this study. Circulating levels of immunoreactive (ir-) inhibin and progesterone were measured by radioimmunoassay. Four pregnant periods of an African elephant and three pregnant periods of an Asian elephant were analyzed in this study. Circulating levels of ir-inhibin started to increase at 1 or 2 week before the ovulation and reached the peak level 3 or 4 weeks earlier than progesterone during the estrous cycle in both African and Asian elephants. After last luteal phase, the serum levels of ir-inhibin remained low throughout pregnancy in both an African and an Asian elephant. The mean levels of ir-inhibin during the pregnancy were lower than the luteal phase in the estrous cycle despite high progesterone levels were maintained throughout the pregnancy. These results strongly suggest that CL secrete a large amount of progesterone but not inhibin during the pregnancy in elephants.

  20. Genetic identification of five strongyle nematode parasites in wild african elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    McLean, E R; Kinsella, J M; Chiyo, P; Obanda, V; Moss, C; Archie, E A

    2012-07-01

    African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) are an ecologically and economically important species in many African habitats. However, despite the importance of elephants, research on their parasites is limited, especially in wild populations. Currently, we lack genetic tools to identify elephant parasites. We present genetic markers from ribosomal DNA (rDNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to identify five elephant-specific nematode parasites in the family Strongylidae: Murshidia linstowi, Murshidia longicaudata, Murshidia africana, Quilonia africana, and Khalilia sameera. We collected adult nematodes from feces deposited by wild elephants living in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Using both morphologic and genetic techniques, we found that the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region in rDNA provides a reliable marker to distinguish these species of strongyles. We found no evidence for cryptic genetic species within these morphologic species according to the cox-1 region of mtDNA. Levels of genetic diversity in strongyles from elephants were consistent with the genetic diversity seen within other strongyle species. We anticipate that these results will be a useful tool for identifying gastrointestinal nematode parasites in elephants.

  1. Skeletal development in the African elephant and ossification timing in placental mammals.

    PubMed

    Hautier, Lionel; Stansfield, Fiona J; Allen, W R Twink; Asher, Robert J

    2012-06-01

    We provide here unique data on elephant skeletal ontogeny. We focus on the sequence of cranial and post-cranial ossification events during growth in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Previous analyses on ossification sequences in mammals have focused on monotremes, marsupials, boreoeutherian and xenarthran placentals. Here, we add data on ossification sequences in an afrotherian. We use two different methods to quantify sequence heterochrony: the sequence method and event-paring/Parsimov. Compared with other placentals, elephants show late ossifications of the basicranium, manual and pedal phalanges, and early ossifications of the ischium and metacarpals. Moreover, ossification in elephants starts very early and progresses rapidly. Specifically, the elephant exhibits the same percentage of bones showing an ossification centre at the end of the first third of its gestation period as the mouse and hamster have close to birth. Elephants show a number of features of their ossification patterns that differ from those of other placental mammals. The pattern of the initiation of the ossification evident in the African elephant underscores a possible correlation between the timing of ossification onset and gestation time throughout mammals.

  2. Seasonal variation in the relative dominance of herbivore guilds in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Davies, Andrew B; van Rensburg, Berndt J; Robertson, Mark P; Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Parr, Catherine L

    2016-06-01

    African savannas are highly seasonal with a diverse array of both mammalian and invertebrate herbivores, yet herbivory studies have focused almost exclusively on mammals. We conducted a 2-yr exclosure experiment in South Africa's Kruger National Park to measure the relative impact of these two groups of herbivores on grass removal at both highly productive patches (termite mounds) and in the less productive savanna matrix. Invertebrate and mammalian herbivory was greater on termite mounds, but the relative importance of each group changed over time. Mammalian offtake was higher than invertebrates in the dry season, but can be eclipsed by invertebrates during the wet season when this group is more active. Our results demonstrate that invertebrates play a substantial role in savanna herbivory and should not be disregarded in attempts to understand the impacts of herbivory on ecosystems.

  3. Seasonal variation in the relative dominance of herbivore guilds in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Davies, Andrew B; van Rensburg, Berndt J; Robertson, Mark P; Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Parr, Catherine L

    2016-06-01

    African savannas are highly seasonal with a diverse array of both mammalian and invertebrate herbivores, yet herbivory studies have focused almost exclusively on mammals. We conducted a 2-yr exclosure experiment in South Africa's Kruger National Park to measure the relative impact of these two groups of herbivores on grass removal at both highly productive patches (termite mounds) and in the less productive savanna matrix. Invertebrate and mammalian herbivory was greater on termite mounds, but the relative importance of each group changed over time. Mammalian offtake was higher than invertebrates in the dry season, but can be eclipsed by invertebrates during the wet season when this group is more active. Our results demonstrate that invertebrates play a substantial role in savanna herbivory and should not be disregarded in attempts to understand the impacts of herbivory on ecosystems. PMID:27459791

  4. Prolactin secretion and ovarian function in cycling and non-cycling African female elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Yamamoto, Yuki; Yamamoto, Tatsuya; Watanabe, Gen; Yuto, Natsuki; Keio, Megumi; Narushima, Etsuo; Katayanagi, Masayuki; Nakao, Risa; Morikubo, Syu; Sakurai, Yuko; Kaneko, Mikako; Kaewmanee, Saroch; Taya, Kazuyoshi

    2010-07-01

    Reproduction of captive elephants in zoos has shown a low fecundity and requires improvement. One of the reasons for low fecundity is ovarian dysfunction in many female elephants. To investigate whether prolactin has a correlation with ovarian function in female elephants, the serum concentrations of prolactin, progesterone and estradiol-17beta in four African female elephants (one cycling female and three non-cycling female elephants) were measured. Cyclic patterns of prolactin and estradiol-17beta were observed in the cycling female elephant, which tended to be high during the follicular phase and low during the luteal phase. On the other hand, a cyclic pattern of prolactin was not observed in the non-cycling female elephants. One of the three non-cycling females (Mako) had developed breasts and showed significantly higher average levels of prolactin than the other female elephants. These results suggested that high concentrations of circulating estradiol-17beta during the follicular phase stimulated prolactin secretion. They also suggested that hyperprolactinemia in Mako was one of the causes of the developed mammary glands and ovarian dysfunction.

  5. Effects of fire on woody vegetation structure in African savanna.

    PubMed

    Smit, Izak P J; Asner, Gregory P; Govender, Navashni; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E; Jacobson, James

    2010-10-01

    Despite the importance of fire in shaping savannas, it remains poorly understood how the frequency, seasonality, and intensity of fire interact to influence woody vegetation structure, which is a key determinant of savanna biodiversity. We provide a comprehensive analysis of vertical and horizontal woody vegetation structure across one of the oldest savanna fire experiments, using new airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. We developed and compared high-resolution woody vegetation height surfaces for a series of large experimental burn plots in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. These 7-ha plots (total area approximately 1500 ha) have been subjected to fire in different seasons and at different frequencies, as well as no-burn areas, for 54 years. Long-term exposure to fire caused a reduction in woody vegetation up to the 5.0-7.5 m height class, although most reduction was observed up to 4 m. Average fire intensity was positively correlated with changes in woody vegetation structure. More frequent fires reduced woody vegetation cover more than less frequent fires, and dry-season fires reduced woody vegetation more than wet-season fires. Spring fires from the late dry season reduced woody vegetation cover the most, and summer fires from the wet season reduced it the least. Fire had a large effect on structure in the densely wooded granitic landscapes as compared to the more open basaltic landscapes, although proportionally, the woody vegetation was more reduced in the drier than in the wetter landscapes. We show that fire frequency and fire season influence patterns of vegetation three-dimensional structure, which may have cascading consequences for biodiversity. Managers of savannas can therefore use fire frequency and season in concert to achieve specific vegetation structural objectives.

  6. Effects of fire on woody vegetation structure in African savanna.

    PubMed

    Smit, Izak P J; Asner, Gregory P; Govender, Navashni; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E; Jacobson, James

    2010-10-01

    Despite the importance of fire in shaping savannas, it remains poorly understood how the frequency, seasonality, and intensity of fire interact to influence woody vegetation structure, which is a key determinant of savanna biodiversity. We provide a comprehensive analysis of vertical and horizontal woody vegetation structure across one of the oldest savanna fire experiments, using new airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. We developed and compared high-resolution woody vegetation height surfaces for a series of large experimental burn plots in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. These 7-ha plots (total area approximately 1500 ha) have been subjected to fire in different seasons and at different frequencies, as well as no-burn areas, for 54 years. Long-term exposure to fire caused a reduction in woody vegetation up to the 5.0-7.5 m height class, although most reduction was observed up to 4 m. Average fire intensity was positively correlated with changes in woody vegetation structure. More frequent fires reduced woody vegetation cover more than less frequent fires, and dry-season fires reduced woody vegetation more than wet-season fires. Spring fires from the late dry season reduced woody vegetation cover the most, and summer fires from the wet season reduced it the least. Fire had a large effect on structure in the densely wooded granitic landscapes as compared to the more open basaltic landscapes, although proportionally, the woody vegetation was more reduced in the drier than in the wetter landscapes. We show that fire frequency and fire season influence patterns of vegetation three-dimensional structure, which may have cascading consequences for biodiversity. Managers of savannas can therefore use fire frequency and season in concert to achieve specific vegetation structural objectives. PMID:21049875

  7. African Savanna-Forest Boundary Dynamics: A 20-Year Study.

    PubMed

    Cuni-Sanchez, Aida; White, Lee J T; Calders, Kim; Jeffery, Kathryn J; Abernethy, Katharine; Burt, Andrew; Disney, Mathias; Gilpin, Martin; Gomez-Dans, Jose L; Lewis, Simon L

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies show widespread encroachment of forest into savannas with important consequences for the global carbon cycle and land-atmosphere interactions. However, little research has focused on in situ measurements of the successional sequence of savanna to forest in Africa. Using long-term inventory plots we quantify changes in vegetation structure, above-ground biomass (AGB) and biodiversity of trees ≥10 cm diameter over 20 years for five vegetation types: savanna; colonising forest (F1), monodominant Okoume forest (F2); young Marantaceae forest (F3); and mixed Marantaceae forest (F4) in Lopé National Park, central Gabon, plus novel 3D terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) measurements to assess forest structure differences. Over 20 years no plot changed to a new stage in the putative succession, but F1 forests strongly moved towards the structure, AGB and diversity of F2 forests. Overall, savanna plots showed no detectable change in structure, AGB or diversity using this method, with zero trees ≥10 cm diameter in 1993 and 2013. F1 and F2 forests increased in AGB, mainly as a result of adding recruited stems (F1) and increased Basal Area (F2), whereas F3 and F4 forests did not change substantially in structure, AGB or diversity. Critically, the stability of the F3 stage implies that this stage may be maintained for long periods. Soil carbon was low, and did not show a successional gradient as for AGB and diversity. TLS vertical plant profiles showed distinctive differences amongst the vegetation types, indicating that this technique can improve ecological understanding. We highlight two points: (i) as forest colonises, changes in biodiversity are much slower than changes in forest structure or AGB; and (ii) all forest types store substantial quantities of carbon. Multi-decadal monitoring is likely to be required to assess the speed of transition between vegetation types. PMID:27336632

  8. African Savanna-Forest Boundary Dynamics: A 20-Year Study

    PubMed Central

    Cuni-Sanchez, Aida; White, Lee J. T.; Calders, Kim; Jeffery, Kathryn J.; Abernethy, Katharine; Burt, Andrew; Disney, Mathias; Gilpin, Martin; Gomez-Dans, Jose L.; Lewis, Simon L.

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies show widespread encroachment of forest into savannas with important consequences for the global carbon cycle and land-atmosphere interactions. However, little research has focused on in situ measurements of the successional sequence of savanna to forest in Africa. Using long-term inventory plots we quantify changes in vegetation structure, above-ground biomass (AGB) and biodiversity of trees ≥10 cm diameter over 20 years for five vegetation types: savanna; colonising forest (F1), monodominant Okoume forest (F2); young Marantaceae forest (F3); and mixed Marantaceae forest (F4) in Lopé National Park, central Gabon, plus novel 3D terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) measurements to assess forest structure differences. Over 20 years no plot changed to a new stage in the putative succession, but F1 forests strongly moved towards the structure, AGB and diversity of F2 forests. Overall, savanna plots showed no detectable change in structure, AGB or diversity using this method, with zero trees ≥10 cm diameter in 1993 and 2013. F1 and F2 forests increased in AGB, mainly as a result of adding recruited stems (F1) and increased Basal Area (F2), whereas F3 and F4 forests did not change substantially in structure, AGB or diversity. Critically, the stability of the F3 stage implies that this stage may be maintained for long periods. Soil carbon was low, and did not show a successional gradient as for AGB and diversity. TLS vertical plant profiles showed distinctive differences amongst the vegetation types, indicating that this technique can improve ecological understanding. We highlight two points: (i) as forest colonises, changes in biodiversity are much slower than changes in forest structure or AGB; and (ii) all forest types store substantial quantities of carbon. Multi-decadal monitoring is likely to be required to assess the speed of transition between vegetation types. PMID:27336632

  9. African Savanna-Forest Boundary Dynamics: A 20-Year Study.

    PubMed

    Cuni-Sanchez, Aida; White, Lee J T; Calders, Kim; Jeffery, Kathryn J; Abernethy, Katharine; Burt, Andrew; Disney, Mathias; Gilpin, Martin; Gomez-Dans, Jose L; Lewis, Simon L

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies show widespread encroachment of forest into savannas with important consequences for the global carbon cycle and land-atmosphere interactions. However, little research has focused on in situ measurements of the successional sequence of savanna to forest in Africa. Using long-term inventory plots we quantify changes in vegetation structure, above-ground biomass (AGB) and biodiversity of trees ≥10 cm diameter over 20 years for five vegetation types: savanna; colonising forest (F1), monodominant Okoume forest (F2); young Marantaceae forest (F3); and mixed Marantaceae forest (F4) in Lopé National Park, central Gabon, plus novel 3D terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) measurements to assess forest structure differences. Over 20 years no plot changed to a new stage in the putative succession, but F1 forests strongly moved towards the structure, AGB and diversity of F2 forests. Overall, savanna plots showed no detectable change in structure, AGB or diversity using this method, with zero trees ≥10 cm diameter in 1993 and 2013. F1 and F2 forests increased in AGB, mainly as a result of adding recruited stems (F1) and increased Basal Area (F2), whereas F3 and F4 forests did not change substantially in structure, AGB or diversity. Critically, the stability of the F3 stage implies that this stage may be maintained for long periods. Soil carbon was low, and did not show a successional gradient as for AGB and diversity. TLS vertical plant profiles showed distinctive differences amongst the vegetation types, indicating that this technique can improve ecological understanding. We highlight two points: (i) as forest colonises, changes in biodiversity are much slower than changes in forest structure or AGB; and (ii) all forest types store substantial quantities of carbon. Multi-decadal monitoring is likely to be required to assess the speed of transition between vegetation types.

  10. Plant-soil feedback in East-African savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Rutten, Gemma; Prati, Daniel; Hemp, Andreas; Fischer, Markus

    2016-02-01

    Research in savannas has focused on tree-grass interactions, whereas tree species coexistence received little attention. A leading hypothesis to explain tree coexistence is the Janzen-Connell model, which proposes an accumulation of host-specific enemies, e.g., soil organisms. While it has been shown in several non-savanna case studies that seedlings dispersed away from the mother perform better than seedlings that stay close (home-away effect), few studies tested whether foreign seedling species can replace own seedlings under conspecific adults (replacement effect). Some studies additionally tested for negative effects of conspecific biota (conspecific effect) to demonstrate the accumulation of enemies. We tested these effects by reciprocally growing seedlings of four tree species on soil collected beneath adults of all species, with and without applying a soil sterilization treatment. We found negative home-away effects suggesting that dispersal is advantageous and negative replacement effects suggesting species replacement under adults. While negative conspecific effects indicate accumulated enemies, positive heterospecific effects indicate an accumulation of mutualists rather than enemies for some species. We suggest that plant-soil feedbacks may well contribute to tree coexistence in savannas due to both negative conspecific and positive heterospecific feedbacks. PMID:27145605

  11. Plant-soil feedback in East-African savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Rutten, Gemma; Prati, Daniel; Hemp, Andreas; Fischer, Markus

    2016-02-01

    Research in savannas has focused on tree-grass interactions, whereas tree species coexistence received little attention. A leading hypothesis to explain tree coexistence is the Janzen-Connell model, which proposes an accumulation of host-specific enemies, e.g., soil organisms. While it has been shown in several non-savanna case studies that seedlings dispersed away from the mother perform better than seedlings that stay close (home-away effect), few studies tested whether foreign seedling species can replace own seedlings under conspecific adults (replacement effect). Some studies additionally tested for negative effects of conspecific biota (conspecific effect) to demonstrate the accumulation of enemies. We tested these effects by reciprocally growing seedlings of four tree species on soil collected beneath adults of all species, with and without applying a soil sterilization treatment. We found negative home-away effects suggesting that dispersal is advantageous and negative replacement effects suggesting species replacement under adults. While negative conspecific effects indicate accumulated enemies, positive heterospecific effects indicate an accumulation of mutualists rather than enemies for some species. We suggest that plant-soil feedbacks may well contribute to tree coexistence in savannas due to both negative conspecific and positive heterospecific feedbacks.

  12. Western equatorial African forest-savanna mosaics: a legacy of late Holocene climatic change?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ngomanda, A.; Chepstow-Lusty, A.; Makaya, M.; Favier, C.; Schevin, P.; Maley, J.; Fontugne, M.; Oslisly, R.; Jolly, D.

    2009-10-01

    Past vegetation and climate changes reconstructed using two pollen records from Lakes Maridor and Nguène, located in the coastal savannas and inland rainforest of Gabon, respectively, provide new insights into the environmental history of western equatorial African rainforests during the last 4500 cal yr BP. These pollen records indicate that the coastal savannas of western equatorial Africa did not exist during the mid-Holocene and instead the region was covered by evergreen rainforests. From ca. 4000 cal yr BP a progressive decline of inland evergreen rainforest, accompanied by the expansion of semi-deciduous rainforest, occurred synchronously with grassland colonisation in the coastal region of Gabon. The contraction of moist evergreen rainforest and the establishment of coastal savannas in Gabon suggest decreasing humidity from ca. 4000 cal yr BP. The marked reduction in evergreen rainforest and subsequent savanna expansion was followed from 2700 cal yr BP by the colonization of secondary forests dominated by the palm, Elaeis guineensis, and the shrub, Alchornea cordifolia (Euphorbiaceae). A return to wetter climatic conditions from about 1400 cal yr BP led to the renewed spread of evergreen rainforest inland, whereas a forest-savanna mosaic still persists in the coastal region. There is no evidence to suggest that the major environmental changes observed were driven by human impact.

  13. Organization and chemical neuroanatomy of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) hippocampus.

    PubMed

    Patzke, Nina; Olaleye, Olatunbosun; Haagensen, Mark; Hof, Patrick R; Ihunwo, Amadi O; Manger, Paul R

    2014-09-01

    Elephants are thought to possess excellent long-term spatial-temporal and social memory, both memory types being at least in part hippocampus dependent. Although the hippocampus has been extensively studied in common laboratory mammalian species and humans, much less is known about comparative hippocampal neuroanatomy, and specifically that of the elephant. Moreover, the data available regarding hippocampal size of the elephant are inconsistent. The aim of the current study was to re-examine hippocampal size and provide a detailed neuroanatomical description of the hippocampus in the African elephant. In order to examine the hippocampal size the perfusion-fixed brains of three wild-caught adult male African elephants, aged 20-30 years, underwent MRI scanning. For the neuroanatomical description brain sections containing the hippocampus were stained for Nissl, myelin, calbindin, calretinin, parvalbumin and doublecortin. This study demonstrates that the elephant hippocampus is not unduly enlarged, nor specifically unusual in its internal morphology. The elephant hippocampus has a volume of 10.84 ± 0.33 cm³ and is slightly larger than the human hippocampus (10.23 cm(3)). Histological analysis revealed the typical trilaminated architecture of the dentate gyrus (DG) and the cornu ammonis (CA), although the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus appears to have supernumerary sublaminae compared to other mammals. The three main architectonic fields of the cornu ammonis (CA1, CA2, and CA3) could be clearly distinguished. Doublecortin immunostaining revealed the presence of adult neurogenesis in the elephant hippocampus. Thus, the elephant exhibits, for the most part, what might be considered a typically mammalian hippocampus in terms of both size and architecture.

  14. The Days and Nights of Zoo Elephants: Using Epidemiology to Better Understand Stereotypic Behavior of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) and Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) in North American Zoos

    PubMed Central

    Greco, Brian J.; Meehan, Cheryl L.; Hogan, Jen N.; Leighty, Katherine A.; Mellen, Jill; Mason, Georgia J.; Mench, Joy A.

    2016-01-01

    Stereotypic behavior is an important indicator of compromised welfare. Zoo elephants are documented to perform stereotypic behavior, but the factors that contribute to performance have not been systematically assessed. We collected behavioral data on 89 elephants (47 African [Loxodonta africana], 42 Asian [Elephas maximus]) at 39 North American zoos during the summer and winter. Elephants were videoed for a median of 12 daytime hours per season. A subset of 32 elephants (19 African, 13 Asian) was also observed live for a median of 10.5 nighttime hours. Percentages of visible behavior scans were calculated from five minute instantaneous samples. Stereotypic behavior was the second most commonly performed behavior (after feeding), making up 15.5% of observations during the daytime and 24.8% at nighttime. Negative binomial regression models fitted with generalized estimating equations were used to determine which social, housing, management, life history, and demographic variables were associated with daytime and nighttime stereotypic behavior rates. Species was a significant risk factor in both models, with Asian elephants at greater risk (daytime: p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 4.087; nighttime: p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 8.015). For both species, spending time housed separately (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 1.009), and having experienced inter-zoo transfers (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 1.175), increased the risk of performing higher rates of stereotypy during the day, while spending more time with juvenile elephants (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 0.985), and engaging with zoo staff reduced this risk (p = 0.018, Risk Ratio = 0.988). At night, spending more time in environments with both indoor and outdoor areas (p = 0.013, Risk Ratio = 0.987) and in larger social groups (p = 0.039, Risk Ratio = 0.752) corresponded with reduced risk of performing higher rates of stereotypy, while having experienced inter-zoo transfers (p = 0.033, Risk Ratio = 1.115) increased this risk. Overall, our results indicate

  15. The Days and Nights of Zoo Elephants: Using Epidemiology to Better Understand Stereotypic Behavior of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) and Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Greco, Brian J; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jen N; Leighty, Katherine A; Mellen, Jill; Mason, Georgia J; Mench, Joy A

    2016-01-01

    Stereotypic behavior is an important indicator of compromised welfare. Zoo elephants are documented to perform stereotypic behavior, but the factors that contribute to performance have not been systematically assessed. We collected behavioral data on 89 elephants (47 African [Loxodonta africana], 42 Asian [Elephas maximus]) at 39 North American zoos during the summer and winter. Elephants were videoed for a median of 12 daytime hours per season. A subset of 32 elephants (19 African, 13 Asian) was also observed live for a median of 10.5 nighttime hours. Percentages of visible behavior scans were calculated from five minute instantaneous samples. Stereotypic behavior was the second most commonly performed behavior (after feeding), making up 15.5% of observations during the daytime and 24.8% at nighttime. Negative binomial regression models fitted with generalized estimating equations were used to determine which social, housing, management, life history, and demographic variables were associated with daytime and nighttime stereotypic behavior rates. Species was a significant risk factor in both models, with Asian elephants at greater risk (daytime: p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 4.087; nighttime: p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 8.015). For both species, spending time housed separately (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 1.009), and having experienced inter-zoo transfers (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 1.175), increased the risk of performing higher rates of stereotypy during the day, while spending more time with juvenile elephants (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 0.985), and engaging with zoo staff reduced this risk (p = 0.018, Risk Ratio = 0.988). At night, spending more time in environments with both indoor and outdoor areas (p = 0.013, Risk Ratio = 0.987) and in larger social groups (p = 0.039, Risk Ratio = 0.752) corresponded with reduced risk of performing higher rates of stereotypy, while having experienced inter-zoo transfers (p = 0.033, Risk Ratio = 1.115) increased this risk. Overall, our results indicate

  16. The Days and Nights of Zoo Elephants: Using Epidemiology to Better Understand Stereotypic Behavior of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) and Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Greco, Brian J; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jen N; Leighty, Katherine A; Mellen, Jill; Mason, Georgia J; Mench, Joy A

    2016-01-01

    Stereotypic behavior is an important indicator of compromised welfare. Zoo elephants are documented to perform stereotypic behavior, but the factors that contribute to performance have not been systematically assessed. We collected behavioral data on 89 elephants (47 African [Loxodonta africana], 42 Asian [Elephas maximus]) at 39 North American zoos during the summer and winter. Elephants were videoed for a median of 12 daytime hours per season. A subset of 32 elephants (19 African, 13 Asian) was also observed live for a median of 10.5 nighttime hours. Percentages of visible behavior scans were calculated from five minute instantaneous samples. Stereotypic behavior was the second most commonly performed behavior (after feeding), making up 15.5% of observations during the daytime and 24.8% at nighttime. Negative binomial regression models fitted with generalized estimating equations were used to determine which social, housing, management, life history, and demographic variables were associated with daytime and nighttime stereotypic behavior rates. Species was a significant risk factor in both models, with Asian elephants at greater risk (daytime: p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 4.087; nighttime: p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 8.015). For both species, spending time housed separately (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 1.009), and having experienced inter-zoo transfers (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 1.175), increased the risk of performing higher rates of stereotypy during the day, while spending more time with juvenile elephants (p<0.001, Risk Ratio = 0.985), and engaging with zoo staff reduced this risk (p = 0.018, Risk Ratio = 0.988). At night, spending more time in environments with both indoor and outdoor areas (p = 0.013, Risk Ratio = 0.987) and in larger social groups (p = 0.039, Risk Ratio = 0.752) corresponded with reduced risk of performing higher rates of stereotypy, while having experienced inter-zoo transfers (p = 0.033, Risk Ratio = 1.115) increased this risk. Overall, our results indicate

  17. Fine-Scale Genetic Structure and Cryptic Associations Reveal Evidence of Kin-Based Sociality in the African Forest Elephant

    PubMed Central

    Schuttler, Stephanie G.; Philbrick, Jessica A.; Jeffery, Kathryn J.; Eggert, Lori S.

    2014-01-01

    Spatial patterns of relatedness within animal populations are important in the evolution of mating and social systems, and have the potential to reveal information on species that are difficult to observe in the wild. This study examines the fine-scale genetic structure and connectivity of groups within African forest elephants, Loxodonta cyclotis, which are often difficult to observe due to forest habitat. We tested the hypothesis that genetic similarity will decline with increasing geographic distance, as we expect kin to be in closer proximity, using spatial autocorrelation analyses and Tau Kr tests. Associations between individuals were investigated through a non-invasive genetic capture-recapture approach using network models, and were predicted to be more extensive than the small groups found in observational studies, similar to fission-fusion sociality found in African savanna (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) species. Dung samples were collected in Lopé National Park, Gabon in 2008 and 2010 and genotyped at 10 microsatellite loci, genetically sexed, and sequenced at the mitochondrial DNA control region. We conducted analyses on samples collected at three different temporal scales: a day, within six-day sampling sessions, and within each year. Spatial autocorrelation and Tau Kr tests revealed genetic structure, but results were weak and inconsistent between sampling sessions. Positive spatial autocorrelation was found in distance classes of 0–5 km, and was strongest for the single day session. Despite weak genetic structure, individuals within groups were significantly more related to each other than to individuals between groups. Social networks revealed some components to have large, extensive groups of up to 22 individuals, and most groups were composed of individuals of the same matriline. Although fine-scale population genetic structure was weak, forest elephants are typically found in groups consisting of kin and based on matrilines

  18. Fine-scale genetic structure and cryptic associations reveal evidence of kin-based sociality in the African forest elephant.

    PubMed

    Schuttler, Stephanie G; Philbrick, Jessica A; Jeffery, Kathryn J; Eggert, Lori S

    2014-01-01

    Spatial patterns of relatedness within animal populations are important in the evolution of mating and social systems, and have the potential to reveal information on species that are difficult to observe in the wild. This study examines the fine-scale genetic structure and connectivity of groups within African forest elephants, Loxodonta cyclotis, which are often difficult to observe due to forest habitat. We tested the hypothesis that genetic similarity will decline with increasing geographic distance, as we expect kin to be in closer proximity, using spatial autocorrelation analyses and Tau K(r) tests. Associations between individuals were investigated through a non-invasive genetic capture-recapture approach using network models, and were predicted to be more extensive than the small groups found in observational studies, similar to fission-fusion sociality found in African savanna (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) species. Dung samples were collected in Lopé National Park, Gabon in 2008 and 2010 and genotyped at 10 microsatellite loci, genetically sexed, and sequenced at the mitochondrial DNA control region. We conducted analyses on samples collected at three different temporal scales: a day, within six-day sampling sessions, and within each year. Spatial autocorrelation and Tau K(r) tests revealed genetic structure, but results were weak and inconsistent between sampling sessions. Positive spatial autocorrelation was found in distance classes of 0-5 km, and was strongest for the single day session. Despite weak genetic structure, individuals within groups were significantly more related to each other than to individuals between groups. Social networks revealed some components to have large, extensive groups of up to 22 individuals, and most groups were composed of individuals of the same matriline. Although fine-scale population genetic structure was weak, forest elephants are typically found in groups consisting of kin and based on matrilines

  19. Assessment of Flooring Renovations on African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Behavior and Glucocorticoid Response.

    PubMed

    Boyle, Sarah A; Roberts, Beth; Pope, Brittany M; Blake, Margaret R; Leavelle, Stephen E; Marshall, Jennifer J; Smith, Andrew; Hadicke, Amanda; Falcone, Josephine F; Knott, Katrina; Kouba, Andrew J

    2015-01-01

    Captive African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants can experience foot pathologies and arthritis. As a preventative measure against these pathologies and to alleviate the potential discomfort due to concrete substrates, some zoological institutions have renovated elephant housing to increase the amount of natural or shock-absorbent substrates. The objective of this study was to compare behavioral (diurnal and nocturnal) and glucorticoid (e.g., serum cortisol) responses of three female African elephants before, during, and after renovation to their indoor housing floor to assess whether renovations had short-term effects on the elephants' behavior and stress physiology. Behavioral data were collected using scan-sampling methods, and activity budgets were constructed for each of the three elephants. In addition, the duration of all lying rest activities were recorded. Weekly serum cortisol concentrations were determined with enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Overall, eating was the most prevalent behavior exhibited outdoors during the day, while resting (either in a lying or standing position) were most common during the indoor, nocturnal periods. Although variation existed among the three elephants, all three females spent significantly more time walking and less time eating during the day after the completion of the renovations. The extent to which the three elephants exhibited nocturnal lying rest behavior varied among the elephants, with the oldest elephant exhibiting the least amount (an average of 13.2 ± 2.8% of the nightly behavioral scans) compared to the two younger elephants (an average of 34.5 ± 2.1% and 56.6 ± 2.8% of the nightly behavioral scans). There was a significant increase in lying rest behavior for one elephant and standing rest for a second elephant following renovations. Baseline cortisol concentrations prior to renovations were 3.0 ± 0.4 ng/ml, 4.5 ± 0.5 ng/ml, and 4.9 ± 0.5 ng/ml for the three elephants. Cortisol

  20. Assessment of Flooring Renovations on African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Behavior and Glucocorticoid Response.

    PubMed

    Boyle, Sarah A; Roberts, Beth; Pope, Brittany M; Blake, Margaret R; Leavelle, Stephen E; Marshall, Jennifer J; Smith, Andrew; Hadicke, Amanda; Falcone, Josephine F; Knott, Katrina; Kouba, Andrew J

    2015-01-01

    Captive African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants can experience foot pathologies and arthritis. As a preventative measure against these pathologies and to alleviate the potential discomfort due to concrete substrates, some zoological institutions have renovated elephant housing to increase the amount of natural or shock-absorbent substrates. The objective of this study was to compare behavioral (diurnal and nocturnal) and glucorticoid (e.g., serum cortisol) responses of three female African elephants before, during, and after renovation to their indoor housing floor to assess whether renovations had short-term effects on the elephants' behavior and stress physiology. Behavioral data were collected using scan-sampling methods, and activity budgets were constructed for each of the three elephants. In addition, the duration of all lying rest activities were recorded. Weekly serum cortisol concentrations were determined with enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Overall, eating was the most prevalent behavior exhibited outdoors during the day, while resting (either in a lying or standing position) were most common during the indoor, nocturnal periods. Although variation existed among the three elephants, all three females spent significantly more time walking and less time eating during the day after the completion of the renovations. The extent to which the three elephants exhibited nocturnal lying rest behavior varied among the elephants, with the oldest elephant exhibiting the least amount (an average of 13.2 ± 2.8% of the nightly behavioral scans) compared to the two younger elephants (an average of 34.5 ± 2.1% and 56.6 ± 2.8% of the nightly behavioral scans). There was a significant increase in lying rest behavior for one elephant and standing rest for a second elephant following renovations. Baseline cortisol concentrations prior to renovations were 3.0 ± 0.4 ng/ml, 4.5 ± 0.5 ng/ml, and 4.9 ± 0.5 ng/ml for the three elephants. Cortisol

  1. Reproductive Health Assessment of Female Elephants in North American Zoos and Association of Husbandry Practices with Reproductive Dysfunction in African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    Meehan, Cheryl L.; Hogan, Jennifer N.; Morfeld, Kari A.; Carlstead, Kathy

    2016-01-01

    As part of a multi-institutional study of zoo elephant welfare, we evaluated female elephants managed by zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and applied epidemiological methods to determine what factors in the zoo environment are associated with reproductive problems, including ovarian acyclicity and hyperprolactinemia. Bi-weekly blood samples were collected from 95 African (Loxodonta africana) and 75 Asian (Elephas maximus) (8–55 years of age) elephants over a 12-month period for analysis of serum progestogens and prolactin. Females were categorized as normal cycling (regular 13- to 17-week cycles), irregular cycling (cycles longer or shorter than normal) or acyclic (baseline progestogens, <0.1 ng/ml throughout), and having Low/Normal (<14 or 18 ng/ml) or High (≥14 or 18 ng/ml) prolactin for Asian and African elephants, respectively. Rates of normal cycling, acyclicity and irregular cycling were 73.2, 22.5 and 4.2% for Asian, and 48.4, 37.9 and 13.7% for African elephants, respectively, all of which differed between species (P < 0.05). For African elephants, univariate assessment found that social isolation decreased and higher enrichment diversity increased the chance a female would cycle normally. The strongest multi-variable models included Age (positive) and Enrichment Diversity (negative) as important factors of acyclicity among African elephants. The Asian elephant data set was not robust enough to support multi-variable analyses of cyclicity status. Additionally, only 3% of Asian elephants were found to be hyperprolactinemic as compared to 28% of Africans, so predictive analyses of prolactin status were conducted on African elephants only. The strongest multi-variable model included Age (positive), Enrichment Diversity (negative), Alternate Feeding Methods (negative) and Social Group Contact (positive) as predictors of hyperprolactinemia. In summary, the incidence of ovarian cycle problems and hyperprolactinemia predominantly

  2. Reproductive Health Assessment of Female Elephants in North American Zoos and Association of Husbandry Practices with Reproductive Dysfunction in African Elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Brown, Janine L; Paris, Stephen; Prado-Oviedo, Natalia A; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Morfeld, Kari A; Carlstead, Kathy

    2016-01-01

    As part of a multi-institutional study of zoo elephant welfare, we evaluated female elephants managed by zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and applied epidemiological methods to determine what factors in the zoo environment are associated with reproductive problems, including ovarian acyclicity and hyperprolactinemia. Bi-weekly blood samples were collected from 95 African (Loxodonta africana) and 75 Asian (Elephas maximus) (8-55 years of age) elephants over a 12-month period for analysis of serum progestogens and prolactin. Females were categorized as normal cycling (regular 13- to 17-week cycles), irregular cycling (cycles longer or shorter than normal) or acyclic (baseline progestogens, <0.1 ng/ml throughout), and having Low/Normal (<14 or 18 ng/ml) or High (≥14 or 18 ng/ml) prolactin for Asian and African elephants, respectively. Rates of normal cycling, acyclicity and irregular cycling were 73.2, 22.5 and 4.2% for Asian, and 48.4, 37.9 and 13.7% for African elephants, respectively, all of which differed between species (P < 0.05). For African elephants, univariate assessment found that social isolation decreased and higher enrichment diversity increased the chance a female would cycle normally. The strongest multi-variable models included Age (positive) and Enrichment Diversity (negative) as important factors of acyclicity among African elephants. The Asian elephant data set was not robust enough to support multi-variable analyses of cyclicity status. Additionally, only 3% of Asian elephants were found to be hyperprolactinemic as compared to 28% of Africans, so predictive analyses of prolactin status were conducted on African elephants only. The strongest multi-variable model included Age (positive), Enrichment Diversity (negative), Alternate Feeding Methods (negative) and Social Group Contact (positive) as predictors of hyperprolactinemia. In summary, the incidence of ovarian cycle problems and hyperprolactinemia predominantly affects

  3. Reproductive Health Assessment of Female Elephants in North American Zoos and Association of Husbandry Practices with Reproductive Dysfunction in African Elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Brown, Janine L; Paris, Stephen; Prado-Oviedo, Natalia A; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Morfeld, Kari A; Carlstead, Kathy

    2016-01-01

    As part of a multi-institutional study of zoo elephant welfare, we evaluated female elephants managed by zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and applied epidemiological methods to determine what factors in the zoo environment are associated with reproductive problems, including ovarian acyclicity and hyperprolactinemia. Bi-weekly blood samples were collected from 95 African (Loxodonta africana) and 75 Asian (Elephas maximus) (8-55 years of age) elephants over a 12-month period for analysis of serum progestogens and prolactin. Females were categorized as normal cycling (regular 13- to 17-week cycles), irregular cycling (cycles longer or shorter than normal) or acyclic (baseline progestogens, <0.1 ng/ml throughout), and having Low/Normal (<14 or 18 ng/ml) or High (≥14 or 18 ng/ml) prolactin for Asian and African elephants, respectively. Rates of normal cycling, acyclicity and irregular cycling were 73.2, 22.5 and 4.2% for Asian, and 48.4, 37.9 and 13.7% for African elephants, respectively, all of which differed between species (P < 0.05). For African elephants, univariate assessment found that social isolation decreased and higher enrichment diversity increased the chance a female would cycle normally. The strongest multi-variable models included Age (positive) and Enrichment Diversity (negative) as important factors of acyclicity among African elephants. The Asian elephant data set was not robust enough to support multi-variable analyses of cyclicity status. Additionally, only 3% of Asian elephants were found to be hyperprolactinemic as compared to 28% of Africans, so predictive analyses of prolactin status were conducted on African elephants only. The strongest multi-variable model included Age (positive), Enrichment Diversity (negative), Alternate Feeding Methods (negative) and Social Group Contact (positive) as predictors of hyperprolactinemia. In summary, the incidence of ovarian cycle problems and hyperprolactinemia predominantly affects

  4. Myth, marula, and elephant: an assessment of voluntary ethanol intoxication of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) following feeding on the fruit of the marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea).

    PubMed

    Morris, Steve; Humphreys, David; Reynolds, Dan

    2006-01-01

    Africa can stir wild and fanciful notions in the casual visitor; one of these is the tale of inebriated wild elephants. The suggestion that the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) becomes intoxicated from eating the fruit of the marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) is an attractive, established, and persistent tale. This idea now permeates the African tourist industry, historical travelogues, the popular press, and even scholastic works. Accounts of ethanol inebriation in animals under natural conditions appear mired in folklore. Elephants are attracted to alcohol, but there is no clear evidence of inebriation in the field. Extrapolating from human physiology, a 3,000-kg elephant would require the ingestion of between 10 and 27 L of 7% ethanol in a short period to overtly affect behavior, which is unlikely in the wild. Interpolating from ecological circumstances and assuming rather unrealistically that marula fruit contain 3% ethanol, an elephant feeding normally might attain an ethanol dose of 0.3 g kg(-1), about half that required. Physiological issues to resolve include alcohol dehydrogenase activity and ethanol clearance rates in elephants, as well as values for marula fruit alcohol content. These models were highly biased in favor of inebriation but even so failed to show that elephants can ordinarily become drunk. Such tales, it seems, may result from "humanizing" elephant behavior. PMID:16555195

  5. Myth, marula, and elephant: an assessment of voluntary ethanol intoxication of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) following feeding on the fruit of the marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea).

    PubMed

    Morris, Steve; Humphreys, David; Reynolds, Dan

    2006-01-01

    Africa can stir wild and fanciful notions in the casual visitor; one of these is the tale of inebriated wild elephants. The suggestion that the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) becomes intoxicated from eating the fruit of the marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) is an attractive, established, and persistent tale. This idea now permeates the African tourist industry, historical travelogues, the popular press, and even scholastic works. Accounts of ethanol inebriation in animals under natural conditions appear mired in folklore. Elephants are attracted to alcohol, but there is no clear evidence of inebriation in the field. Extrapolating from human physiology, a 3,000-kg elephant would require the ingestion of between 10 and 27 L of 7% ethanol in a short period to overtly affect behavior, which is unlikely in the wild. Interpolating from ecological circumstances and assuming rather unrealistically that marula fruit contain 3% ethanol, an elephant feeding normally might attain an ethanol dose of 0.3 g kg(-1), about half that required. Physiological issues to resolve include alcohol dehydrogenase activity and ethanol clearance rates in elephants, as well as values for marula fruit alcohol content. These models were highly biased in favor of inebriation but even so failed to show that elephants can ordinarily become drunk. Such tales, it seems, may result from "humanizing" elephant behavior.

  6. African elephants show high levels of interest in the skulls and ivory of their own species

    PubMed Central

    McComb, Karen; Baker, Lucy; Moss, Cynthia

    2005-01-01

    An important area of biology involves investigating the origins in animals of traits that are thought of as uniquely human. One way that humans appear unique is in the importance they attach to the dead bodies of other humans, particularly those of their close kin, and the rituals that they have developed for burying them. In contrast, most animals appear to show only limited interest in the carcasses or associated remains of dead individuals of their own species. African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are unusual in that they not only give dramatic reactions to the dead bodies of other elephants, but are also reported to systematically investigate elephant bones and tusks that they encounter, and it has sometimes been suggested that they visit the bones of relatives. Here, we use systematic presentations of object arrays to demonstrate that African elephants show higher levels of interest in elephant skulls and ivory than in natural objects or the skulls of other large terrestrial mammals. However, they do not appear to specifically select the skulls of their own relatives for investigation so that visits to dead relatives probably result from a more general attraction to elephant remains. PMID:17148317

  7. Laparoscopic vasectomy in African savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana); surgical technique and results.

    PubMed

    Marais, Hendrik J; Hendrickson, Dean A; Stetter, Mark; Zuba, Jeffery R; Penning, Mark; Siegal-Willott, Jess; Hardy, Christine

    2013-12-01

    Several small, enclosed reserves in southern Africa are experiencing significant elephant population growth, which has resulted in associated environmental damage and changes in biodiversity. Although several techniques exist to control elephant populations, e.g., culling, relocation, and immunocontraception, the technique of laparoscopic vasectomy of free-ranging bull elephants was investigated. Bilateral vasectomies were performed in 45 elephants. Of these elephants, one died within 24 hr of recovery and two had complications during surgery but recovered uneventfully. Histologic examination confirmed the resected tissue as ductus deferens in all the bulls. Most animals recovered uneventfully and showed no abnormal behavior after surgery. Complications recorded included incisional dehiscence, 1 full-thickness and 2 partial-thickness lacerations of the large intestine, and initial sling-associated complications, for example, deep radial nerve paresis. One bull was found dead 6 weeks after surgery without showing any prior abnormal signs. Vasectomy in free-ranging African bull elephants may be effectively performed in their normal environment. The surgical procedure can be used as a realistic population management tool in free-ranging elephants without major anesthetic, surgical, or postoperative complications.

  8. Laparoscopic vasectomy in African savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana); surgical technique and results.

    PubMed

    Marais, Hendrik J; Hendrickson, Dean A; Stetter, Mark; Zuba, Jeffery R; Penning, Mark; Siegal-Willott, Jess; Hardy, Christine

    2013-12-01

    Several small, enclosed reserves in southern Africa are experiencing significant elephant population growth, which has resulted in associated environmental damage and changes in biodiversity. Although several techniques exist to control elephant populations, e.g., culling, relocation, and immunocontraception, the technique of laparoscopic vasectomy of free-ranging bull elephants was investigated. Bilateral vasectomies were performed in 45 elephants. Of these elephants, one died within 24 hr of recovery and two had complications during surgery but recovered uneventfully. Histologic examination confirmed the resected tissue as ductus deferens in all the bulls. Most animals recovered uneventfully and showed no abnormal behavior after surgery. Complications recorded included incisional dehiscence, 1 full-thickness and 2 partial-thickness lacerations of the large intestine, and initial sling-associated complications, for example, deep radial nerve paresis. One bull was found dead 6 weeks after surgery without showing any prior abnormal signs. Vasectomy in free-ranging African bull elephants may be effectively performed in their normal environment. The surgical procedure can be used as a realistic population management tool in free-ranging elephants without major anesthetic, surgical, or postoperative complications. PMID:24437080

  9. Investigating the impact of rank and ovarian activity on the social behavior of captive female African elephants.

    PubMed

    Freeman, Elizabeth W; Schulte, Bruce A; Brown, Janine L

    2010-01-01

    Over a third of captive female African elephants in North America fail to exhibit normal estrous cycles based on long-term serum progestagen analyses. Why acyclicity occurs is unknown; however, the majority of noncycling females are ranked by keepers as the dominant individual within the group. To investigate the relationship between ovarian cyclicity status and keeper-determined social rank, observations were conducted on 33 female African elephants (18 cycling, 15 noncycling). Based on keeper evaluations, five cycling elephants were ranked dominant, seven in the middle and six as subordinate. In contrast, 10 noncycling elephants were ranked as dominate and five as subordinate with none ranked as middle. When comparing the behavior of the elephants by their keeper-determined rank, the dominant females dominant were significantly more likely to approach, displace and push. Similarly, keeper-determined subordinate females more frequently presented their hind end and held their ears erect. Behaviors initiated by one elephant toward another did not vary between cycling and noncycling females, except when the interaction with social rank was tested. Dominant, noncycling females initiated a higher percentage of "approach" and "displace" behaviors than both cycling and noncycling, subordinate elephants. Subordinate, noncycling elephants displayed the highest percentage of "ears erect." Social rank drives the interactions of ex situ female African elephants more than ovarian cyclicity status. Thus, behavioral interactions cannot be used to predict which cycling elephants are most likely to become acyclic.

  10. Evaluation of Demographics and Social Life Events of Asian (Elephas maximus) and African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in North American Zoos

    PubMed Central

    Prado-Oviedo, Natalia A.; Bonaparte-Saller, Mary K.; Malloy, Elizabeth J.; Meehan, Cheryl L.; Mench, Joy A.; Carlstead, Kathy; Brown, Janine L.

    2016-01-01

    This study quantified social life events hypothesized to affect the welfare of zoo African and Asian elephants, focusing on animals that were part of a large multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional elephant welfare study in North America. Age was calculated based on recorded birth dates and an age-based account of life event data for each elephant was compiled. These event histories included facility transfers, births and deaths of offspring, and births and deaths of non-offspring herd mates. Each event was evaluated as a total number of events per elephant, lifetime rate of event exposure, and age at first event exposure. These were then compared across three categories: species (African vs. Asian); sex (male vs. female); and origin (imported vs. captive-born). Mean age distributions differed (p<0.05) between the categories: African elephants were 6 years younger than Asian elephants, males were 12 years younger than females, and captive-born elephants were 20 years younger than imported elephants. Overall, the number of transfers ranged from 0 to 10, with a 33% higher age-adjusted transfer rate for imported African than imported Asian elephants, and 37% lower rate for imported females than males (p<0.05). Other differences (p<0.05) included a 96% higher rate of offspring births for captive-born females than those imported from range countries, a 159% higher rate of birthing event exposures for captive-born males than for their imported counterparts, and Asian elephant females being 4 years younger than African females when they produced their first calf. In summarizing demographic and social life events of elephants in North American zoos, we found both qualitative and quantitative differences in the early lives of imported versus captive-born elephants that could have long-term welfare implications. PMID:27415437

  11. Evaluation of Demographics and Social Life Events of Asian (Elephas maximus) and African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Prado-Oviedo, Natalia A; Bonaparte-Saller, Mary K; Malloy, Elizabeth J; Meehan, Cheryl L; Mench, Joy A; Carlstead, Kathy; Brown, Janine L

    2016-01-01

    This study quantified social life events hypothesized to affect the welfare of zoo African and Asian elephants, focusing on animals that were part of a large multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional elephant welfare study in North America. Age was calculated based on recorded birth dates and an age-based account of life event data for each elephant was compiled. These event histories included facility transfers, births and deaths of offspring, and births and deaths of non-offspring herd mates. Each event was evaluated as a total number of events per elephant, lifetime rate of event exposure, and age at first event exposure. These were then compared across three categories: species (African vs. Asian); sex (male vs. female); and origin (imported vs. captive-born). Mean age distributions differed (p<0.05) between the categories: African elephants were 6 years younger than Asian elephants, males were 12 years younger than females, and captive-born elephants were 20 years younger than imported elephants. Overall, the number of transfers ranged from 0 to 10, with a 33% higher age-adjusted transfer rate for imported African than imported Asian elephants, and 37% lower rate for imported females than males (p<0.05). Other differences (p<0.05) included a 96% higher rate of offspring births for captive-born females than those imported from range countries, a 159% higher rate of birthing event exposures for captive-born males than for their imported counterparts, and Asian elephant females being 4 years younger than African females when they produced their first calf. In summarizing demographic and social life events of elephants in North American zoos, we found both qualitative and quantitative differences in the early lives of imported versus captive-born elephants that could have long-term welfare implications. PMID:27415437

  12. Evaluation of Demographics and Social Life Events of Asian (Elephas maximus) and African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Prado-Oviedo, Natalia A; Bonaparte-Saller, Mary K; Malloy, Elizabeth J; Meehan, Cheryl L; Mench, Joy A; Carlstead, Kathy; Brown, Janine L

    2016-01-01

    This study quantified social life events hypothesized to affect the welfare of zoo African and Asian elephants, focusing on animals that were part of a large multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional elephant welfare study in North America. Age was calculated based on recorded birth dates and an age-based account of life event data for each elephant was compiled. These event histories included facility transfers, births and deaths of offspring, and births and deaths of non-offspring herd mates. Each event was evaluated as a total number of events per elephant, lifetime rate of event exposure, and age at first event exposure. These were then compared across three categories: species (African vs. Asian); sex (male vs. female); and origin (imported vs. captive-born). Mean age distributions differed (p<0.05) between the categories: African elephants were 6 years younger than Asian elephants, males were 12 years younger than females, and captive-born elephants were 20 years younger than imported elephants. Overall, the number of transfers ranged from 0 to 10, with a 33% higher age-adjusted transfer rate for imported African than imported Asian elephants, and 37% lower rate for imported females than males (p<0.05). Other differences (p<0.05) included a 96% higher rate of offspring births for captive-born females than those imported from range countries, a 159% higher rate of birthing event exposures for captive-born males than for their imported counterparts, and Asian elephant females being 4 years younger than African females when they produced their first calf. In summarizing demographic and social life events of elephants in North American zoos, we found both qualitative and quantitative differences in the early lives of imported versus captive-born elephants that could have long-term welfare implications.

  13. Assessment of Flooring Renovations on African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Behavior and Glucocorticoid Response

    PubMed Central

    Boyle, Sarah A.; Roberts, Beth; Pope, Brittany M.; Blake, Margaret R.; Leavelle, Stephen E.; Marshall, Jennifer J.; Smith, Andrew; Hadicke, Amanda; Falcone, Josephine F.; Knott, Katrina; Kouba, Andrew J.

    2015-01-01

    Captive African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants can experience foot pathologies and arthritis. As a preventative measure against these pathologies and to alleviate the potential discomfort due to concrete substrates, some zoological institutions have renovated elephant housing to increase the amount of natural or shock-absorbent substrates. The objective of this study was to compare behavioral (diurnal and nocturnal) and glucorticoid (e.g., serum cortisol) responses of three female African elephants before, during, and after renovation to their indoor housing floor to assess whether renovations had short-term effects on the elephants’ behavior and stress physiology. Behavioral data were collected using scan-sampling methods, and activity budgets were constructed for each of the three elephants. In addition, the duration of all lying rest activities were recorded. Weekly serum cortisol concentrations were determined with enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Overall, eating was the most prevalent behavior exhibited outdoors during the day, while resting (either in a lying or standing position) were most common during the indoor, nocturnal periods. Although variation existed among the three elephants, all three females spent significantly more time walking and less time eating during the day after the completion of the renovations. The extent to which the three elephants exhibited nocturnal lying rest behavior varied among the elephants, with the oldest elephant exhibiting the least amount (an average of 13.2 ± 2.8% of the nightly behavioral scans) compared to the two younger elephants (an average of 34.5 ± 2.1% and 56.6 ± 2.8% of the nightly behavioral scans). There was a significant increase in lying rest behavior for one elephant and standing rest for a second elephant following renovations. Baseline cortisol concentrations prior to renovations were 3.0 ± 0.4 ng/ml, 4.5 ± 0.5 ng/ml, and 4.9 ± 0.5 ng/ml for the three elephants. Cortisol

  14. Land-atmosphere interactions in the West African Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Parlange, M. B.; Ceperley, N. C.; Mande, T.; Bassiouni, M.; Van De Giesen, N.; Tyler, S. W.

    2012-12-01

    Continuous field observations in southeastern Burkina - Faso, since 2008, have been undertaken to observe and understand the diurnal and seasonal hydrologic behavior in this sensitive zone for global circulation patterns. Though this is an important region in the context of global hydrology it remains largely ungauged with minimal observation. To advance hydrology it becomes essential to start to measure at field scales of interest. Within a small watershed (< 4 km2), with mixed agriculture and Savanna forest, the ephemeral stream flow, surface energy balance, vegetation dynamics, and regional micrometeorology and soil moisture have been monitored using distributed environmental sensor networks, eddy correlation towers, stream gauging, sap flow monitoring and isotope sampling. The pattern of changes that take place during the wet season transitions and the coupling of local water resources with evaporation into the atmosphere are highlighted. The applications of robust evaporation models are discussed.

  15. African Elephant Alarm Calls Distinguish between Threats from Humans and Bees

    PubMed Central

    Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Vollrath, Fritz; Savage, Anne

    2014-01-01

    The Samburu pastoralists of Northern Kenya co-exist with African elephants, Loxodonta africana, and compete over resources such as watering holes. Audio playback experiments demonstrate that African elephants produce alarm calls in response to the voices of Samburu tribesmen. When exposed to adult male Samburu voices, listening elephants exhibited vigilance behavior, flight behavior, and produced vocalizations (rumbles, roars and trumpets). Rumble vocalizations were most common and were characterized by increased and more variable fundamental frequencies, and an upward shift in the first [F1] and second [F2] formant locations, compared to control rumbles. When exposed to a sequence of these recorded rumbles, roars and trumpets, listening elephants also exhibited vigilance and flight behavior. The same behavior was observed, in lesser degrees, both when the roars and trumpets were removed, and when the second formants were artificially lowered to levels typical of control rumbles. The “Samburu alarm rumble” is acoustically distinct from the previously described “bee alarm rumble.” The bee alarm rumbles exhibited increased F2, while Samburu alarm rumbles exhibited increased F1 and F2, compared to controls. Moreover, the behavioral reactions to the two threats were different. Elephants exhibited vigilance and flight behavior in response to Samburu and bee stimuli and to both alarm calls, but headshaking behavior only occurred in response to bee sounds and bee alarm calls. In general, increasingly threatening stimuli elicited alarm calls with increases in F0 and in formant locations, and increasing numbers of these acoustic cues in vocal stimuli elicited increased vigilance and flight behavior in listening elephants. These results show that African elephant alarm calls differentiate between two types of threat and reflect the level of urgency of threats. PMID:24586753

  16. African elephant alarm calls distinguish between threats from humans and bees.

    PubMed

    Soltis, Joseph; King, Lucy E; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Vollrath, Fritz; Savage, Anne

    2014-01-01

    The Samburu pastoralists of Northern Kenya co-exist with African elephants, Loxodonta africana, and compete over resources such as watering holes. Audio playback experiments demonstrate that African elephants produce alarm calls in response to the voices of Samburu tribesmen. When exposed to adult male Samburu voices, listening elephants exhibited vigilance behavior, flight behavior, and produced vocalizations (rumbles, roars and trumpets). Rumble vocalizations were most common and were characterized by increased and more variable fundamental frequencies, and an upward shift in the first [F1] and second [F2] formant locations, compared to control rumbles. When exposed to a sequence of these recorded rumbles, roars and trumpets, listening elephants also exhibited vigilance and flight behavior. The same behavior was observed, in lesser degrees, both when the roars and trumpets were removed, and when the second formants were artificially lowered to levels typical of control rumbles. The "Samburu alarm rumble" is acoustically distinct from the previously described "bee alarm rumble." The bee alarm rumbles exhibited increased F2, while Samburu alarm rumbles exhibited increased F1 and F2, compared to controls. Moreover, the behavioral reactions to the two threats were different. Elephants exhibited vigilance and flight behavior in response to Samburu and bee stimuli and to both alarm calls, but headshaking behavior only occurred in response to bee sounds and bee alarm calls. In general, increasingly threatening stimuli elicited alarm calls with increases in F0 and in formant locations, and increasing numbers of these acoustic cues in vocal stimuli elicited increased vigilance and flight behavior in listening elephants. These results show that African elephant alarm calls differentiate between two types of threat and reflect the level of urgency of threats. PMID:24586753

  17. Carbon, Water and Energy Fluxes in an African Savanna Ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hanan, N. P.; Scholes, R. J.; Privette, J. L.

    2001-12-01

    Eddy covariance measurements of the turbulent fluxes of CO2, water and energy, and associated micrometeorological and biophysical measurements, have been made at a site in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, since April 2000. The study site is located in the southern region of KNP in a gently undulating landscape on granite substrate, with drainage lines 2-3 km apart and ridge tops 30-40 meters above the valley floors. The climate is semi-arid subtropical, with hot, rainy summers, warm dry winters and annual average rainfall of 550-650 mm. The soils of the catena vary between coarse-textured sand near the ridge-tops and finer-textured loamy-sand on the mid-slope and valley floors. The vegetation also differs along the catena, with broad-leaved tree species and low palatability grasses on the sandy soil and bi-pinnate tree species and more palatable grasses on the loam soils. The natural disturbance regime of the site includes fire, at return intervals of 3-8 years, as well as grazing and browsing by numerous species of wild ungulate. Results from the first 18 months of flux measurements are presented, contrasting an unusually wet growing season (1999-2000), followed by a dry-season fire, and a growing season with more average rainfall (2000-2001). The functional and phenological differences between broad-leaf and fine-leaf savanna are explored, and the carbon and water dynamics of the savanna systems interpreted in the context of seasonal weather variation, soil type and nutrient status.

  18. Methane sources and sinks in a periodically flooded South African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Otter, Luanne B.; Scholes, Mary C.

    2000-03-01

    Methane (CH4) fluxes were measured over a 2-year period at subtropical savanna and floodplain sites located in South Africa. No significant differences were detected in fluxes from the nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor savannas. Savannas were not always sinks and showed some CH4 emissions during the wet, summer season with fluxes in the range of -1.6 to 1.68 mg m-2 d-1. Soil temperature did not have a significant effect on the flux, while CH4 consumption decreased and emissions increased with an increase in soil moisture between 5% and 50% water-filled-pore-space (WFPS). Understanding the factors which control the production and emission of CH4 in aerobic environments is extremely important for predicting net emissions from a region. Dry floodplain soil fluxes were near zero and did not differ significantly from savanna fluxes. During a flood, saturated sites emitted CH4 at an average rate of 69.4 mg m-2 d-1. Flooded areas with a water depth of 0.3 - 0.4 m emitted CH4 from the water surface at rates between 0.48 and 466.3 mg m-2 d-1 with the highest emission occurring during summer. Emission rates were exponentially related to sediment temperature, which had a greater influence on the emission rate than the flood regime. The length of the dry period preceding the flood and the extent of a flood did not have a significant effect on CH4 fluxes from saturated and flooded sites. Emission rates were highest when the water level was between 0.1 m below the soil surface and 0.4 m above the soil surface, with emission rates declining to near zero as the water became deeper than 0.4 m. Savannas were estimated to consume an average of 0.04 g CH4 m-2 d-1, with southern African savannas consuming 0.23 Tg CH4 yr-1. Saturated and flooded sites were estimated to produce 25.3 and 57.2 g CH4 m-2 d-1, respectively. Southern African floodplains are estimated to produce between 0.2 and 10 Tg CH4 yr-1(excluding the effects of vegetation-mediated emissions) and therefore produce more CH4

  19. Western equatorial African forest-savanna mosaics: a legacy of late Holocene climatic change?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ngomanda, A.; Chepstow-Lusty, A.; Makaya, M.; Favier, C.; Schevin, P.; Maley, J.; Fontugne, M.; Oslisly, R.; Jolly, D.

    2009-02-01

    Past vegetation and climate changes reconstructed using two pollen records from Lakes Maridor and Nguène, Gabon, provide new insights into the environmental history of western equatorial African rainforests during the last 4500 cal yr BP. The Lake Maridor pollen record indicates that the coastal savannas of western equatorial Africa did not exist during the mid-Holocene and instead the region was covered by evergreen rainforests. In the Lake Nguène pollen record, a rapid decline of hygrophilous evergreen rainforest occurred around 4000 cal yr BP, synchronously with grassland expansion around Lake Maridor. The establishment of coastal savannas in Gabon suggests decreasing humidity at the onset of the late Holocene. The marked reduction in evergreen rainforest and subsequent savanna expansion was associated with the colonization of secondary forests dominated by the palm, Elaeis guineensis, in the coastal region and the shrub, Alchornea cordifolia, further inland. A return to wetter climatic conditions from about 1400 cal yr BP led to the renewed spread of evergreen rainforest inland, whereas a forest-savanna mosaic still persists in the coastal region. There is no evidence to suggest that the major environmental changes observed are driven by human impact.

  20. Information content and acoustic structure of male African elephant social rumbles.

    PubMed

    Stoeger, Angela S; Baotic, Anton

    2016-01-01

    Until recently, the prevailing theory about male African elephants (Loxodonta africana) was that, once adult and sexually mature, males are solitary and targeted only at finding estrous females. While this is true during the state of 'musth' (a condition characterized by aggressive behavior and elevated androgen levels), 'non-musth' males exhibit a social system seemingly based on companionship, dominance and established hierarchies. Research on elephant vocal communication has so far focused on females, and very little is known about the acoustic structure and the information content of male vocalizations. Using the source and filter theory approach, we analyzed social rumbles of 10 male African elephants. Our results reveal that male rumbles encode information about individuality and maturity (age and size), with formant frequencies and absolute fundamental frequency values having the most informative power. This first comprehensive study on male elephant vocalizations gives important indications on their potential functional relevance for male-male and male-female communication. Our results suggest that, similar to the highly social females, future research on male elephant vocal behavior will reveal a complex communication system in which social knowledge, companionship, hierarchy, reproductive competition and the need to communicate over long distances play key roles. PMID:27273586

  1. Information content and acoustic structure of male African elephant social rumbles

    PubMed Central

    Stoeger, Angela S.; Baotic, Anton

    2016-01-01

    Until recently, the prevailing theory about male African elephants (Loxodonta africana) was that, once adult and sexually mature, males are solitary and targeted only at finding estrous females. While this is true during the state of ‘musth’ (a condition characterized by aggressive behavior and elevated androgen levels), ‘non-musth’ males exhibit a social system seemingly based on companionship, dominance and established hierarchies. Research on elephant vocal communication has so far focused on females, and very little is known about the acoustic structure and the information content of male vocalizations. Using the source and filter theory approach, we analyzed social rumbles of 10 male African elephants. Our results reveal that male rumbles encode information about individuality and maturity (age and size), with formant frequencies and absolute fundamental frequency values having the most informative power. This first comprehensive study on male elephant vocalizations gives important indications on their potential functional relevance for male-male and male-female communication. Our results suggest that, similar to the highly social females, future research on male elephant vocal behavior will reveal a complex communication system in which social knowledge, companionship, hierarchy, reproductive competition and the need to communicate over long distances play key roles. PMID:27273586

  2. Trace gas emissions to the atmosphere by biomass burning in the west African savannas

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Frouin, Robert J.; Iacobellis, Samuel F.; Razafimpanilo, Herisoa; Somerville, Richard C. J.

    1994-01-01

    Savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) detection and estimating burned area using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer_(AVHRR) reflectance data are investigated in this two part research project. The first part involves carbon dioxide flux estimates and a three-dimensional transport model to quantify the effect of north African savanna fires on atmospheric CO2 concentration, including CO2 spatial and temporal variability patterns and their significance to global emissions. The second article describes two methods used to determine burned area from AVHRR data. The article discusses the relationship between the percentage of burned area and AVHRR channel 2 reflectance (the linear method) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (the nonlinear method). A comparative performance analysis of each method is described.

  3. The Social and Ecological Integration of Captive-Raised Adolescent Male African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) into a Wild Population

    PubMed Central

    Evans, Kate; Moore, Randall; Harris, Stephen

    2013-01-01

    Background A rapid rise in the number of captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) used in the tourism industry in southern Africa and orphaned elephants in human care has led to concerns about their long-term management, particularly males. One solution is to release them into the wild at adolescence, when young males naturally leave their herd. However, this raises significant welfare concerns: little is known about how well released elephants integrate into wild populations and whether they pose a greater threat to humans than wild elephants. We document the release of three captive-raised adolescent male African elephants in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Methodology/Principal Findings Despite having been part of a herd of working elephants for at least eight years, the three males progressively integrated into the complex fission-fusion society of wild bull elephants. In the three years following release, they showed no tendency to be closer to human habitation, and there were no significant differences between wild and captive-raised adolescent males in the total number of social interactions, size of ranges and habitat use. However, the captive-raised elephants sparred less and vocalised more, and spent more time alone and in smaller social groups. Thereafter the released elephants continued to expand their ranges and interact with both mixed-sex herds and males. One male was shot by farmers 94 months after release, along with ten wild elephants, on a ranch outside the protected area. Conclusions/Significance We show that captive-raised adolescent male elephants can integrate into a wild population. Long-term studies are required to determine the longevity, breeding success, and eventual fate of released male elephants, but we identified no significant short-term welfare problems for the released elephants or recipient population. Release of captive-raised mammals with complex social systems is a husbandry option that should be explored further. PMID

  4. IMMUNOLOCALIZATION OF INHIBIN/ACTIVIN SUBUNITS AND STEROIDOGENIC ENZYMES IN THE TESTES OF AN ADULT AFRICAN ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA).

    PubMed

    Li, Qinglin; Lu, Lu; Weng, Qiang; Kawakami, Shigehisa; Saito, Eriko; Yamamoto, Tatsuya; Yamamoto, Yuki; Kaewmanee, Saroch; Nagaoka, Kentaro; Watanabe, Gen; Taya, Kazuyoshi

    2016-06-01

    In this case report, the authors investigated immunolocalization of inhibin α and inhibin/activin βA and βB subunits, as well as steroidogenic enzymes, in the testes of an African elephant. Testes were collected from a reproductively active male African elephant (24 yr old) at autopsy. Histologically, all types of spermatogenic cells including mature-phase spermatozoa were found in the seminiferous tubules. Positive immunostaining for inhibin α and inhibin/activin βA and βB subunits was observed in Sertoli and Leydig cells. In addition, P450scc, 3βHSD, P450c17, and P450arom were also detected in the cytoplasm of Leydig cells. These results suggested that Leydig cells of adult African elephant testes have the ability to synthesize progestin, androgen, and estrogen, whereas both Sertoli and Leydig cells appear as a major source of inhibin secretion in the male African elephant.

  5. Characterization of casein and alpha lactalbumin of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) milk.

    PubMed

    Madende, M; Osthoff, G; Patterton, H-G; Patterton, H E; Martin, P; Opperman, D J

    2015-12-01

    The current research reports partial characterization of the caseins and α-lactalbumin (α-LA) of the African elephant with proposed unique structure-function properties. Extensive research has been carried out to understand the structure of the casein micelles. Crystallographic structure elucidation of caseins and casein micelles is not possible. Consequently, several models have been developed in an effort to describe the casein micelle, specifically of cow milk. Here we report the characterization of African elephant milk caseins. The κ-caseins and β-caseins were investigated, and their relative ratio was found to be approximately 1:8.5, whereas α-caseins were not detected. The gene sequence of β-casein in the NCBI database was revisited, and a different sequence in the N-terminal region is proposed. Amino acid sequence alignment and hydropathy plots showed that the κ-casein of African elephant milk is similar to that of other mammals, whereas the β-casein is similar to the human protein, and displayed a section of unique AA composition and additional hydrophilic regions compared with bovine caseins. Elephant milk is destabilized by 62% alcohol, and it is speculated that the β-casein characteristics may allow maintenance of the colloidal nature of the casein micelle, a role that was previously only associated with κ-casein. The oligosaccharide content of milk was reported to be low in dairy animals but high in some other species such as humans and elephants. In the milk of the African elephant, lactose and oligosaccharides both occur at high levels. These levels are typically related to the content of α-LA in the mammary gland and thus point to a specialized carbohydrate synthesis, where the whey protein α-LA plays a role. We report the characterization of African elephant α-LA. Homology modeling of the α-LA showed that it is structurally similar to crystal structures of other mammalian species, which in turn may be an indication that its functional

  6. Mapping the Elephants of the 19th Century East African Ivory Trade with a Multi-Isotope Approach

    PubMed Central

    Lee-Thorp, Julia; Collins, Matthew J.; Lane, Paul J.

    2016-01-01

    East African elephants have been hunted for their ivory for millennia but the nineteenth century witnessed strongly escalating demand from Europe and North America. It has been suggested that one consequence was that by the 1880s elephant herds along the coast had become scarce, and to meet demand, trade caravans trekked farther into interior regions of East Africa, extending the extraction frontier. The steady decimation of elephant populations coupled with the extension of trade networks have also been claimed to have triggered significant ecological and socio-economic changes that left lasting legacies across the region. To explore the feasibility of using an isotopic approach to uncover a ‘moving frontier’ of elephant extraction, we constructed a baseline isotope data set (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr) for historic East African elephants known to have come from three distinct regions (coastal, Rift Valley, and inland Lakes). Using the isotope results with other climate data and geographical mapping tools, it was possible to characterise elephants from different habitats across the region. This baseline data set was then used to provenance elephant ivory of unknown geographical provenance that was exported from East Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to determine its likely origin. This produced a better understanding of historic elephant geography in the region, and the data have the potential to be used to provenance older archaeological ivories, and to inform contemporary elephant conservation strategies. PMID:27760152

  7. African elephants (Loxodonta africana) recognize visual attention from face and body orientation.

    PubMed

    Smet, Anna F; Byrne, Richard W

    2014-07-01

    How do animals determine when others are able and disposed to receive their communicative signals? In particular, it is futile to make a silent gesture when the intended audience cannot see it. Some non-human primates use the head and body orientation of their audience to infer visual attentiveness when signalling, but whether species relying less on visual information use such cues when producing visual signals is unknown. Here, we test whether African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are sensitive to the visual perspective of a human experimenter. We examined whether the frequency of gestures of head and trunk, produced to request food, was influenced by indications of an experimenter's visual attention. Elephants signalled significantly more towards the experimenter when her face was oriented towards them, except when her body faced away from them. These results suggest that elephants understand the importance of visual attention for effective communication.

  8. A preliminary study of the behavioral effects of feeding enrichment on African elephants.

    PubMed

    Stoinski, T.S.; Daniel, E.; Maple, T.L.

    2000-01-01

    Although commonly practiced with many species, feeding enrichment in elephants is understudied. The behavioral effects of feeding enrichment were tested in three African elephants by substituting an equal dry weight of browse for hay in an ABA design. The results showed a significant increase in feeding and significant decreases in drinking and inactivity when the browse was present. Additionally, changes in feeding, inactivity, and time spent in contact were observed outside the time the browse was actually presented, although the relationship of these changes to the experimental methodology is unknown. A significant increase in visibility to zoo visitors during the browse conditions demonstrates that browse is an effective, naturalistic method for increasing visibility as well as species-typical behaviors. Managers of captive elephants should consult with a nutritionist to address issues of energetics, nutritional content, and secondary compounds when using browse as feeding enrichment. Zoo Biol 19:485-493, 2000. Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

  9. The identification of elephant ivory evidences of illegal trade with mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and hypervariable D-loop region.

    PubMed

    Lee, Eun-jung; Lee, Yang-han; Moon, Seo-hyun; Kim, Nam-ye; Kim, Soon-hee; Yang, Moon-sik; Choi, Dong-ho; Han, Myun-soo

    2013-04-01

    DNA analysis of elephant ivory of illegal trade was handled in this work. The speciation and geographical origin of nine specimens of elephant ivory were requested by the police. Without national authorization, the suspect had purchased processed ivory seals from January to May, 2011 by Internet transactions from a site in a neighboring country. The DNA of decalcified ivory evidences was isolated with QIAGEN Micro Kit. The total 844-904 base pair sized sequences of mitochondrial cytochrome b and D-loop region could be acquired using direct sequencing analysis. They were compared with the sequences registered in GenBank. It was confirmed that most specimens were likely from African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), one from African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and one from Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Analysis of the mitochondrial hypervariable D-loop region sequence of elephants verified that one African savanna elephant might be from South Africa and one Asian elephant from Laos. Cytochrome b and D-loop region located in the mitochondrial DNA resulted in the successful determination of elephant DNA from nine processed ivory specimens.

  10. Large-scale impacts of herbivores on the structural diversity of African savannas.

    PubMed

    Asner, Gregory P; Levick, Shaun R; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E; Emerson, Ruth; Jacobson, James; Colgan, Matthew S; Martin, Roberta E

    2009-03-24

    African savannas are undergoing management intensification, and decision makers are increasingly challenged to balance the needs of large herbivore populations with the maintenance of vegetation and ecosystem diversity. Ensuring the sustainability of Africa's natural protected areas requires information on the efficacy of management decisions at large spatial scales, but often neither experimental treatments nor large-scale responses are available for analysis. Using a new airborne remote sensing system, we mapped the three-dimensional (3-D) structure of vegetation at a spatial resolution of 56 cm throughout 1640 ha of savanna after 6-, 22-, 35-, and 41-year exclusions of herbivores, as well as in unprotected areas, across Kruger National Park in South Africa. Areas in which herbivores were excluded over the short term (6 years) contained 38%-80% less bare ground compared with those that were exposed to mammalian herbivory. In the longer-term (> 22 years), the 3-D structure of woody vegetation differed significantly between protected and accessible landscapes, with up to 11-fold greater woody canopy cover in the areas without herbivores. Our maps revealed 2 scales of ecosystem response to herbivore consumption, one broadly mediated by geologic substrate and the other mediated by hillslope-scale variation in soil nutrient availability and moisture conditions. Our results are the first to quantitatively illustrate the extent to which herbivores can affect the 3-D structural diversity of vegetation across large savanna landscapes.

  11. A practical anesthesia monitoring protocol for free-ranging adult African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Osofsky, S A

    1997-01-01

    Twenty free-ranging adult African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in northern Botswana were immobilized with a mean (+/- SD) of 9.5 +/- 0.5 mg etorphine hydrochloride and 2,000 IU hyaluronidase by intramuscular (IM) dart. The mean time to recumbency was 8.7 +/- 2.4 min. All animals were maintained in lateral recumbency. The anesthesia monitoring protocol included cardiothoracic auscultation; palpation of auricular pulse for quality and regularity; checking of rectal temperature, and monitoring of respiratory and heart rates. Results of basic physiologic measurements were similar to those of previous field studies of African elephants immobilized with etorphine or etorphine-hyaluronidase. In addition, continuous real-time pulse rate and percent oxygen saturation of hemoglobin (SpO2) readings were obtained on 16 elephants with a portable pulse oximeter. Duration of pulse oximetry monitoring ranged from 3 to 24 min (mean +/- SD = 8.2 +/- 4.8 min). Differences between minimum and maximum SpO2 values for any given elephant ranged from 1 to 6 percentage points, evidence for relatively stable trends. The SpO2 readings ranged from 70% to 96% among the 16 elephants, with a mean of 87.3 +/- 2.8%. Fifteen of 16 elephants monitored with a pulse oximeter had mean SpO2 values > or = 81 +/- 2.4%, with 11 having mean SpO2 values > or = 85 +/- 1.5%. All 20 animals recovered uneventfully following reversal: diprenorphine at 23.3 +/- 1.5 mg intravenous (IV) with 11.7 +/- 0.5 mg IM, or 24 mg diprenorphine given all IV.

  12. The influence of socioeconomic factors on the densities of high-value cross-border species, the African elephant

    PubMed Central

    Slotow, Rob; Di Minin, Enrico

    2016-01-01

    Unprecedented poaching levels triggered by demand for ivory in Far East Asia are threatening the persistence of African elephant Loxodonta africana. Southern African countries make an important contribution to elephant conservation and could soon become the last stronghold of elephant conservation in Africa. While the ecological factors affecting elephant distribution and densities have extensively been accounted for, there is a need to understand which socioeconomic factors affect elephant numbers in order to prevent conflict over limited space and resources with humans. We used elephant count data from aerial surveys for seven years in a generalized linear model, which accounted for temporal correlation, to investigate the effect of six socioeconomic and ecological variables on the number of elephant at the country level in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA). Important factors in predicting elephant numbers were the proportion of total land surface under cultivation, human population density and the number of tourists visiting the country. Specifically, elephant numbers were higher where the proportion of total land surface under cultivation was the lowest; where population density was the lowest and where tourist numbers had increased over the years. Our results confirm that human disturbance is affecting elephant numbers, but highlight that the benefits provided by ecotourism could help enhance elephant conservation. While future studies should include larger areas and more detailed data at the site level, we stress that the development of coordinated legislation and policies to improve land-use planning are needed to reduce the impact of increasing human populations and agriculture on elephant. PMID:27812404

  13. Movements and corridors of African elephants in relation to protected areas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Douglas-Hamilton, I.; Krink, T.; Vollrath, F.

    2005-04-01

    Understanding how mammals satisfy their need for space in fragmenting ecosystems is crucial for ecosystem conservation. Using state-of-the-art global positioning system (GPS) technology we tracked 11 focal African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Kenya at 3-hourly fix intervals and collected between 34 and 406 days per individual. Our recordings gave a high spatio-temporal resolution compared to previous studies and allowed novel insights into range use. The actual ranges of the tracked elephants are smaller than usually represented. Moreover, the ranges in our sample were complex and not confined to officially designated protected areas, except where fenced. All the unfenced elephants in our sample had distinct `home sectors' linked by `travel' corridors. Within each home sector the elephants concentrated in favourite `core zones'. Such core zones tended to lie in protected areas whereas corridors typically crossed unprotected range. Elephants moved significantly faster along corridors than elsewhere in their range, which suggests awareness of danger outside the protected area. We conclude that understanding the complex use of an animal's range is crucial for conservation planning aiming to balance animal interests with those of human beings that co-habit in their range.

  14. Movements and corridors of African elephants in relation to protected areas.

    PubMed

    Douglas-Hamilton, I; Krink, T; Vollrath, F

    2005-04-01

    Understanding how mammals satisfy their need for space in fragmenting ecosystems is crucial for ecosystem conservation. Using state-of-the-art global positioning system (GPS) technology we tracked 11 focal African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Kenya at 3-hourly fix intervals and collected between 34 and 406 days per individual. Our recordings gave a high spatio-temporal resolution compared to previous studies and allowed novel insights into range use. The actual ranges of the tracked elephants are smaller than usually represented. Moreover, the ranges in our sample were complex and not confined to officially designated protected areas, except where fenced. All the unfenced elephants in our sample had distinct 'home sectors' linked by 'travel' corridors. Within each home sector the elephants concentrated in favourite 'core zones'. Such core zones tended to lie in protected areas whereas corridors typically crossed unprotected range. Elephants moved significantly faster along corridors than elsewhere in their range, which suggests awareness of danger outside the protected area. We conclude that understanding the complex use of an animal's range is crucial for conservation planning aiming to balance animal interests with those of human beings that co-habit in their range.

  15. Hyperprolactinemia is not associated with hyperestrogenism in noncycling African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Prado-Oviedo, Natalia A; Malloy, Elizabeth J; Deng, Xinyi; Brown, Janine L

    2013-08-01

    African elephants in US zoos are not reproducing at replacement levels. This is in part due to physiological problems, one of which is abnormal ovarian cyclicity that has been linked to increased prolactin secretion (hyperprolactinemia). A relationship between increased estrogen production (hyperestrogenism) and hyperprolactinemia has been found in other species. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine if elevated prolactin was associated with increased estrogen concentrations in non-cycling African elephants. In cycling elephants (n=12), prolactin secretion followed a normal cyclic pattern, with higher concentrations observed during the follicular phase; overall mean concentration was ∼18ng/ml and baseline prolactin was ∼6ng/ml. Non-cycling females (n=18) were categorized into three groups: (1) low prolactin (<15ng/ml; n=3); (2) moderate hyperprolactinemia (16-30ng/ml; n=7); and marked hyperprolactinemia (>31ng/ml; n=8). Mean urinary estrogen conjugate concentrations ranged from 5.4 to 41.4ng/mg Crt, and were similar between normal cycling (15.4±1.5ng/mg Crt) and non-cycling, low prolactin elephants (18.4±7.3ng/mg Crt), but were lower in moderate (9.4±1.3ng/mg Crt) and marked hyperprolactinemic (9.8±1.1ng/mg Crt) groups (P<0.05). In conclusion, African elephants appear to be sensitive to alterations in prolactin production, with both low (e.g., a non-cycling pattern) and high prolactin secretion being associated with abnormal ovarian activity. However, hyperestrogenism was not related to hyperprolactinemia in the non-cycling females.

  16. Assigning African elephant DNA to geographic region of origin: Applications to the ivory trade

    PubMed Central

    Wasser, Samuel K.; Shedlock, Andrew M.; Comstock, Kenine; Ostrander, Elaine A.; Mutayoba, Benezeth; Stephens, Matthew

    2004-01-01

    Resurgence of illicit trade in African elephant ivory is placing the elephant at renewed risk. Regulation of this trade could be vastly improved by the ability to verify the geographic origin of tusks. We address this need by developing a combined genetic and statistical method to determine the origin of poached ivory. Our statistical approach exploits a smoothing method to estimate geographic-specific allele frequencies over the entire African elephants' range for 16 microsatellite loci, using 315 tissue and 84 scat samples from forest (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) and savannah (Loxodonta africana africana) elephants at 28 locations. These geographic-specific allele frequency estimates are used to infer the geographic origin of DNA samples, such as could be obtained from tusks of unknown origin. We demonstrate that our method alleviates several problems associated with standard assignment methods in this context, and the absolute accuracy of our method is high. Continent-wide, 50% of samples were located within 500 km, and 80% within 932 km of their actual place of origin. Accuracy varied by region (median accuracies: West Africa, 135 km; Central Savannah, 286 km; Central Forest, 411 km; South, 535 km; and East, 697 km). In some cases, allele frequencies vary considerably over small geographic regions, making much finer discriminations possible and suggesting that resolution could be further improved by collection of samples from locations not represented in our study. PMID:15459317

  17. Results of the third reproductive assessment survey of North American Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) female elephants.

    PubMed

    Dow, T L; Holásková, I; Brown, J L

    2011-01-01

    A written survey assessed reproductive status of female Asian and African elephants in AZA/SSP facilities in 2008, and data were compared to surveys conducted in 2002 and 2005. Results showed that ovarian acyclicity rates across the surveys remained unchanged for Asian (13.3, 10.9 and 11.1%) and African (22.1, 31.2 and 30.5%) elephants, respectively (P > 0.05), but were higher overall for African compared to Asian elephants (P < 0.05). In 2008, the percentages of Asian and African elephants with irregular cycles (14.3 and 15.8%) and irregular + no cycles (25.4 and 46.4%) was similar to 2005 (7.6 and 11.8%; 18.5 and 43.0%), but were increased compared to 2002 (2.6 and 5.2%; 16.0 and 27.3%), respectively (P < 0.05). For both species, ovarian acyclicity increased with age (P < 0.05). Reproductive tract pathologies did not account for the majority of acyclicity, although rates were higher in noncycling females (P < 0.05). Bull presence was associated with increased cyclicity rates (P < 0.05) for Asian (92.5 vs. 58.3%) and African (64.9 vs. 57.8%) elephants compared to females at facilities with no male, respectively. Cyclicity rates were higher for Asian (86.8 vs. 65.2%) and African (67.9 vs. 56.7%) elephants managed in free compared to protected contact programs (P < 0.05), respectively. Geographical facility location had no effect on cyclicity (P > 0.05). In summary, incidence of ovarian cycle problems continues to predominantly affect African elephants. Although percentages of acyclicity did not increase between 2005 and 2008, 42.2% Asian and 30.2% African females were no longer being hormonally monitored; thus, reproductive cycle abnormalities could be worse than current data suggest.

  18. Preliminary validation of assays to measure parameters of calcium metabolism in captive Asian and African elephants in western Europe.

    PubMed

    van Sonsbeek, Gerda R; van der Kolk, Johannes H; van Leeuwen, Johannes P T M; Schaftenaar, Willem

    2011-05-01

    Hypocalcemia is a well known cause of dystocia in animals, including elephants in captivity. In order to study calcium metabolism in elephants, it is of utmost importance to use properly validated assays, as these might be prone to specific matrix effects in elephant blood. The aim of the current study was to conduct preliminary work for validation of various parameters involved in calcium metabolism in both blood and urine of captive elephants. Basal values of these parameters were compared between Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana). Preliminary testing of total calcium, inorganic phosphorus, and creatinine appeared valid for use in plasma and creatinine in urine in both species. Furthermore, measurements of bone alkaline phosphatase and N-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen appeared valid for use in Asian elephants. Mean heparinized plasma ionized calcium concentration and pH were not significantly affected by 3 cycles of freezing and thawing. Storage at 4 °C, room temperature, and 37 °C for 6, 12, and 24 hr did not alter the heparinized plasma ionized calcium concentration in Asian elephants. The following linear regression equation using pH (range: 6.858-7.887) and ionized calcium concentration in heparinized plasma was utilized: iCa(7.4) (mmol/l) = -2.1075 + 0.3130·pH(actual) + 0.8296·iCa(actual) (mmol/l). Mean basal values for pH and plasma in Asian elephant whole blood were 7.40 ± 0.048 and 7.49 ± 0.077, respectively. The urinary specific gravity and creatinine concentrations in both Asian and African elephants were significantly correlated and both were significantly lower in Asian elephants.

  19. Neocortical neuronal morphology in the newborn giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) and African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Jacobs, Bob; Lee, Laura; Schall, Matthew; Raghanti, Mary Ann; Lewandowski, Albert H; Kottwitz, Jack J; Roberts, John F; Hof, Patrick R; Sherwood, Chet C

    2016-02-01

    Although neocortical neuronal morphology has been documented in the adult giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) and African elephant (Loxodonta africana), no research has explored the cortical architecture in newborns of these species. To this end, the current study examined the morphology of neurons from several cortical areas in the newborn giraffe and elephant. After cortical neurons were stained with a modified Golgi technique (N = 153), dendritic branching and spine distributions were analyzed by using computer-assisted morphometry. The results showed that newborn elephant neurons were considerably larger in terms of all dendritic and spine measures than newborn giraffe neurons. Qualitatively, neurons in the newborns appeared morphologically comparable to those in their adult counterparts. Neurons in the newborn elephant differed considerably from those observed in other placental mammals, including the giraffe, particularly with regard to the morphology of spiny projection neurons. Projection neurons were observed in both species, with a much larger variety in the elephant (e.g., flattened pyramidal, nonpyramidal multipolar, and inverted pyramidal neurons). Although local circuit neurons (i.e., interneurons, neurogliaform, Cajal-Retzius neurons) resembled those observed in other eutherian mammals, these were usually spiny, which contrasts with their adult, aspiny equivalents. Newborn projection neurons were smaller than the adult equivalents in both species, but newborn interneurons were approximately the same size as their adult counterparts. Cortical neuromorphology in the newborn giraffe is thus generally consistent with what has been observed in other cetartiodactyls, whereas newborn and adult elephant morphology appears to deviate substantially from what is commonly observed in other placental mammals.

  20. Neocortical neuronal morphology in the newborn giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) and African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Jacobs, Bob; Lee, Laura; Schall, Matthew; Raghanti, Mary Ann; Lewandowski, Albert H; Kottwitz, Jack J; Roberts, John F; Hof, Patrick R; Sherwood, Chet C

    2016-02-01

    Although neocortical neuronal morphology has been documented in the adult giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) and African elephant (Loxodonta africana), no research has explored the cortical architecture in newborns of these species. To this end, the current study examined the morphology of neurons from several cortical areas in the newborn giraffe and elephant. After cortical neurons were stained with a modified Golgi technique (N = 153), dendritic branching and spine distributions were analyzed by using computer-assisted morphometry. The results showed that newborn elephant neurons were considerably larger in terms of all dendritic and spine measures than newborn giraffe neurons. Qualitatively, neurons in the newborns appeared morphologically comparable to those in their adult counterparts. Neurons in the newborn elephant differed considerably from those observed in other placental mammals, including the giraffe, particularly with regard to the morphology of spiny projection neurons. Projection neurons were observed in both species, with a much larger variety in the elephant (e.g., flattened pyramidal, nonpyramidal multipolar, and inverted pyramidal neurons). Although local circuit neurons (i.e., interneurons, neurogliaform, Cajal-Retzius neurons) resembled those observed in other eutherian mammals, these were usually spiny, which contrasts with their adult, aspiny equivalents. Newborn projection neurons were smaller than the adult equivalents in both species, but newborn interneurons were approximately the same size as their adult counterparts. Cortical neuromorphology in the newborn giraffe is thus generally consistent with what has been observed in other cetartiodactyls, whereas newborn and adult elephant morphology appears to deviate substantially from what is commonly observed in other placental mammals. PMID:26104263

  1. Inferring ecological and behavioral drivers of African elephant movement using a linear filtering approach.

    PubMed

    Boettiger, Alistair N; Wittemyer, George; Starfield, Richard; Volrath, Fritz; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Getz, Wayne M

    2011-08-01

    Understanding the environmental factors influencing animal movements is fundamental to theoretical and applied research in the field of movement ecology. Studies relating fine-scale movement paths to spatiotemporally structured landscape data, such as vegetation productivity or human activity, are particularly lacking despite the obvious importance of such information to understanding drivers of animal movement. In part, this may be because few approaches provide the sophistication to characterize the complexity of movement behavior and relate it to diverse, varying environmental stimuli. We overcame this hurdle by applying, for the first time to an ecological question, a finite impulse-response signal-filtering approach to identify human and natural environmental drivers of movements of 13 free-ranging African elephants (Loxodonta africana) from distinct social groups collected over seven years. A minimum mean-square error (MMSE) estimation criterion allowed comparison of the predictive power of landscape and ecological model inputs. We showed that a filter combining vegetation dynamics, human and physical landscape features, and previous movement outperformed simpler filter structures, indicating the importance of both dynamic and static landscape features, as well as habit, on movement decisions taken by elephants. Elephant responses to vegetation productivity indices were not uniform in time or space, indicating that elephant foraging strategies are more complex than simply gravitation toward areas of high productivity. Predictions were most frequently inaccurate outside protected area boundaries near human settlements, suggesting that human activity disrupts typical elephant movement behavior. Successful management strategies at the human-elephant interface, therefore, are likely to be context specific and dynamic. Signal processing provides a promising approach for elucidating environmental factors that drive animal movements over large time and spatial

  2. Evidence that hyperprolactinaemia is associated with ovarian acyclicity in female zoo African elephants.

    PubMed

    Dow, T L; Brown, J L

    2012-01-01

    African elephants of reproductive age in zoos are experiencing high rates of ovarian cycle problems (>40%) and low reproductive success. Previously, our laboratory found that 1/3 of acyclic females exhibit hyperprolactinaemia, a likely cause of ovarian dysfunction. This follow-up study re-examined hyperprolactinaemia in African elephants and found the problem has increased significantly to 71% of acyclic females. Circulating serum progestagens and prolactin were analysed in 31 normal cycling, 13 irregular cycling and 31 acyclic elephants for 12 months. In acyclic females, overall mean prolactin concentrations differed from cycling females (P < 0.05), with concentrations being either higher (n = 22; 54.90 ± 13.31 ngmL(-1)) or lower (n = 9; 6.47 ± 1.73 ngmL(-1)) than normal. No temporal patterns of prolactin secretion were evident in elephants that lacked progestagen cycles. In cycling females, prolactin was secreted in a cyclical manner, with higher concentrations observed during nonluteal (34.38 ± 1.77 and 32.75 ± 2.61 ngmL(-1)) than luteal (10.51 ± 0.30 and 9.67 ± 0.42 ngmL(-1)) phases for normal and irregular females, respectively. Of most concern was that over two-thirds of acyclic females now are hyperprolactinemic, a dramatic increase over that observed 7 years earlier. Furthermore, females of reproductive age constituted 45% of elephants with hyperprolactinaemia. Until the cause of this problem is identified and a treatment is developed, reproductive rates will remain suboptimal and the population nonsustaining.

  3. Detection of Quiescent Infections with Multiple Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses (EEHVs), Including EEHV2, EEHV3, EEHV6, and EEHV7, within Lymphoid Lung Nodules or Lung and Spleen Tissue Samples from Five Asymptomatic Adult African Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Zong, Jian-Chao; Heaggans, Sarah Y.; Long, Simon Y.; Latimer, Erin M.; Nofs, Sally A.; Bronson, Ellen; Casares, Miguel; Fouraker, Michael D.; Pearson, Virginia R.; Richman, Laura K.

    2015-01-01

    ABSTRACT More than 80 cases of lethal hemorrhagic disease associated with elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) have been identified in young Asian elephants worldwide. Diagnostic PCR tests detected six types of EEHV in blood of elephants with acute disease, although EEHV1A is the predominant pathogenic type. Previously, the presence of herpesvirus virions within benign lung and skin nodules from healthy African elephants led to suggestions that African elephants may be the source of EEHV disease in Asian elephants. Here, we used direct PCR-based DNA sequencing to detect EEHV genomes in necropsy tissue from five healthy adult African elephants. Two large lung nodules collected from culled wild South African elephants contained high levels of either EEHV3 alone or both EEHV2 and EEHV3. Similarly, a euthanized U.S. elephant proved to harbor multiple EEHV types distributed nonuniformly across four small lung nodules, including high levels of EEHV6, lower levels of EEHV3 and EEHV2, and a new GC-rich branch type, EEHV7. Several of the same EEHV types were also detected in random lung and spleen samples from two other elephants. Sanger PCR DNA sequence data comprising 100 kb were obtained from a total of 15 different strains identified, with (except for a few hypervariable genes) the EEHV2, EEHV3, and EEHV6 strains all being closely related to known genotypes from cases of acute disease, whereas the seven loci (4.0 kb) obtained from EEHV7 averaged 18% divergence from their nearest relative, EEHV3. Overall, we conclude that these four EEHV species, but probably not EEHV1, occur commonly as quiescent infections in African elephants. IMPORTANCE Acute hemorrhagic disease characterized by high-level viremia due to infection by members of the Proboscivirus genus threatens the future breeding success of endangered Asian elephants worldwide. Although the genomes of six EEHV types from acute cases have been partially or fully characterized, lethal disease predominantly

  4. Development of a body condition scoring index for female African elephants validated by ultrasound measurements of subcutaneous fat.

    PubMed

    Morfeld, Kari A; Lehnhardt, John; Alligood, Christina; Bolling, Jeff; Brown, Janine L

    2014-01-01

    Obesity-related health and reproductive problems may be contributing to non-sustainability of zoo African elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations. However, a major constraint in screening for obesity in elephants is lack of a practical method to accurately assess body fat. Body condition scoring (BCS) is the assessment of subcutaneous fat stores based on visual evaluation and provides an immediate appraisal of the degree of obesity of an individual. The objective of this study was to develop a visual BCS index for female African elephants and validate it using ultrasound measures of subcutaneous fat. To develop the index, standardized photographs were collected from zoo (n = 50) and free-ranging (n = 57) female African elephants for identifying key body regions and skeletal features, which were then used to visually determine body fat deposition patterns. This information was used to develop a visual BCS method consisting of a list of body regions and the physical criteria for assigning an overall score on a 5-point scale, with 1 representing the lowest and 5 representing the highest levels of body fat. Results showed that as BCS increased, ultrasound measures of subcutaneous fat thickness also increased (P<0.01), indicating the scores closely coincide with physical measures of fat reserves. The BCS index proved to be reliable and repeatable based on high intra- and inter-assessor agreement across three assessors. In comparing photographs of wild vs. captive African elephants, the median BCS in the free-ranging individuals (BCS = 3, range 1-5) was lower (P<0.001) than that of the zoo population (BCS = 4, range 2-5). In sum, we have developed the first validated BCS index for African elephants. This tool can be used to examine which factors impact body condition in zoo and free-ranging elephants, providing valuable information on how it affects health and reproductive potential of individual elephants.

  5. Legal ivory trade in a corrupt world and its impact on African elephant populations.

    PubMed

    Bennett, Elizabeth L

    2015-02-01

    Illegal hunting of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) for ivory is causing rapid declines in their populations. Since 2007, illegal ivory trade has more than doubled. African elephants are facing the most serious conservation crisis since 1989, when international trade was banned. One solution proposed is establishment of a controlled legal trade in ivory. High prices for ivory mean that the incentives to obtain large quantities are high, but the quantity of tusks available for trade are biologically constrained. Within that context, effective management of a legal ivory trade would require robust systems to be in place to ensure that ivory from illegally killed elephants cannot be laundered into a legal market. At present, that is not feasible due to corruption among government officials charged with implementing wildlife-related legislation. With organized criminal enterprises involved along the whole commodity chain, corruption enables the laundering of illegal ivory into legal or potentially legal markets. Poachers and traffickers can rapidly pay their way out of trouble, so the financial incentives to break the law heavily outweigh those of abiding by it. Maintaining reliable permitting systems and leak-proof chains of custody in this context is challenging, and effective management breaks down. Once illegal ivory has entered the legal trade, it is difficult or impossible for enforcement officers to know what is legal and illegal. Addressing corruption throughout a trade network that permeates countries across the globe will take decades, if it can ever be achieved. That will be too late for wild African elephants at current rates of loss. If we are to conserve remaining wild populations, we must close all markets because, under current levels of corruption, they cannot be controlled in a way that does not provide opportunities for illegal ivory being laundered into legal markets. PMID:25103555

  6. Legal ivory trade in a corrupt world and its impact on African elephant populations.

    PubMed

    Bennett, Elizabeth L

    2015-02-01

    Illegal hunting of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) for ivory is causing rapid declines in their populations. Since 2007, illegal ivory trade has more than doubled. African elephants are facing the most serious conservation crisis since 1989, when international trade was banned. One solution proposed is establishment of a controlled legal trade in ivory. High prices for ivory mean that the incentives to obtain large quantities are high, but the quantity of tusks available for trade are biologically constrained. Within that context, effective management of a legal ivory trade would require robust systems to be in place to ensure that ivory from illegally killed elephants cannot be laundered into a legal market. At present, that is not feasible due to corruption among government officials charged with implementing wildlife-related legislation. With organized criminal enterprises involved along the whole commodity chain, corruption enables the laundering of illegal ivory into legal or potentially legal markets. Poachers and traffickers can rapidly pay their way out of trouble, so the financial incentives to break the law heavily outweigh those of abiding by it. Maintaining reliable permitting systems and leak-proof chains of custody in this context is challenging, and effective management breaks down. Once illegal ivory has entered the legal trade, it is difficult or impossible for enforcement officers to know what is legal and illegal. Addressing corruption throughout a trade network that permeates countries across the globe will take decades, if it can ever be achieved. That will be too late for wild African elephants at current rates of loss. If we are to conserve remaining wild populations, we must close all markets because, under current levels of corruption, they cannot be controlled in a way that does not provide opportunities for illegal ivory being laundered into legal markets.

  7. Micrometeorological and leaf-level measurements of isoprene emissions from a southern African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harley, Peter; Otter, Luanne; Guenther, Alex; Greenberg, James

    2003-07-01

    In February 2001, as part of the Southern African Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000), isoprene fluxes were measured for 8 days using the relaxed eddy accumulation technique from a 21-m tower in a Combretum-Acacia savanna in Kruger National Park, 13 km from Skukuza, RSA. Despite warm and sunny conditions, midday isoprene concentrations were low, averaging 0.39 nL/L. Fluxes of isoprene increased through the morning hours, with midday fluxes averaging 0.34 mg m-2 h-1 and a maximum measured flux of approximately 1.0 mg m-2 h-1. Consistent with these low fluxes, leaf enclosure measurements of woody species within the tower footprint determined that only one isoprene-emitting species, Acacia nigrescens, was present in significant numbers, comprising less than 10% of the woody biomass. Combining enclosure data with species composition and leaf area index data from the site, we estimated that the isoprene emission capacity of the vegetation within the vicinity of the tower was very low, approximately 0.47 mg m-2 h-1, and patchy. Under these circumstances, low and variable fluxes are expected. Additional leaf enclosure measurements, for a total of 121 species, were made at other locations, and approximately 35% of the species was found to emit significant amounts of isoprene. Important isoprene emitting plant families included Caesalpinaceae, Mimosaceae, Papilionaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Moraceae, and Myrtaceae. Twelve members of the important savanna genus Acacia were measured, of which five species, all belonging in Subgenus Aculeiferum, Section Aculeiferum, were found to emit significant amounts of isoprene. In contrast, the plant family, Combretaceae, dominant in many savanna ecosystems, was found to contain no species which emit isoprene.

  8. Automatic type classification and speaker identification of african elephant (Loxodonta africana) vocalizations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clemins, Patrick J.; Johnson, Michael T.

    2003-04-01

    This paper presents a system for automatically classifying African elephant vocalizations based on systems used for human speech recognition and speaker identification. The experiments are performed on vocalizations collected from captive elephants in a naturalistic environment. Features used for classification include Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients (MFCCs) and log energy which are the most common features used in human speech processing. Since African elephants use lower frequencies than humans in their vocalizations, the MFCCs are computed using a shifted Mel-Frequency filter bank to emphasize the infrasound range of the frequency spectrum. In addition to these features, the use of less traditional features such as those based on fundamental frequency and the phase of the frequency spectrum is also considered. A Hidden Markov Model with Gaussian mixture state probabilities is used to model each type of vocalization. Vocalizations are classified based on type, speaker and estrous cycle. Experiments on continuous call type recognition, which can classify multiple vocalizations in the same utterance, are also performed. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a universal analysis framework and robust feature set for animal vocalizations that can be applied to many species.

  9. Physical, physiological, and behavioral correlates of musth in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Ganswindt, Andre; Heistermann, Michael; Hodges, Keith

    2005-01-01

    Although musth in male African elephants (Loxodonta africana) is known to be associated with increased aggressiveness, urine dribbling (UD), temporal gland secretion (TGS), and elevated androgens, the temporal relationship between these changes has not been examined. Here, we describe the pattern of musth-related characteristics in 14 captive elephant bulls by combining long-term observations of physical and behavioral changes with physiological data on testicular and adrenal function. The length of musth periods was highly variable but according to our data set not related to age. Our data also confirm that musth is associated with elevated androgens and, in this respect, show that TGS and UD are downstream effects of this elevation, with TGS responding earlier and to lower androgen levels than UD. Because the majority of musth periods were associated with a decrease in glucocorticoid levels, our data also indicate that musth does not represent a physiological stress mediated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the occurrence of musth is associated with increased aggression and that this is presumably androgen mediated because aggressive males had higher androgen levels. Collectively, the information generated contributes to a better understanding of what characterizes and initiates musth in captive African elephants and provides a basis for further studies designed to examine in more detail the factors regulating the intensity and duration of musth.

  10. Comparative cytogenetics of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Houck, M L; Kumamoto, A T; Gallagher, D S; Benirschke, K

    2001-01-01

    G- and C-banded karyotypes of the two extant species of the mammalian order Proboscidea are presented for the first time. Chromosome complements were 2n = 56 in both Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus. Comparisons between the species demonstrated a high level of chromosome band homology, with 26 conserved autosomal pairs. The normal diploid karyotype of L. africana had 25 acrocentric/telocentric and two metacentric/submetacentric autosomal pairs. E. maximus differed by having one less acrocentric and one additional submetacentric pair due to either a heterochromatic arm addition or deletion involving autosomal pair 27. Several acrocentric autosomes of L. africana exhibited small short arms that were absent in homologous chromosomes of E. maximus. The X chromosomes in both species were large submetacentric elements and were homologous. However, the small acrocentric Y chromosomes differed; in E. maximus it was slightly larger and had more distinct G-bands than its counterpart in L. africana. Extant Elephantidae appear to be relatively conservative in their rates of chromosomal change compared to some other mammalian families. The high-quality banded karyotypes presented here should prove useful as references in future chromosome analyses of elephant populations and in comparative cytogenetic studies with other ungulate orders.

  11. Simultaneous modeling of habitat suitability, occupancy, and relative abundance: African elephants in Zimbabwe

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Martin, Julien; Chamaille-Jammes, Simon; Nichols, James D.; Fritz, Herve; Hines, James E.; Fonnesbeck, Christopher J.; MacKenzie, Darryl I.; Bailey, Larissa L.

    2010-01-01

    The recent development of statistical models such as dynamic site occupancy models provides the opportunity to address fairly complex management and conservation problems with relatively simple models. However, surprisingly few empirical studies have simultaneously modeled habitat suitability and occupancy status of organisms over large landscapes for management purposes. Joint modeling of these components is particularly important in the context of management of wild populations, as it provides a more coherent framework to investigate the population dynamics of organisms in space and time for the application of management decision tools. We applied such an approach to the study of water hole use by African elephants in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Here we show how such methodology may be implemented and derive estimates of annual transition probabilities among three dry-season states for water holes: (1) unsuitable state (dry water holes with no elephants); (2) suitable state (water hole with water) with low abundance of elephants; and (3) suitable state with high abundance of elephants. We found that annual rainfall and the number of neighboring water holes influenced the transition probabilities among these three states. Because of an increase in elephant densities in the park during the study period, we also found that transition probabilities from low abundance to high abundance states increased over time. The application of the joint habitat–occupancy models provides a coherent framework to examine how habitat suitability and factors that affect habitat suitability influence the distribution and abundance of organisms. We discuss how these simple models can further be used to apply structured decision-making tools in order to derive decisions that are optimal relative to specified management objectives. The modeling framework presented in this paper should be applicable to a wide range of existing data sets and should help to address important ecological

  12. Automatic classification and speaker identification of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) vocalizations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clemins, Patrick J.; Johnson, Michael T.; Leong, Kirsten M.; Savage, Anne

    2005-02-01

    A hidden Markov model (HMM) system is presented for automatically classifying African elephant vocalizations. The development of the system is motivated by successful models from human speech analysis and recognition. Classification features include frequency-shifted Mel-frequency cepstral coefficients (MFCCs) and log energy, spectrally motivated features which are commonly used in human speech processing. Experiments, including vocalization type classification and speaker identification, are performed on vocalizations collected from captive elephants in a naturalistic environment. The system classified vocalizations with accuracies of 94.3% and 82.5% for type classification and speaker identification classification experiments, respectively. Classification accuracy, statistical significance tests on the model parameters, and qualitative analysis support the effectiveness and robustness of this approach for vocalization analysis in nonhuman species. .

  13. Genetic connectivity across marginal habitats: the elephants of the Namib Desert.

    PubMed

    Ishida, Yasuko; Van Coeverden de Groot, Peter J; Leggett, Keith E A; Putnam, Andrea S; Fox, Virginia E; Lai, Jesse; Boag, Peter T; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L

    2016-09-01

    Locally isolated populations in marginal habitats may be genetically distinctive and of heightened conservation concern. Elephants inhabiting the Namib Desert have been reported to show distinctive behavioral and phenotypic adaptations in that severely arid environment. The genetic distinctiveness of Namibian desert elephants relative to other African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations has not been established. To investigate the genetic structure of elephants in Namibia, we determined the mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region sequences and genotyped 17 microsatellite loci in desert elephants (n = 8) from the Hoanib River catchment and the Hoarusib River catchment. We compared these to the genotypes of elephants (n = 77) from other localities in Namibia. The mtDNA haplotype sequences and frequencies among desert elephants were similar to those of elephants in Etosha National Park, the Huab River catchment, the Ugab River catchment, and central Kunene, although the geographically distant Caprivi Strip had different mtDNA haplotypes. Likewise, analysis of the microsatellite genotypes of desert-dwelling elephants revealed that they were not genetically distinctive from Etosha elephants, and there was no evidence for isolation by distance across the Etosha region. These results, and a review of the historical record, suggest that a high learning capacity and long-distance migrations allowed Namibian elephants to regularly shift their ranges to survive in the face of high variability in climate and in hunting pressure. PMID:27648236

  14. Genetic connectivity across marginal habitats: the elephants of the Namib Desert.

    PubMed

    Ishida, Yasuko; Van Coeverden de Groot, Peter J; Leggett, Keith E A; Putnam, Andrea S; Fox, Virginia E; Lai, Jesse; Boag, Peter T; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L

    2016-09-01

    Locally isolated populations in marginal habitats may be genetically distinctive and of heightened conservation concern. Elephants inhabiting the Namib Desert have been reported to show distinctive behavioral and phenotypic adaptations in that severely arid environment. The genetic distinctiveness of Namibian desert elephants relative to other African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations has not been established. To investigate the genetic structure of elephants in Namibia, we determined the mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region sequences and genotyped 17 microsatellite loci in desert elephants (n = 8) from the Hoanib River catchment and the Hoarusib River catchment. We compared these to the genotypes of elephants (n = 77) from other localities in Namibia. The mtDNA haplotype sequences and frequencies among desert elephants were similar to those of elephants in Etosha National Park, the Huab River catchment, the Ugab River catchment, and central Kunene, although the geographically distant Caprivi Strip had different mtDNA haplotypes. Likewise, analysis of the microsatellite genotypes of desert-dwelling elephants revealed that they were not genetically distinctive from Etosha elephants, and there was no evidence for isolation by distance across the Etosha region. These results, and a review of the historical record, suggest that a high learning capacity and long-distance migrations allowed Namibian elephants to regularly shift their ranges to survive in the face of high variability in climate and in hunting pressure.

  15. Genetic relatedness and disrupted social structure in a poached population of African elephants.

    PubMed

    Gobush, Kathleen; Kerr, Ben; Wasser, Samuel

    2009-02-01

    We use genetic measures of relatedness and observations of female bonding to examine the demographic signature of historically heavy poaching of a population of free-ranging African elephants. We collected dung samples to obtain DNA and observed behaviour from 102 elephant families over a 25-month period in 2003-2005 in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. Poaching reduced the population by 75% in the decade prior to the 1989 ivory trade ban; park records indicate that poaching dropped significantly in Mikumi following the ban. Using 10 microsatellite loci, DNA was genotyped in 203 elephants and pair-wise relatedness was calculated among adult females within and between groups. The Mikumi population is characterized by small group size, considerable variation in group relatedness, females with no first-order adult relatives and females that form only weak social bonds. We used gene-drop analysis and a model of a genetically intact pedigree to compare our observed Mikumi group relatedness to a simulated genetically intact unpoached expectation. The majority of groups in Mikumi contain 2 to 3 adults; of these, 45% were classified as genetically disrupted. Bonding, quantified with a pair-wise association index, was significantly correlated with relatedness; however only half of the females formed strong bonds with other females, and relatedness was substantially lower for a given bond strength as compared to an unpoached population. Female African elephants without kin demonstrated considerable behavioural plasticity in this disturbed environment, grouping with other females lacking kin, with established groups, or remaining alone, unable to form any stable adult female-bonds. We interpret these findings as the remaining effect of poaching disturbance in Mikumi, despite a drop in the level of poaching since the commercial trade in ivory was banned 15 years ago.

  16. Genetic relatedness and disrupted social structure in a poached population of African elephants.

    PubMed

    Gobush, Kathleen; Kerr, Ben; Wasser, Samuel

    2009-02-01

    We use genetic measures of relatedness and observations of female bonding to examine the demographic signature of historically heavy poaching of a population of free-ranging African elephants. We collected dung samples to obtain DNA and observed behaviour from 102 elephant families over a 25-month period in 2003-2005 in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. Poaching reduced the population by 75% in the decade prior to the 1989 ivory trade ban; park records indicate that poaching dropped significantly in Mikumi following the ban. Using 10 microsatellite loci, DNA was genotyped in 203 elephants and pair-wise relatedness was calculated among adult females within and between groups. The Mikumi population is characterized by small group size, considerable variation in group relatedness, females with no first-order adult relatives and females that form only weak social bonds. We used gene-drop analysis and a model of a genetically intact pedigree to compare our observed Mikumi group relatedness to a simulated genetically intact unpoached expectation. The majority of groups in Mikumi contain 2 to 3 adults; of these, 45% were classified as genetically disrupted. Bonding, quantified with a pair-wise association index, was significantly correlated with relatedness; however only half of the females formed strong bonds with other females, and relatedness was substantially lower for a given bond strength as compared to an unpoached population. Female African elephants without kin demonstrated considerable behavioural plasticity in this disturbed environment, grouping with other females lacking kin, with established groups, or remaining alone, unable to form any stable adult female-bonds. We interpret these findings as the remaining effect of poaching disturbance in Mikumi, despite a drop in the level of poaching since the commercial trade in ivory was banned 15 years ago. PMID:19175507

  17. Nutrient vectors and riparian nutrient processing in African semiarid savanna ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jacobs, Shayne M.; Bechtold, J.S.; Biggs, Harry C.; Grimm, N. B.; McClain, M.E.; Naiman, R.J.; Perakis, Steven S.; Pinay, G.; Scholes, M.C.

    2007-01-01

    This review article describes vectors for nitrogen and phosphorus delivery to riparian zones in semiarid African savannas, the processing of nutrients in the riparian zone and the effect of disturbance on these processes. Semiarid savannas exhibit sharp seasonality, complex hillslope hydrology and high spatial heterogeneity, all of which ultimately impact nutrient fluxes between riparian, upland and aquatic environments. Our review shows that strong environmental drivers such as fire and herbivory enhance nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment transport to lower slope positions by shaping vegetative patterns. These vectors differ significantly from other arid and semiarid ecosystems, and from mesic ecosystems where the impact of fire and herbivory are less pronounced and less predictable. Also unique is the presence of sodic soils in certain hillslopes, which substantially alters hydrological flowpaths and may act as a trap where nitrogen is immobilized while sediment and phosphorus transport is enhanced. Nutrients and sediments are also deposited in the riparian zone during seasonal, intermittent floods while, during the dry season, subsurface movement of water from the stream into riparian soils and vegetation further enrich riparian zones with nutrients. As is found in mesic ecosystems, nutrients are immobilized in semiarid riparian corridors through microbial and plant uptake, whereas dissimilatory processes such as denitrification may be important where labile nitrogen and carbon are in adequate supply and physical conditions are suitablea??such as in seeps, wallows created by animals, ephemeral wetlands and stream edges. Interaction between temporal hydrologic connectivity and spatial heterogeneity are disrupted by disturbances such as large floods and extended droughts, which may convert certain riparian patches from sinks to sources for nitrogen and phosphorus. In the face of increasing anthropogenic pressure, the scientific challenges are to provide a basic

  18. Recumbence Behavior in Zoo Elephants: Determination of Patterns and Frequency of Recumbent Rest and Associated Environmental and Social Factors.

    PubMed

    Holdgate, Matthew R; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Miller, Lance J; Rushen, Jeff; de Passillé, Anne Marie; Soltis, Joseph; Andrews, Jeff; Shepherdson, David J

    2016-01-01

    Resting behaviors are an essential component of animal welfare but have received little attention in zoological research. African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) rest includes recumbent postures, but no large-scale investigation of African and Asian zoo elephant recumbence has been previously conducted. We used anklets equipped with accelerometers to measure recumbence in 72 adult female African (n = 44) and Asian (n = 28) elephants housed in 40 North American zoos. We collected 344 days of data and determined associations between recumbence and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. African elephants were recumbent less (2.1 hours/day, S.D. = 1.1) than Asian elephants (3.2 hours/day, S.D. = 1.5; P < 0.001). Nearly one-third of elephants were non-recumbent on at least one night, suggesting this is a common behavior. Multi-variable regression models for each species showed that substrate, space, and social variables had the strongest associations with recumbence. In the African model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-hard substrate were recumbent 0.6 hours less per day than those who were never on all-hard substrate, and elephants who experienced an additional acre of outdoor space at night increased their recumbence by 0.48 hours per day. In the Asian model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-soft substrate were recumbent 1.1 hours more per day more than those who were never on all-soft substrate, and elephants who spent any amount of time housed alone were recumbent 0.77 hours more per day than elephants who were never housed alone. Our results draw attention to the significant interspecific difference in the amount of recumbent rest and in the factors affecting recumbence; however, in both species, the influence of flooring substrate is notably important to recumbent rest, and by extension, zoo elephant welfare.

  19. Projections of 21st Century African Climate: Implications for African Savanna Fire Dynamics, Human Health and Food Security

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adegoke, J. O.

    2015-12-01

    Fire is a key agent of change in the African savannas, which are shaped through the complex interactions between trees, C4 grasses, rainfall, temperature, CO2 and fire. These fires and their emitted smoke can have numerous direct and indirect effects on the environment, water resources, air quality, and climate. For instance, veld fires in southern Africa cause large financial losses to agriculture, livestock production and forestry on an annual basis. This study contributes to our understanding of the implications of projected surface temperature evolution in Africa for fire risk, human health and agriculture over the coming decades. We use an ensemble of high-resolution regional climate model simulations of African climate for the 21st century. Regional dowscalings and recent global circulation model projections obtained for Africa indicate that African temperatures are likely to rise at 1.5 times the global rate of temperature increase in the tropics, and at almost twice the global rate of increase in the subtropics. Warming is projected to occur during the 21st century, with increases of 4-6 °C over the subtropics and 3-5 °C over the tropics plausible by the end of the century relative to present-day climate under the A2 (low mitigation) scenario. We explore the significance of the projected warming by documenting increases in projected high fire danger days and heat-wave days. General drying is projected across the continent, even for areas (e.g. tropical Africa) where an increase in rainfall is plausible. This is due to the drastic increases in temperature that are projected, which leads to drier soils (through enhanced evaporation) despite the rainfall increases. This will likely impact negatively on crop yield, particularly on the maize crop that is of crucial importance in terms of African food security.

  20. Environmental conditions associated with repetitive behavior in a group of African elephants.

    PubMed

    Hasenjager, Matthew J; Bergl, Richard A

    2015-01-01

    Repetitive movement patterns are commonly observed in zoo elephants. The extent to which these behaviors constitute a welfare concern varies, as their expression ranges from stereotypies to potentially beneficial anticipatory behaviors. Nevertheless, their occurrence in zoo animals is often viewed negatively. To better identify conditions that prompt their performance, observations were conducted on six African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the North Carolina Zoo. Individuals spent most of their time engaged in feeding, locomotion, resting, and repetitive behavior. Both generalized estimating equation and zero-inflated negative binomial models were used to identify factors associated with increased rates of repetitive behavior. Time of day in conjunction with location on- or off-exhibit best explained patterns of repetitive behavior. Repetitive behaviors occurred at a lower rate in the morning when on-exhibit, as compared to afternoons on-exhibit or at any time of day off-exhibit. Increased repetitive behavior rates observed on-exhibit in the afternoon prior to the evening transfer and feeding were possibly anticipatory responses towards those events. In contrast, consistently elevated frequencies of repetitive behavior off-exhibit at all times of day could be related to differences in exhibit complexity between off-exhibit and on-exhibit areas, as well as a lack of additional foraging opportunities. Our study contributes valuable information on captive elephant behavior and represents a good example of how behavioral research can be employed to improve management of zoo animals.

  1. A preliminary analysis of the immunoglobulin genes in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Guo, Yongchen; Bao, Yonghua; Wang, Hui; Hu, Xiaoxiang; Zhao, Zhihui; Li, Ning; Zhao, Yaofeng

    2011-02-25

    The genomic organization of the IgH (Immunoglobulin heavy chain), Igκ (Immunoglobulin kappa chain), and Igλ (Immunoglobulin lambda chain) loci in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) was annotated using available genome data. The elephant IgH locus on scaffold 57 spans over 2,974 kb, and consists of at least 112 V(H) gene segments, 87 D(H) gene segments (the largest number in mammals examined so far), six J(H) gene segments, a single μ, a δ remnant, and eight γ genes (α and ε genes are missing, most likely due to sequence gaps). The Igκ locus, found on three scaffolds (202, 50 and 86), contains a total of 153 V(κ) gene segments, three J(κ) segments, and a single C(κ) gene. Two different transcriptional orientations were determined for these V(κ) gene segments. In contrast, the Igλ locus on scaffold 68 includes 15 V(λ) gene segments, all with the same transcriptional polarity as the downstream J(λ)-C(λ) cluster. These data suggest that the elephant immunoglobulin gene repertoire is highly diverse and complex. Our results provide insights into the immunoglobulin genes in a placental mammal that is evolutionarily distant from humans, mice, and domestic animals.

  2. Environmental conditions associated with repetitive behavior in a group of African elephants.

    PubMed

    Hasenjager, Matthew J; Bergl, Richard A

    2015-01-01

    Repetitive movement patterns are commonly observed in zoo elephants. The extent to which these behaviors constitute a welfare concern varies, as their expression ranges from stereotypies to potentially beneficial anticipatory behaviors. Nevertheless, their occurrence in zoo animals is often viewed negatively. To better identify conditions that prompt their performance, observations were conducted on six African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the North Carolina Zoo. Individuals spent most of their time engaged in feeding, locomotion, resting, and repetitive behavior. Both generalized estimating equation and zero-inflated negative binomial models were used to identify factors associated with increased rates of repetitive behavior. Time of day in conjunction with location on- or off-exhibit best explained patterns of repetitive behavior. Repetitive behaviors occurred at a lower rate in the morning when on-exhibit, as compared to afternoons on-exhibit or at any time of day off-exhibit. Increased repetitive behavior rates observed on-exhibit in the afternoon prior to the evening transfer and feeding were possibly anticipatory responses towards those events. In contrast, consistently elevated frequencies of repetitive behavior off-exhibit at all times of day could be related to differences in exhibit complexity between off-exhibit and on-exhibit areas, as well as a lack of additional foraging opportunities. Our study contributes valuable information on captive elephant behavior and represents a good example of how behavioral research can be employed to improve management of zoo animals. PMID:25919392

  3. Fuel moisture content estimation: a land-surface modelling approach applied to African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ghent, D.; Spessa, A.; Kaduk, J.; Balzter, H.

    2009-04-01

    Despite the importance of fire to the global climate system, in terms of emissions from biomass burning, ecosystem structure and function, and changes to surface albedo, current land-surface models do not adequately estimate key variables affecting fire ignition and propagation. Fuel moisture content (FMC) is considered one of the most important of these variables (Chuvieco et al., 2004). Biophysical models, with appropriate plant functional type parameterisations, are the most viable option to adequately predict FMC over continental scales at high temporal resolution. However, the complexity of plant-water interactions, and the variability associated with short-term climate changes, means it is one of the most difficult fire variables to quantify and predict. Our work attempts to resolve this issue using a combination of satellite data and biophysical modelling applied to Africa. The approach we take is to represent live FMC as a surface dryness index; expressed as the ratio between the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and land-surface temperature (LST). It has been argued in previous studies (Sandholt et al., 2002; Snyder et al., 2006), that this ratio displays a statistically stronger correlation to FMC than either of the variables, considered separately. In this study, simulated FMC is constrained through the assimilation of remotely sensed LST and NDVI data into the land-surface model JULES (Joint-UK Land Environment Simulator). Previous modelling studies of fire activity in Africa savannas, such as Lehsten et al. (2008), have reported significant levels of uncertainty associated with the simulations. This uncertainty is important because African savannas are among some of the most frequently burnt ecosystems and are a major source of greenhouse trace gases and aerosol emissions (Scholes et al., 1996). Furthermore, regional climate model studies indicate that many parts of the African savannas will experience drier and warmer conditions in future

  4. The secretory pattern and source of immunoreactive prolactin in pregnant African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants.

    PubMed

    Yamamoto, Yuki; Yamamoto, Tatsuya; Yuto, Natsuki; Hildebrandt, Thomas B; Lueders, Imke; Wibbelt, Gudrun; Shiina, Osamu; Mouri, Yasushi; Sugimura, Keisuke; Sakamoto, Sayuri; Kaewmanee, Saroch; Nagaoka, Kentaro; Watanabe, Gen; Taya, Kazuyoshi

    2012-01-01

    The objective of the present study was to define the secretion of prolactin (PRL) in pregnant African and Asian elephants. Levels of immunoreactive (ir-) PRL in serum and placental homogenates were measured by a heterologous radioimmunoassay (RIA) based on an ovine and human RIA system, and the localization of ir-PRL in the placenta was detected by immunohistochemistry using anti-human PRL. Circulating ir-PRL clearly showed a biphasic pattern during pregnancy in African and Asian elephants. Serum levels of ir-PRL started to increase from the 4 - 6th month of gestation and reached the first peak level around the 11-14th month. A second peak of circulating ir-PRL levels was observed around the 18-20th month of gestation followed by an abrupt decline after parturition. In contrast, in a case of abortion of an African elephant, the second peak of ir-PRL was not observed, and the levels remained low for about four months until parturition. The weight of the fetus delivered at the 17th month of gestation was 23.5 kg, which was quite small compared with normal fetuses in previous reports. Ir-PRL was detected in placental homogenates, and immunolocalization was observed in trophoblasts in both the African and Asian elephants, indicating that the placenta is the source of ir-PRL during pregnancy in elephants. The present results clearly demonstrated that circulating ir-PRL shows a biphasic pattern during normal pregnancy and that the placenta appears to be an important source of circulating ir-PRL during pregnancy in both African and Asian elephants.

  5. Developmental milestones among African elephant calves on their first day of life.

    PubMed

    Bercovitch, Fred B; Andrews, Jeff

    2010-01-01

    A recurrent issue confronted by zoos is the extent to which animals living ex situ have life history profiles representative of those living in situ. The lengthy lifespan of African elephants hinders collecting proper comparative data, but enough information has been published to conduct preliminary analyses comparing the developmental profile of zoo and wild African elephants on their first day of life. We show that calves born in a zoo stand and walk on their own for the first time at the same age as those born in the wild. Calves born in the zoo take a little longer until first successful nursing, but the difference in age between wild and zoo is not statistically significant. Male and female calves born in zoos develop at the same pace, with data insufficient to compare with wild-born calves. We conclude maternal parity has an effect on the age of first nursing, but not on first standing or walking, because the initiation of suckling requires coordination between two animals. We suggest that available evidence indicates that calves born in the wild and in zoos develop at comparable rates.

  6. A Comparison of Walking Rates Between Wild and Zoo African Elephants.

    PubMed

    Miller, Lance J; Chase, Michael J; Hacker, Charlotte E

    2016-01-01

    With increased scrutiny surrounding the welfare of elephants in zoological institutions, it is important to have empirical evidence on their current welfare status. If elephants are not receiving adequate exercise, it could lead to obesity, which can lead to many issues including acyclicity and potentially heart disease. The goal of the current study was to compare the walking rates of elephants in the wild versus elephants in zoos to determine if elephants are walking similar distances relative to their wild counterparts. Eleven wild elephants throughout different habitats and locations in Botswana were compared to 8 elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Direct comparisons revealed no significant difference in average walking rates of zoo elephants when compared with wild elephants. These results suggest that elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park walk similar rates to those of wild elephants and may be meeting their exercise needs.

  7. A Comparison of Walking Rates Between Wild and Zoo African Elephants.

    PubMed

    Miller, Lance J; Chase, Michael J; Hacker, Charlotte E

    2016-01-01

    With increased scrutiny surrounding the welfare of elephants in zoological institutions, it is important to have empirical evidence on their current welfare status. If elephants are not receiving adequate exercise, it could lead to obesity, which can lead to many issues including acyclicity and potentially heart disease. The goal of the current study was to compare the walking rates of elephants in the wild versus elephants in zoos to determine if elephants are walking similar distances relative to their wild counterparts. Eleven wild elephants throughout different habitats and locations in Botswana were compared to 8 elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Direct comparisons revealed no significant difference in average walking rates of zoo elephants when compared with wild elephants. These results suggest that elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park walk similar rates to those of wild elephants and may be meeting their exercise needs. PMID:26963741

  8. Drivers of Intensity and Prevalence of Flea Parasitism on Small Mammals in East African Savanna Ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Young, Hillary S; Dirzo, Rodolfo; McCauley, Douglas J; Agwanda, Bernard; Cattaneo, Lia; Dittmar, Katharina; Eckerlin, Ralph P; Fleischer, Robert C; Helgen, Lauren E; Hintz, Ashley; Montinieri, John; Zhao, Serena; Helgen, Kristofer M

    2015-06-01

    The relative importance of environmental factors and host factors in explaining variation in prevalence and intensity of flea parasitism in small mammal communities is poorly established. We examined these relationships in an East African savanna landscape, considering multiple host levels: across individuals within a local population, across populations within species, and across species within a landscape. We sampled fleas from 2,672 small mammals of 27 species. This included a total of 8,283 fleas, with 5 genera and 12 species identified. Across individual hosts within a site, both rodent body mass and season affected total intensity of flea infestation, although the explanatory power of these factors was generally modest (<10%). Across host populations in the landscape, we found consistently positive effects of host density and negative effects of vegetation cover on the intensity of flea infestation. Other factors explored (host diversity, annual rainfall, anthropogenic disturbance, and soil properties) tended to have lower and less consistent explanatory power. Across host species in the landscape, we found that host body mass was strongly positively correlated with both prevalence and intensity of flea parasitism, while average robustness of a host species to disturbance was not correlated with flea parasitism. Cumulatively, these results provide insight into the intricate roles of both host and environmental factors in explaining complex patterns of flea parasitism across landscape mosaics.

  9. Herbaceous Forage and Selection Patterns by Ungulates across Varying Herbivore Assemblages in a South African Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Treydte, Anna Christina; Baumgartner, Sabine; Heitkönig, Ignas M. A.; Grant, Catharina C.; Getz, Wayne M.

    2013-01-01

    Herbivores generally have strong structural and compositional effects on vegetation, which in turn determines the plant forage species available. We investigated how selected large mammalian herbivore assemblages use and alter herbaceous vegetation structure and composition in a southern African savanna in and adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We compared mixed and mono-specific herbivore assemblages of varying density and investigated similarities in vegetation patterns under wildlife and livestock herbivory. Grass species composition differed significantly, standing biomass and grass height were almost twice as high at sites of low density compared to high density mixed wildlife species. Selection of various grass species by herbivores was positively correlated with greenness, nutrient content and palatability. Nutrient-rich Urochloa mosambicensis Hack. and Panicum maximum Jacq. grasses were preferred forage species, which significantly differed in abundance across sites of varying grazing pressure. Green grasses growing beneath trees were grazed more frequently than dry grasses growing in the open. Our results indicate that grazing herbivores appear to base their grass species preferences on nutrient content cues and that a characteristic grass species abundance and herb layer structure can be matched with mammalian herbivory types. PMID:24358228

  10. Uncovering cryptic species diversity of a termite community in a West African savanna.

    PubMed

    Hausberger, Barbara; Kimpel, Dorothea; van Neer, Abbo; Korb, Judith

    2011-12-01

    To uncover the termite species diversity of a natural African savanna ecosystem, we combined morphological analyses and sequencing of three gene fragments (cytochrome oxidase I, cytochrome oxidase II and 28SrDNA, total length about 2450 bp) to infer putative species from phylogenetic trees. We identified 18 putative species clusters with high support values and which we retrieved consistently. Samples from two genera (Ancistrotermes and Microcerotermes) were excluded from the mitochondrial phylogenetic analyses as they might represent nuclear mitochondrial sequences (NUMTs). In total, our data suggest a species richness of at least 20 species, all but one belonging to the Termitidae (higher termites), and among them the fungus-growing Macrotermitinae were most prevalent with at least nine putative species. Within the fungus-growers the most species-rich genus was Microtermes and its four putative species were all cryptic species. Their abundance in the samples suggests that they play an important ecological role which is completely unstudied also due to the lack of reliable identification means. Our study shows that morphological traits are unreliable means of species identification for several termite taxa. Yet reliable and consistent identification is necessary for studying the functional role of termites in ecosystem and global processes.

  11. Herbaceous forage and selection patterns by ungulates across varying herbivore assemblages in a South African Savanna.

    PubMed

    Treydte, Anna Christina; Baumgartner, Sabine; Heitkönig, Ignas M A; Grant, Catharina C; Getz, Wayne M

    2013-01-01

    Herbivores generally have strong structural and compositional effects on vegetation, which in turn determines the plant forage species available. We investigated how selected large mammalian herbivore assemblages use and alter herbaceous vegetation structure and composition in a southern African savanna in and adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We compared mixed and mono-specific herbivore assemblages of varying density and investigated similarities in vegetation patterns under wildlife and livestock herbivory. Grass species composition differed significantly, standing biomass and grass height were almost twice as high at sites of low density compared to high density mixed wildlife species. Selection of various grass species by herbivores was positively correlated with greenness, nutrient content and palatability. Nutrient-rich Urochloa mosambicensis Hack. and Panicum maximum Jacq. grasses were preferred forage species, which significantly differed in abundance across sites of varying grazing pressure. Green grasses growing beneath trees were grazed more frequently than dry grasses growing in the open. Our results indicate that grazing herbivores appear to base their grass species preferences on nutrient content cues and that a characteristic grass species abundance and herb layer structure can be matched with mammalian herbivory types.

  12. Forest elephant mitochondrial genomes reveal that elephantid diversification in Africa tracked climate transitions.

    PubMed

    Brandt, Adam L; Ishida, Yasuko; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L

    2012-03-01

    Among elephants, the phylogeographic patterns of mitochondrial (mt) and nuclear markers are often incongruent. One hypothesis attributes this to sex differences in dispersal and in the variance of reproductive success. We tested this hypothesis by examining the coalescent dates of genetic markers within elephantid lineages, predicting that lower dispersal and lower variance in reproductive success among females would have increased mtDNA relative to nuclear coalescent dates. We sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of two forest elephants, aligning them to mitogenomes of African savanna and Asian elephants, and of woolly mammoths, including the most divergent mitogenomes within each lineage. Using fossil calibrations, the divergence between African elephant F and S clade mitochondrial genomes (originating in forest and savanna elephant lineages, respectively) was estimated as 5.5 Ma. We estimated that the (African) ancestor of the mammoth and Asian elephant lineages diverged 6.0 Ma, indicating that four elephantid lineages had differentiated in Africa by the Miocene-Pliocene transition, concurrent with drier climates. The coalescent date for forest elephant mtDNAs was c. 2.4 Ma, suggesting that the decrease in tropical forest cover during the Pleistocene isolated distinct African forest elephant lineages. For all elephantid lineages, the ratio of mtDNA to nuclear coalescent dates was much greater than 0.25. This is consistent with the expectation that sex differences in dispersal and in variance of reproductive success would have increased the effective population size of mtDNA relative to nuclear markers in elephantids, contributing to the persistence of incongruent mtDNA phylogeographic patterns.

  13. Forest elephant mitochondrial genomes reveal that elephantid diversification in Africa tracked climate transitions.

    PubMed

    Brandt, Adam L; Ishida, Yasuko; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L

    2012-03-01

    Among elephants, the phylogeographic patterns of mitochondrial (mt) and nuclear markers are often incongruent. One hypothesis attributes this to sex differences in dispersal and in the variance of reproductive success. We tested this hypothesis by examining the coalescent dates of genetic markers within elephantid lineages, predicting that lower dispersal and lower variance in reproductive success among females would have increased mtDNA relative to nuclear coalescent dates. We sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of two forest elephants, aligning them to mitogenomes of African savanna and Asian elephants, and of woolly mammoths, including the most divergent mitogenomes within each lineage. Using fossil calibrations, the divergence between African elephant F and S clade mitochondrial genomes (originating in forest and savanna elephant lineages, respectively) was estimated as 5.5 Ma. We estimated that the (African) ancestor of the mammoth and Asian elephant lineages diverged 6.0 Ma, indicating that four elephantid lineages had differentiated in Africa by the Miocene-Pliocene transition, concurrent with drier climates. The coalescent date for forest elephant mtDNAs was c. 2.4 Ma, suggesting that the decrease in tropical forest cover during the Pleistocene isolated distinct African forest elephant lineages. For all elephantid lineages, the ratio of mtDNA to nuclear coalescent dates was much greater than 0.25. This is consistent with the expectation that sex differences in dispersal and in variance of reproductive success would have increased the effective population size of mtDNA relative to nuclear markers in elephantids, contributing to the persistence of incongruent mtDNA phylogeographic patterns. PMID:22260276

  14. An outbreak of encephalomyocarditis-virus infection in free-ranging African elephants in the Kruger National Park.

    PubMed

    Grobler, D G; Raath, J P; Braack, L E; Keet, D F; Gerdes, G H; Barnard, B J; Kriek, N P; Jardine, J; Swanepoel, R

    1995-06-01

    A cluster of four deaths in late December 1993, marked the onset of an outbreak of disease of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa, which has an estimated population of 7,500 elephants. Mortalities peaked in January 1994, with 32 deaths, and then declined steadily to reach pre-outbreak levels by September, but sporadic losses continued until November. During the outbreak altogether 64 elephants died, of which 53 (83%) were adult bulls. Archival records revealed that, in addition to the usual losses from known causes such as poaching and intraspecific fighting, sporadic deaths from unexplained causes had, in fact, occurred in widely scattered locations from at least 1987 onwards, and from that time until the perceived outbreak of disease there had been 48 such deaths involving 33 (69%) adult bulls. Carcases had frequently become decomposed or had been scavenged by the time they were found, but seven of eight elephants examined early in 1994 had lesions of cardiac failure suggestive of encephalomyocarditis (EMC)-virus infection, and the virus was isolated from the heart muscles of three fresh carcases. The results of tests for neutralizing antibody on 362 elephant sera collected for unrelated purposes from 1984 onwards and kept frozen, indicated that the virus had been present in the KNP since at least 1987. Antibody prevalences of 62 of 116 (53%) 18 of 139 (13%) and seven of 33 (21%) were found in elephants in three different regions of the KNP in 1993 and 1994. Studies had been conducted on myomorph rodents in the KNP for unrelated purposes since 1984, and trapping attempts were increased during the perceived outbreak of disease in elephants. There was a striking temporal correlation between the occurrence of a population explosion (as evidenced by markedly increased catch rates per trap-night) and a surge in prevalence of antibody to EM virus in rodents, and the occurrence of the outbreak of disease in elephants.

  15. An outbreak of encephalomyocarditis-virus infection in free-ranging African elephants in the Kruger National Park.

    PubMed

    Grobler, D G; Raath, J P; Braack, L E; Keet, D F; Gerdes, G H; Barnard, B J; Kriek, N P; Jardine, J; Swanepoel, R

    1995-06-01

    A cluster of four deaths in late December 1993, marked the onset of an outbreak of disease of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa, which has an estimated population of 7,500 elephants. Mortalities peaked in January 1994, with 32 deaths, and then declined steadily to reach pre-outbreak levels by September, but sporadic losses continued until November. During the outbreak altogether 64 elephants died, of which 53 (83%) were adult bulls. Archival records revealed that, in addition to the usual losses from known causes such as poaching and intraspecific fighting, sporadic deaths from unexplained causes had, in fact, occurred in widely scattered locations from at least 1987 onwards, and from that time until the perceived outbreak of disease there had been 48 such deaths involving 33 (69%) adult bulls. Carcases had frequently become decomposed or had been scavenged by the time they were found, but seven of eight elephants examined early in 1994 had lesions of cardiac failure suggestive of encephalomyocarditis (EMC)-virus infection, and the virus was isolated from the heart muscles of three fresh carcases. The results of tests for neutralizing antibody on 362 elephant sera collected for unrelated purposes from 1984 onwards and kept frozen, indicated that the virus had been present in the KNP since at least 1987. Antibody prevalences of 62 of 116 (53%) 18 of 139 (13%) and seven of 33 (21%) were found in elephants in three different regions of the KNP in 1993 and 1994. Studies had been conducted on myomorph rodents in the KNP for unrelated purposes since 1984, and trapping attempts were increased during the perceived outbreak of disease in elephants. There was a striking temporal correlation between the occurrence of a population explosion (as evidenced by markedly increased catch rates per trap-night) and a surge in prevalence of antibody to EM virus in rodents, and the occurrence of the outbreak of disease in elephants

  16. Fecal 20-oxo-pregnane concentrations in free-ranging African elephants (Loxodonta africana) treated with porcine zona pellucida vaccine.

    PubMed

    Ahlers, M J; Ganswindt, A; Münscher, S; Bertschinger, H J

    2012-07-01

    Because of overpopulation of African elephants in South Africa and the consequent threat to biodiversity, the need for a method of population control has become evident. In this regard, the potential use of the porcine zona pellucida (pZP) vaccine as an effective means for population control is explored. While potential effects of pZP treatment on social behavior of African elephants have been investigated, no examination of the influence of pZP vaccination on the endocrine correlates in treated females has been undertaken. In this study, ovarian activity of free-ranging, pZP-treated African elephant females was monitored noninvasively for 1 yr at Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, South Africa, by measuring fecal 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-on concentrations via enzyme immunoassay. A total of 719 fecal samples from 19 individuals were collected over the study period, averaging 38 samples collected per individual (minimum, maximum: 16, 52). Simultaneously, behavioral observations were made to record the occurrence of estrous behavior for comparison. Each elephant under study showed 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-on concentrations rising above baseline at some period during the study indicating luteal activity. Average 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-on concentrations were 1.61 ± 0.46 μg/g (mean ± SD). Within sampled females, 42.9% exhibited estrous cycles within the range reported for captive African elephants, 14.3% had irregular cycles, and 42.9% did not appear to be cycling. Average estrous cycle duration was 14.72 ± 0.85 wk. Estrous behavior coincided with the onset of the luteal phase and a subsequent rise in 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-on concentrations. Average 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-on levels positively correlated with rainfall. No association between average individual 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-on concentrations or cyclicity status with age or parity were detected. Earlier determination of efficacy was established via fecal hormone analysis with no pregnancies determined 22 mo post

  17. Patterns and Implications of Plant-Soil C and N Isotopic Compositions in African Savanna Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, L.; Macko, S. A.; D'Odorico, P.; Ries, L.

    2007-12-01

    Southern African savannas are mixed plant communities where C3 trees co-exist with C4 grasses. Owing to differences in their morphology and physiology, trees and grasses have different access to nutrients and water and different efficiency in the use of these resources. It is still unclear how climate variables such as the mean annual precipitation may affect the relative efficiency of grasses and trees in the use of water and soil nutrients such as nitrogen. In this study, the foliar δ15N and δ13C were used as indicators of nitrogen uptake and of water use efficiency, respectively, to investigate the effect of the rainfall regime on the use of nitrogen and water by herbaceous and woody plants. To this end, patterns of foliar δ15N and δ13C for both C3 and C4 plants as well as patterns of soil δ15N and δ13C in canopy and intercanopy areas were investigated both in the dry and in the wet season along the Kalahari megatransect, where a distinct rainfall gradient exists on a homogeneous soil substrate. Foliar δ15N signatures increased as aridity heightened for both C3 and C4 plants in both seasons, although the magnitude of the increase was different for these two plant functional types. Soil δ15N also significantly increased with aridity. Foliar δ13C signatures increased with aridity for C3 plants in the wet season but not in the dry season, while in C4 plants the relation between foliar δ13C signatures and aridity was more complex and non-linear in both seasons. The consistent higher foliar δ15N for C3 plants suggests that C4 plants are superior competitor for N. The different foliar δ13C relationships with rainfall for the C3 plants and C4 plants may indicate that the C3 plants have an advantage over C4 plants when competing for water resources. The differences in water and nitrogen use between C3 and C4 plants likely collectively contribute to the tree-grass coexistence in savannas.

  18. Circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol secretion in female zoo-kept African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Casares, Miguel; Silván, Gema; Carbonell, Maria Dolores; Gerique, Cati; Martinez-Fernandez, Leticia; Cáceres, Sara; Illera, Juan Carlos

    2016-01-01

    Salivary samples were collected over a 24-hr period from one group of six juvenile (7-12 years) and one group of three adult (24-25 years) African elephant females, Loxodonta africana, and the cortisol concentration was measured in unextracted samples by EIA. Samples were collected during May, June, and November 2012 (n = 147) using cotton swabs at 4-hr intervals from 20:00 to 20:00 of the next day (seven samples per animal in each trial). The animals are kept under standard zoo management: the herd is maintained in their indoor enclosures until 10:00 and then released into the outdoor enclosures until 21:00-21:30 (May/June) and 18:30-19:00 (November). No adult elephant bull was present at the zoo during this time. The results demonstrate a clear diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion with the lowest concentration observed at 20:00 (2.03 ± 0.08 ng/ml saliva) and the peak concentrations at 08:00 (5.26 ± 0.35 ng/ml saliva). Although the cortisol values were higher in the adult cows compared to the juvenile cows in the May-June period, the differences were not significant. However, the values obtained in November from the juvenile group were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than the concentrations measured in this group in June. In conclusion, salivary cortisol in zoo elephants follows a circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) adapted to daily zoo husbandry routines.

  19. Circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol secretion in female zoo-kept African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Casares, Miguel; Silván, Gema; Carbonell, Maria Dolores; Gerique, Cati; Martinez-Fernandez, Leticia; Cáceres, Sara; Illera, Juan Carlos

    2016-01-01

    Salivary samples were collected over a 24-hr period from one group of six juvenile (7-12 years) and one group of three adult (24-25 years) African elephant females, Loxodonta africana, and the cortisol concentration was measured in unextracted samples by EIA. Samples were collected during May, June, and November 2012 (n = 147) using cotton swabs at 4-hr intervals from 20:00 to 20:00 of the next day (seven samples per animal in each trial). The animals are kept under standard zoo management: the herd is maintained in their indoor enclosures until 10:00 and then released into the outdoor enclosures until 21:00-21:30 (May/June) and 18:30-19:00 (November). No adult elephant bull was present at the zoo during this time. The results demonstrate a clear diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion with the lowest concentration observed at 20:00 (2.03 ± 0.08 ng/ml saliva) and the peak concentrations at 08:00 (5.26 ± 0.35 ng/ml saliva). Although the cortisol values were higher in the adult cows compared to the juvenile cows in the May-June period, the differences were not significant. However, the values obtained in November from the juvenile group were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than the concentrations measured in this group in June. In conclusion, salivary cortisol in zoo elephants follows a circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) adapted to daily zoo husbandry routines. PMID:26748465

  20. The Impact of Fire on Energy Balance in Southern African Savanna Ecosystems: Implications of Climate Change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dintwe, K.; Okin, G. S.; Saha, M.; Scanlon, T. M.; D'Odorico, P.; De Sales, F.; Xue, Y.

    2015-12-01

    Savannas are the most fire prone ecosystems in the world accounting for more than 75% of annual global fires. Wildfires in savannas consume large quantities of biomass releasing CO2 and aerosols while leaving ash and char residues. The residues form black-grey patches on the soil surface, and together with newly exposed bare soil patches, they play a significant role in altering surface reflectance and vegetation condition. We investigated the impact of fire on savanna albedo and vegetation greenness (from Enhanced Vegetation Index, EVI) from 2000-2014 using data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) for Africa south of the Equator. Preliminary results indicate that more mesic savannas near the Equator have the highest fire frequencies, with fire frequency generally decreasing with aridity. Immediately after fires, the average change in albedo and EVI is -5% and -10%, respectively, with the magnitude of the change increasing with aridity. The time for albedo to recover to values similar to unburned areas varied by latitude, with more mesic savannas recovering much faster (24 days vs. 65 days for dry savannas). The time for vegetation condition to recover did not vary strongly by latitude (about 65 days). The upward shortwave energy in burnt areas in mesic savannas is 53 W m-2 compared to 95 W m-2 for unburnt areas, indicating a positive forcing of about 42 W m-2 associated with mesic savanna fires locally. Approximately 7% of the (primarily savanna) land in southern Africa burns each year, suggesting an overall forcing in Africa south of the Equator of ~1-2 W m-2 associated with savanna fires. This large forcing indicates clearly the important interplay between ecosystem processes (fire) and climate (radiative forcing) in this region. With changing climate, this region is expected to become significantly drier, suggesting that the forcing due to fire might decrease in the coming decades and indicating that fire-induced albedo changes potentially

  1. GPS assessment of the use of exhibit space and resources by African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Leighty, Katherine A; Soltis, Joseph; Savage, Anne

    2010-01-01

    In public discussions of animal rights and welfare, we as members and proponents of zoological institutions often face significant challenges addressing the concerns of our detractors due to an unfortunate deficiency in systematically collected and published data on the animals in our collections. In the case of elephants, there has been a paucity of information describing their use of space within captive environments. Here, using collar-mounted GPS recording devices, we documented the use of exhibit space and resources by a herd of five adult female African elephants (Loxodonta africana) housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom((R)). We found that dominant animals within the herd used a greater percentage of the available space and subordinate females avoided narrow or enclosed regions of the enclosure that we termed "restricted flow areas." In their use of other resources, dominant females demonstrated increased occupation of the watering hole over subordinate females, but all females demonstrated relatively equivalent use of the mud wallow. Overall, our results provide preliminary evidence that position within the dominancy hierarchy impacts the percentage of space occupied in a captive setting and may contribute to resource accessibility. These findings can be applied to future decisions on exhibit design and resource distribution for this species. PMID:19418496

  2. Acute death associated with Citrobacter freundii infection in an African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Ortega, Joaquín; Corpa, Juan M; Orden, José A; Blanco, Jorge; Carbonell, María D; Gerique, Amalia C; Latimer, Erin; Hayward, Gary S; Roemmelt, Andreas; Kraemer, Thomas; Romey, Aurore; Kassimi, Labib B; Casares, Miguel

    2015-09-01

    A 21-year-old male African elephant (Loxodonta africana) died suddenly with no previous medical history. Grossly, there were severe multifocal epicardial and endocardial hemorrhages of the atria and ventricles, hydropericardium, multifocal pleural hemorrhages, and severe pulmonary congestion and edema. Histologically, there was fibrinoid vasculitis and thrombosis in the heart and lung and myocardial necrosis. Citrobacter freundii was isolated in abundance in pure culture from liver and heart samples. Low levels of multiples types of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV-6, EEHV-2B, and EEHV-3A) were detected in spleen samples, but not in heart samples. The levels of EEHV DNA found were much lower than those usually associated with acute EEHV hemorrhagic disease, and many other genomic loci that would normally be found in such cases were evidently below the level of detection. Therefore, these findings are unlikely to indicate lethal EEHV disease. Polymerase chain reaction for encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) and toxicology for oleander (Nerium oleander) were negative. Stress, resulting from recent transport, and antimicrobial therapy may have contributed to the death of this animal.

  3. Comparative endocrinology of testicular, adrenal and thyroid function in captive Asian and African elephant bulls.

    PubMed

    Brown, Janine L; Somerville, Malia; Riddle, Heidi S; Keele, Mike; Duer, Connie K; Freeman, Elizabeth W

    2007-04-01

    Concentrations of serum testosterone, cortisol, thyroxine (free and total T4), triiodothyronine (free and total T3) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) were measured to assess adrenal and thyroid function as they relate to testicular activity and musth in captive elephants. Blood samples were collected approximately weekly from Asian (n=8) and African (n=12) bulls at seven facilities for periods of 4 months to 9.5 years. Age ranges at study onset were 8-50 years for Asian and 10-21 years for African elephants. Based on keeper logs, seven Asian and three African bulls exhibited behavioral and/or physical (temporal gland secretion, TGS, or urine dribbling, UD) signs of musth, which lasted 2.8+/-2.5 months in duration. Serum testosterone was elevated during musth, with concentrations often exceeding 100 ng/ml. Patterns of testosterone secretion and musth varied among bulls with no evidence of seasonality (P>0.05). Only three bulls at one facility exhibited classic, well-defined yearly musth cycles. Others exhibited more irregular cycles, with musth symptoms often occurring more than once a year. A number of bulls (1 Asian, 9 African) had consistently low testosterone (<10 ng/ml) and never exhibited significant TGS or UD. At facilities with multiple bulls (n=3), testosterone concentrations were highest in the oldest, most dominant male. There were positive correlations between testosterone and cortisol for six of seven Asian and all three African males that exhibited musth (range, r=0.23-0.52; P<0.05), but no significant correlations for bulls that did not (P>0.05). For the three bulls that exhibited yearly musth cycles, TSH was positively correlated (range, r=0.22-0.28; P<0.05) and thyroid hormones (T3, T4) were negatively correlated (range, r=-0.25 to -0.47; P<0.05) to testosterone secretion. In the remaining bulls, there were no clear relationships between thyroid activity and musth status. Overall mean testosterone and cortisol concentrations increased with age

  4. Housing and Demographic Risk Factors Impacting Foot and Musculoskeletal Health in African Elephants [Loxodonta africana] and Asian Elephants [Elephas maximus] in North American Zoos

    PubMed Central

    Miller, Michele A.; Hogan, Jennifer N.; Meehan, Cheryl L.

    2016-01-01

    For more than three decades, foot and musculoskeletal conditions have been documented among both Asian [Elephas maximus] and African [Loxodonta africana] elephants in zoos. Although environmental factors have been hypothesized to play a contributing role in the development of foot and musculoskeletal pathology, there is a paucity of evidence-based research assessing risk. We investigated the associations between foot and musculoskeletal health conditions with demographic characteristics, space, flooring, exercise, enrichment, and body condition for elephants housed in North American zoos during 2012. Clinical examinations and medical records were used to assess health indicators and provide scores to quantitate conditions. Using multivariable regression models, associations were found between foot health and age [P value = 0.076; Odds Ratio = 1.018], time spent on hard substrates [P value = 0.022; Odds Ratio = 1.014], space experienced during the night [P value = 0.041; Odds Ratio = 1.008], and percent of time spent in indoor/outdoor exhibits during the day [P value < 0.001; Odds Ratio = 1.003]. Similarly, the main risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders included time on hard substrate [P value = 0.002; Odds Ratio = 1.050] and space experienced in indoor/outdoor exhibits [P value = 0.039; Odds Ratio = 1.037]. These results suggest that facility and management changes that decrease time spent on hard substrates will improve elephant welfare through better foot and musculoskeletal health. PMID:27415763

  5. Housing and Demographic Risk Factors Impacting Foot and Musculoskeletal Health in African Elephants [Loxodonta africana] and Asian Elephants [Elephas maximus] in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Miller, Michele A; Hogan, Jennifer N; Meehan, Cheryl L

    2016-01-01

    For more than three decades, foot and musculoskeletal conditions have been documented among both Asian [Elephas maximus] and African [Loxodonta africana] elephants in zoos. Although environmental factors have been hypothesized to play a contributing role in the development of foot and musculoskeletal pathology, there is a paucity of evidence-based research assessing risk. We investigated the associations between foot and musculoskeletal health conditions with demographic characteristics, space, flooring, exercise, enrichment, and body condition for elephants housed in North American zoos during 2012. Clinical examinations and medical records were used to assess health indicators and provide scores to quantitate conditions. Using multivariable regression models, associations were found between foot health and age [P value = 0.076; Odds Ratio = 1.018], time spent on hard substrates [P value = 0.022; Odds Ratio = 1.014], space experienced during the night [P value = 0.041; Odds Ratio = 1.008], and percent of time spent in indoor/outdoor exhibits during the day [P value < 0.001; Odds Ratio = 1.003]. Similarly, the main risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders included time on hard substrate [P value = 0.002; Odds Ratio = 1.050] and space experienced in indoor/outdoor exhibits [P value = 0.039; Odds Ratio = 1.037]. These results suggest that facility and management changes that decrease time spent on hard substrates will improve elephant welfare through better foot and musculoskeletal health. PMID:27415763

  6. Housing and Demographic Risk Factors Impacting Foot and Musculoskeletal Health in African Elephants [Loxodonta africana] and Asian Elephants [Elephas maximus] in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Miller, Michele A; Hogan, Jennifer N; Meehan, Cheryl L

    2016-01-01

    For more than three decades, foot and musculoskeletal conditions have been documented among both Asian [Elephas maximus] and African [Loxodonta africana] elephants in zoos. Although environmental factors have been hypothesized to play a contributing role in the development of foot and musculoskeletal pathology, there is a paucity of evidence-based research assessing risk. We investigated the associations between foot and musculoskeletal health conditions with demographic characteristics, space, flooring, exercise, enrichment, and body condition for elephants housed in North American zoos during 2012. Clinical examinations and medical records were used to assess health indicators and provide scores to quantitate conditions. Using multivariable regression models, associations were found between foot health and age [P value = 0.076; Odds Ratio = 1.018], time spent on hard substrates [P value = 0.022; Odds Ratio = 1.014], space experienced during the night [P value = 0.041; Odds Ratio = 1.008], and percent of time spent in indoor/outdoor exhibits during the day [P value < 0.001; Odds Ratio = 1.003]. Similarly, the main risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders included time on hard substrate [P value = 0.002; Odds Ratio = 1.050] and space experienced in indoor/outdoor exhibits [P value = 0.039; Odds Ratio = 1.037]. These results suggest that facility and management changes that decrease time spent on hard substrates will improve elephant welfare through better foot and musculoskeletal health.

  7. Housing and Social Environments of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in North American Zoos

    PubMed Central

    Meehan, Cheryl L.; Hogan, Jennifer N.; Bonaparte-Saller, Mary K.; Mench, Joy A.

    2016-01-01

    We evaluated 255 African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants living in 68 North American zoos over one year to quantify housing and social variables. All parameters were quantified for the both the day and the night and comparisons were made across these time periods as well as by species and sex. To assess housing, we evaluated not only total exhibit size, but also individual animals’ experiences based on the time they spent in the unique environments into which the exhibits were subdivided. Variables developed to assess housing included measurements of area as a function of time (Total Space Experience), environment type (Indoor, Outdoor, In/Out Choice) and time spent on hard and soft flooring. Over the year, Total Space Experience values ranged from 1,273 square feet to 169,692 square feet, with Day values significantly greater than Night values (p<0.001). Elephants spent an average of 55.1% of their time outdoors, 28.9% indoors, and 16% in areas with a choice between being in or out. Time spent on hard flooring substrate ranged from 0% to 66.7%, with Night values significantly greater than Day (p<0.001). Social factors included number of animals functionally housed together (Social Experience) and social group characteristics such as time spent with juveniles and in mixed-sex groups. Overall Social Experience scores ranged from 1 to 11.2 and were significantly greater during the Day than at Night (p<0.001). There were few significant social or housing differences between African (N = 138) and Asian (N = 117) species or between males (N = 54) and females (N = 201). The most notable exception was Total Space Experience, with African and male elephants having larger Total Space Experience than Asian and female elephants, respectively (P-value<0.05). The housing and social variables evaluated herein have been used in a series of subsequent epidemiological analyses relating to various elephant welfare outcomes. PMID:27414034

  8. Housing and Social Environments of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Bonaparte-Saller, Mary K; Mench, Joy A

    2016-01-01

    We evaluated 255 African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants living in 68 North American zoos over one year to quantify housing and social variables. All parameters were quantified for the both the day and the night and comparisons were made across these time periods as well as by species and sex. To assess housing, we evaluated not only total exhibit size, but also individual animals' experiences based on the time they spent in the unique environments into which the exhibits were subdivided. Variables developed to assess housing included measurements of area as a function of time (Total Space Experience), environment type (Indoor, Outdoor, In/Out Choice) and time spent on hard and soft flooring. Over the year, Total Space Experience values ranged from 1,273 square feet to 169,692 square feet, with Day values significantly greater than Night values (p<0.001). Elephants spent an average of 55.1% of their time outdoors, 28.9% indoors, and 16% in areas with a choice between being in or out. Time spent on hard flooring substrate ranged from 0% to 66.7%, with Night values significantly greater than Day (p<0.001). Social factors included number of animals functionally housed together (Social Experience) and social group characteristics such as time spent with juveniles and in mixed-sex groups. Overall Social Experience scores ranged from 1 to 11.2 and were significantly greater during the Day than at Night (p<0.001). There were few significant social or housing differences between African (N = 138) and Asian (N = 117) species or between males (N = 54) and females (N = 201). The most notable exception was Total Space Experience, with African and male elephants having larger Total Space Experience than Asian and female elephants, respectively (P-value<0.05). The housing and social variables evaluated herein have been used in a series of subsequent epidemiological analyses relating to various elephant welfare outcomes. PMID:27414034

  9. Housing and Social Environments of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in North American Zoos.

    PubMed

    Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Bonaparte-Saller, Mary K; Mench, Joy A

    2016-01-01

    We evaluated 255 African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants living in 68 North American zoos over one year to quantify housing and social variables. All parameters were quantified for the both the day and the night and comparisons were made across these time periods as well as by species and sex. To assess housing, we evaluated not only total exhibit size, but also individual animals' experiences based on the time they spent in the unique environments into which the exhibits were subdivided. Variables developed to assess housing included measurements of area as a function of time (Total Space Experience), environment type (Indoor, Outdoor, In/Out Choice) and time spent on hard and soft flooring. Over the year, Total Space Experience values ranged from 1,273 square feet to 169,692 square feet, with Day values significantly greater than Night values (p<0.001). Elephants spent an average of 55.1% of their time outdoors, 28.9% indoors, and 16% in areas with a choice between being in or out. Time spent on hard flooring substrate ranged from 0% to 66.7%, with Night values significantly greater than Day (p<0.001). Social factors included number of animals functionally housed together (Social Experience) and social group characteristics such as time spent with juveniles and in mixed-sex groups. Overall Social Experience scores ranged from 1 to 11.2 and were significantly greater during the Day than at Night (p<0.001). There were few significant social or housing differences between African (N = 138) and Asian (N = 117) species or between males (N = 54) and females (N = 201). The most notable exception was Total Space Experience, with African and male elephants having larger Total Space Experience than Asian and female elephants, respectively (P-value<0.05). The housing and social variables evaluated herein have been used in a series of subsequent epidemiological analyses relating to various elephant welfare outcomes.

  10. Multiple Scales of Control on the Structure and Spatial Distribution of Woody Vegetation in African Savanna Watersheds.

    PubMed

    Vaughn, Nicholas R; Asner, Gregory P; Smit, Izak P J; Riddel, Edward S

    2015-01-01

    Factors controlling savanna woody vegetation structure vary at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and as a consequence, unraveling their combined effects has proven to be a classic challenge in savanna ecology. We used airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to map three-dimensional woody vegetation structure throughout four savanna watersheds, each contrasting in geologic substrate and climate, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. By comparison of the four watersheds, we found that geologic substrate had a stronger effect than climate in determining watershed-scale differences in vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density. Generalized Linear Models were used to assess the spatial distribution of woody vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density, in relation to mapped hydrologic, topographic and fire history traits. For each substrate and climate combination, models incorporating topography, hydrology and fire history explained up to 30% of the remaining variation in woody canopy structure, but inclusion of a spatial autocovariate term further improved model performance. Both crown density and the cover of shorter woody canopies were determined more by unknown factors likely to be changing on smaller spatial scales, such as soil texture, herbivore abundance or fire behavior, than by our mapped regional-scale changes in topography and hydrology. We also detected patterns in spatial covariance at distances up to 50-450 m, depending on watershed and structural metric. Our results suggest that large-scale environmental factors play a smaller role than is often attributed to them in determining woody vegetation structure in southern African savannas. This highlights the need for more spatially-explicit, wide-area analyses using high resolution remote sensing techniques. PMID:26660502

  11. Multiple Scales of Control on the Structure and Spatial Distribution of Woody Vegetation in African Savanna Watersheds.

    PubMed

    Vaughn, Nicholas R; Asner, Gregory P; Smit, Izak P J; Riddel, Edward S

    2015-01-01

    Factors controlling savanna woody vegetation structure vary at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and as a consequence, unraveling their combined effects has proven to be a classic challenge in savanna ecology. We used airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to map three-dimensional woody vegetation structure throughout four savanna watersheds, each contrasting in geologic substrate and climate, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. By comparison of the four watersheds, we found that geologic substrate had a stronger effect than climate in determining watershed-scale differences in vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density. Generalized Linear Models were used to assess the spatial distribution of woody vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density, in relation to mapped hydrologic, topographic and fire history traits. For each substrate and climate combination, models incorporating topography, hydrology and fire history explained up to 30% of the remaining variation in woody canopy structure, but inclusion of a spatial autocovariate term further improved model performance. Both crown density and the cover of shorter woody canopies were determined more by unknown factors likely to be changing on smaller spatial scales, such as soil texture, herbivore abundance or fire behavior, than by our mapped regional-scale changes in topography and hydrology. We also detected patterns in spatial covariance at distances up to 50-450 m, depending on watershed and structural metric. Our results suggest that large-scale environmental factors play a smaller role than is often attributed to them in determining woody vegetation structure in southern African savannas. This highlights the need for more spatially-explicit, wide-area analyses using high resolution remote sensing techniques.

  12. Multiple Scales of Control on the Structure and Spatial Distribution of Woody Vegetation in African Savanna Watersheds

    PubMed Central

    Vaughn, Nicholas R.; Asner, Gregory P.; Smit, Izak P. J.; Riddel, Edward S.

    2015-01-01

    Factors controlling savanna woody vegetation structure vary at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and as a consequence, unraveling their combined effects has proven to be a classic challenge in savanna ecology. We used airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to map three-dimensional woody vegetation structure throughout four savanna watersheds, each contrasting in geologic substrate and climate, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. By comparison of the four watersheds, we found that geologic substrate had a stronger effect than climate in determining watershed-scale differences in vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density. Generalized Linear Models were used to assess the spatial distribution of woody vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density, in relation to mapped hydrologic, topographic and fire history traits. For each substrate and climate combination, models incorporating topography, hydrology and fire history explained up to 30% of the remaining variation in woody canopy structure, but inclusion of a spatial autocovariate term further improved model performance. Both crown density and the cover of shorter woody canopies were determined more by unknown factors likely to be changing on smaller spatial scales, such as soil texture, herbivore abundance or fire behavior, than by our mapped regional-scale changes in topography and hydrology. We also detected patterns in spatial covariance at distances up to 50–450 m, depending on watershed and structural metric. Our results suggest that large-scale environmental factors play a smaller role than is often attributed to them in determining woody vegetation structure in southern African savannas. This highlights the need for more spatially-explicit, wide-area analyses using high resolution remote sensing techniques. PMID:26660502

  13. Native and domestic browsers and grazers reduce fuels, fire temperatures, and acacia ant mortality in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Kimuyu, Duncan M; Sensenig, Ryan L; Riginos, Corinna; Veblen, Kari E; Young, Truman P

    2014-06-01

    Despite the importance of fire and herbivory in structuring savanna systems, few replicated experiments have examined the interactive effects of herbivory and fire on plant dynamics. In addition, the effects of fire on associated ant-tree mutualisms have been largely unexplored. We carried out small controlled burns in each of 18 herbivore treatment plots of the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE), where experimentally excluding elephants has resulted in 42% greater tree densities. The KLEE design includes six different herbivore treatments that allowed us to examine how different combinations of megaherbivore wildlife, mesoherbivore wildlife, and cattle affect fire temperatures and subsequent loss of ant symbionts from Acacia trees. Before burning, we quantified herbaceous fuel loads and plant community composition. We tagged all trees, measured their height and basal diameter, and identified the resident ant species on each. We recorded weather conditions during the burns and used ceramic tiles painted with fire-sensitive paints to estimate fire temperatures at different heights and in different microsites (under vs. between trees). Across all treatments, fire temperatures were highest at 0-50 cm off the ground and hotter in the grass under trees than in the grassy areas between trees. Plots with more trees burned hotter than plots with fewer trees, perhaps because of greater fine woody debris. Plots grazed by wildlife and by cattle prior to burning had lower herbaceous fuel loads and experienced lower burn temperatures than ungrazed plots. Many trees lost their ant colonies during the burns. Ant survivorship differed by ant species and at the plot level was positively associated with previous herbivory (and lower fire temperatures). Across all treatments, ant colonies on taller trees were more likely to survive, but even some of the tallest trees lost their ant colonies. Our study marks a significant step in understanding the mechanisms that underlie the

  14. Retrospective genetic characterisation of Encephalomyocarditis viruses from African elephant and swine recovers two distinct lineages in South Africa.

    PubMed

    van Sandwyk, James H D T; Bennett, Nigel C; Swanepoel, Robert; Bastos, Armanda D S

    2013-02-22

    Encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) outbreaks are rare in southern Africa. Only two have been reported to date from South Africa, both coinciding with rodent irruptions. The first outbreak manifested as acute myocarditis in pigs in 1979, whilst the second, occurring from 1993 to 1994, was linked to the deaths of 64 free-ranging adult African elephants (Loxodonta africana). The P1 genome region, inclusive of the flanking leader (L) and 2A genes, of three South African isolates, one from swine and two from elephants, was characterised by PCR amplification and sequencing of up to 11 overlapping fragments. In addition to the resulting 3329 nucleotide dataset, the 3D region that is widely used in molecular epidemiology studies, was characterised, and three datasets (P1, VP1/3 and 3D), complemented with available homologous EMCV data, were compiled for analyses. Phylogenetic inferences revealed the near-identical elephant outbreak strains to be most closely related to a mengovirus from rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in Uganda, differing from the latter by between 11% (3D) and 15% (VP3/1). The South African pig isolate differed by 4% (3D) and 11% (VP3/1) from available European and Asian pig virus sequences. This study confirms the presence of two genetically distinct EMCV lineages recovered from sporadic outbreaks in wild and domestic hosts in southern Africa, and provides valuable baseline data for future outbreak eventualities in the sub-region. PMID:23021643

  15. Sources and sinks of methane in the African savanna. CH sub 4 emissions from biomass burning

    SciTech Connect

    Delmas, R.A.; Marenco, A. ); Tathy, J.P.; Cros, B. ); Baudet, J.G.R. )

    1991-04-20

    Sources and sinks of atmospheric methane are studied in savanna regions of west and central Africa. Flux measured over dry savanna soils, using static chambers, is always negative, the average uptake rate being 2 {times} 10{sup 10} molecules/cm{sup 2}/s. In these regions, sources are linked to biomass burning. Methane and CO{sub 2} emission from combustion of savanna plants and wood is studied by both field experiments and laboratory experiments using a combustion chamber. For savanna plants most of the carbon (85%) contained in the biomaterial is volatilized as CO{sub 2} and 0.1 to 0.25% as methane. For graminaceous plants like loudetia simplex the ratio C-CH{sub 4}/C-CO{sub 2} is 0.11%; it is 0.28% for hyparrhenia the other main type of savanna plants and it attains 1.4% for the combustion of wood. In natural fire plumes this ratio is around 0.26% for savanna fires and 0.56 to 2.22% for forest fires. These results show that methane release is highly dependent on the type of combustion. Methane to CO{sub 2} ratios are also studied in vertical profiles in the troposphere taken during the TROPOZ I campaign, an aerial research expedition carried out over west Africa during the bushfire period. Within polluted layers, the average ratio of CH{sub 4} to CO{sub 2} excess over ambient air concentration is 0.34%. These results show that biomass burning in tropical Africa constitutes an important source of atmospheric methane estimated to about 9.2 {times} 10{sup 6} T (CH{sub 4})/yr.

  16. Assessment of Body Condition in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in North American Zoos and Management Practices Associated with High Body Condition Scores

    PubMed Central

    Morfeld, Kari A.; Meehan, Cheryl L.; Hogan, Jennifer N.; Brown, Janine L.

    2016-01-01

    Obesity has a negative effect on health and welfare of many species, and has been speculated to be a problem for zoo elephants. To address this concern, we assessed the body condition of 240 elephants housed in North American zoos based on a set of standardized photographs using a 5-point Body Condition Score index (1 = thinnest; 5 = fattest). A multi-variable regression analysis was then used to determine how demographic, management, housing, and social factors were associated with an elevated body condition score in 132 African (Loxodonta africana) and 108 Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants. The highest BCS of 5, suggestive of obesity, was observed in 34% of zoo elephants. In both species, the majority of elephants had elevated BCS, with 74% in the BCS 4 (40%) and 5 (34%) categories. Only 22% of elephants had BCS 3, and less than 5% of the population was assigned the lowest BCS categories (BCS 1 and 2). The strongest multi-variable model demonstrated that staff-directed walking exercise of 14 hours or more per week and highly unpredictable feeding schedules were associated with decreased risk of BCS 4 or 5, while increased diversity in feeding methods and being female was associated with increased risk of BCS 4 or 5. Our data suggest that high body condition is prevalent among North American zoo elephants, and management strategies that help prevent and mitigate obesity may lead to improvements in welfare of zoo elephants. PMID:27415629

  17. Assessment of Body Condition in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in North American Zoos and Management Practices Associated with High Body Condition Scores.

    PubMed

    Morfeld, Kari A; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Brown, Janine L

    2016-01-01

    Obesity has a negative effect on health and welfare of many species, and has been speculated to be a problem for zoo elephants. To address this concern, we assessed the body condition of 240 elephants housed in North American zoos based on a set of standardized photographs using a 5-point Body Condition Score index (1 = thinnest; 5 = fattest). A multi-variable regression analysis was then used to determine how demographic, management, housing, and social factors were associated with an elevated body condition score in 132 African (Loxodonta africana) and 108 Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants. The highest BCS of 5, suggestive of obesity, was observed in 34% of zoo elephants. In both species, the majority of elephants had elevated BCS, with 74% in the BCS 4 (40%) and 5 (34%) categories. Only 22% of elephants had BCS 3, and less than 5% of the population was assigned the lowest BCS categories (BCS 1 and 2). The strongest multi-variable model demonstrated that staff-directed walking exercise of 14 hours or more per week and highly unpredictable feeding schedules were associated with decreased risk of BCS 4 or 5, while increased diversity in feeding methods and being female was associated with increased risk of BCS 4 or 5. Our data suggest that high body condition is prevalent among North American zoo elephants, and management strategies that help prevent and mitigate obesity may lead to improvements in welfare of zoo elephants. PMID:27415629

  18. Assessment of Body Condition in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in North American Zoos and Management Practices Associated with High Body Condition Scores.

    PubMed

    Morfeld, Kari A; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Brown, Janine L

    2016-01-01

    Obesity has a negative effect on health and welfare of many species, and has been speculated to be a problem for zoo elephants. To address this concern, we assessed the body condition of 240 elephants housed in North American zoos based on a set of standardized photographs using a 5-point Body Condition Score index (1 = thinnest; 5 = fattest). A multi-variable regression analysis was then used to determine how demographic, management, housing, and social factors were associated with an elevated body condition score in 132 African (Loxodonta africana) and 108 Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants. The highest BCS of 5, suggestive of obesity, was observed in 34% of zoo elephants. In both species, the majority of elephants had elevated BCS, with 74% in the BCS 4 (40%) and 5 (34%) categories. Only 22% of elephants had BCS 3, and less than 5% of the population was assigned the lowest BCS categories (BCS 1 and 2). The strongest multi-variable model demonstrated that staff-directed walking exercise of 14 hours or more per week and highly unpredictable feeding schedules were associated with decreased risk of BCS 4 or 5, while increased diversity in feeding methods and being female was associated with increased risk of BCS 4 or 5. Our data suggest that high body condition is prevalent among North American zoo elephants, and management strategies that help prevent and mitigate obesity may lead to improvements in welfare of zoo elephants.

  19. A spatio-temporal analysis of landscape dynamics under changing environmental regimes in southern African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bunting, Erin L.

    The United Nations and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deem many regions of southern Africa as vulnerable landscapes due to changing climatic regimes, ecological condition, and low adaptive capacity. The savanna ecosystems of southern Africa are of great ecological importance due to the high biodiversity they sustain, their high level of productivity, and the great role they play in the global carbon cycle. Given the dependence of humans on the lands it is essential to explore landscape level trends in patterns and processes in an effort to inform management practices. Even if climate change mitigation strategies were put in place, this is still a region heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture and tourism of the biological diverse lands. Therefore analysis of climate variability, both interannual and intra-annual, and the changing role it plays on the landscape is critical. This body of research analyzes the role of climate variability and climate on environmental condition and socio-economic development via research on (1) spatial and temporal vegetation patterns, (2) the underlying processes that influence savanna ecosystem resilience, (3) local perception of risk to livelihood development, and (4) potential consequences of climate change on vegetation patterns. As a whole this demonstrates the key role that climate plays on savanna landscapes, which would be highly beneficial when developing conservation or mitigation strategies. Increased climate variability is occurring, but what is still open to debate is the resilience of savanna landscape and vulnerability of socio-economic development.

  20. The pulsed response of soil respiration to precipitation in an African savanna ecosystem: a coupled measurement and modeling approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fan, Z.; Neff, J. C.; Hanan, N. P.

    2014-12-01

    Savannas cover 60% of the African continent and play an essential role in the global carbon (C) cycle. To better characterize the physical controls over soil respiration in these settings, half-hourly observations of volumetric soil-water content, temperature, and the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) at different soil depths were continually measured from 2005 to 2007 under trees ("sub-canopy") and between trees ("inter-canopy") in a savanna vegetation near Skukuza, Kruger National Park, South Africa. The measured soil climate and CO2 concentration data were assimilated into a process-based model that estimates the CO2 production and flux with coupled dynamics of dissolved organic C (DOC) and microbial biomass C. Our results show that temporal and spatial variations in CO2 flux were strongly influenced by precipitation and vegetation cover, with two times greater CO2 flux in the sub-canopy plots (~2421 g CO2 m-2 yr-1) than in the inter-canopy plots (~1290 g CO2 m-2 yr-1). Precipitation influenced soil respiration by changing soil temperature and moisture; however, our modeling analysis suggests that the pulsed response of soil respiration to precipitation [known as "Birch effect (BE)"] is a key control on soil fluxes at this site. At this site, BE contributed to approximately 50% and 65% of heterotrophic respiration or 20% and 39% of soil respiration in the sub-canopy and inter-canopy plots, respectively. These results suggest that pulsed response of respiration to precipitation is an important component of the C cycle of savannas and should be considered in both measurement and modeling studies of carbon exchange in similar ecosystems.

  1. African elephants adjust speed in response to surface-water constraint on foraging during the dry-season.

    PubMed

    Chamaillé-Jammes, Simon; Mtare, Godfrey; Makuwe, Edwin; Fritz, Hervé

    2013-01-01

    Most organisms need to acquire various resources to survive and reproduce. Individuals should adjust their behavior to make optimal use of the landscape and limit the costs of trade-offs emerging from the use of these resources. Here we study how African elephants Loxodonta africana travel to foraging places between regular visits to waterholes. Elephant herds were tracked using GPS collars during two consecutive dry seasons in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We segmented each individual movement track at each visit to water to define foraging trips, and then used trip-level statistics to build an understanding of movement strategies. Travel speed within these individually-consistent movement bouts was also analyzed to understand if speed was better linked to distance to water or progression in the trip over time. We found that elephants went further from water when drinking less often, which could result from a trade-off between drinking and foraging in less depleted, far from water, places. Speed increased towards the beginning and the end of the trips, and was also greater than observed during the wet season, suggesting that elephants were trying to save time. Numerous short trips traveled at greater speed, particularly when commuting to a different waterhole, was tentatively explained by the inability to drink at specific waterholes due to intra-specific interference. Unexpectedly elephants did not always minimize travel time by drinking at the closest waterhole, but the extra distance traveled remained never more than a few kilometers. Our results show how individuals may adjust movement behavior to deal with resource trade-offs at the landscape scale. We also highlight how behavioral context, here progression in the trip, may be more important than spatial context, here distance to water, in explaining animal movement patterns.

  2. Biogeography and molar morphology of Pleistocene African elephants: new evidence from Elandsfontein, Western Cape Province, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smith, Kathlyn M.; Stynder, Deano D.

    2015-05-01

    Elandsfontein (EFT) is a Middle Pleistocene archaeological/paleontological site located in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The largest herbivore in the assemblage is Loxodonta atlantica zulu, an extinct member of the genus that includes modern African elephants. No Elephas recki specimens were recovered at EFT, despite their common occurrence in other regions of Africa at the same time. Because E. recki and L. atlantica molars are similar in appearance, but the two species are traditionally viewed as dominating different regions of Africa during the Pleistocene, isolated molars may on occasions have been assessed to species level on the basis of geography rather than morphology. The last morphologic evaluation of EFT elephants was conducted in the 1970s, and revisiting this issue with new specimens provides added insight into the evolution of elephants in Africa. Reevaluating morphological characteristics of EFT elephant molars, through qualitative and quantitative description and comparison with Middle Pleistocene E. recki recki, L. atlantica atlantica, and L. atlantica zulu molar morphology, corroborates assessment of EFT elephants as L. a. zulu. Two recently discovered, previously undescribed molars from EFT show that molars of L. a. zulu exhibit greater variation in enamel thickness, lamellar frequency, and occlusal surface morphology than previously reported. An update of the Pleistocene biogeography of Loxodonta and Elephas indicates that fossil remains of both are often found at the same localities in eastern Africa. Their rare co-occurrences in the north and south, however, suggest geographic separation of the two genera in at least some regions of Africa, which may have been based on habitat preference.

  3. African elephants adjust speed in response to surface-water constraint on foraging during the dry-season.

    PubMed

    Chamaillé-Jammes, Simon; Mtare, Godfrey; Makuwe, Edwin; Fritz, Hervé

    2013-01-01

    Most organisms need to acquire various resources to survive and reproduce. Individuals should adjust their behavior to make optimal use of the landscape and limit the costs of trade-offs emerging from the use of these resources. Here we study how African elephants Loxodonta africana travel to foraging places between regular visits to waterholes. Elephant herds were tracked using GPS collars during two consecutive dry seasons in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We segmented each individual movement track at each visit to water to define foraging trips, and then used trip-level statistics to build an understanding of movement strategies. Travel speed within these individually-consistent movement bouts was also analyzed to understand if speed was better linked to distance to water or progression in the trip over time. We found that elephants went further from water when drinking less often, which could result from a trade-off between drinking and foraging in less depleted, far from water, places. Speed increased towards the beginning and the end of the trips, and was also greater than observed during the wet season, suggesting that elephants were trying to save time. Numerous short trips traveled at greater speed, particularly when commuting to a different waterhole, was tentatively explained by the inability to drink at specific waterholes due to intra-specific interference. Unexpectedly elephants did not always minimize travel time by drinking at the closest waterhole, but the extra distance traveled remained never more than a few kilometers. Our results show how individuals may adjust movement behavior to deal with resource trade-offs at the landscape scale. We also highlight how behavioral context, here progression in the trip, may be more important than spatial context, here distance to water, in explaining animal movement patterns. PMID:23554989

  4. Standing sedation with medetomidine and butorphanol in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Lüders, I; Tindall, B; Young, D; van der Horst, G; Botha, S; Luther, I; Maree, L; Bertschinger, H J

    2016-03-01

    Doses for standing sedation allowing for various procedures in otherwise inaccessible, untrained captive African elephant bulls are presented. Thirty-three standing sedations were performed in 12 males aged 8-30 years (one to four sedations per animal). Each bull received a combination of 0.009 ± 0.002 mg/kg medetomidine and 0.03 ± 0.007 mg/kg butorphanol. Full sedation was reached on average 25.5 min after injection. The addition of hyaluronidase (1000-2000 IU) significantly reduced time to full sedation to 16.5 min (paired t test, P = 0.024). Reversal was induced with intramuscular atipamezole 0.008 (±0.002) and naltrexone 0.035 (±0.015) mg/kg. Recovery took on average 7 min (3-18 min). The medetomidine/butorphanol combination provided safe standing sedation for smaller procedures. PMID:26831175

  5. Enduring consequences of early experiences: 40 year effects on survival and success among African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Lee, Phyllis C; Bussière, Luc F; Webber, C Elizabeth; Poole, Joyce H; Moss, Cynthia J

    2013-04-23

    Growth from conception to reproductive onset in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) provides insights into phenotypic plasticity, individual adaptive plastic responses and facultative maternal investment. Using growth for 867 and life histories for 2652 elephants over 40 years, we demonstrate that maternal inexperience plus drought in early life result in reduced growth rates for sons and higher mortality for both sexes. Slow growth during early lactation was associated with smaller adult size, later age at first reproduction, reduced lifetime survival and consequently limited reproductive output. These enduring effects of trading slow early growth against immediate survival were apparent over the very long term; delayed downstream consequences were unexpected for a species with a maximum longevity of 70+ years and unpredictable environmental experiences.

  6. An overview of nitrogen cycling in a semiarid savanna: some implications for management and conservation in a large African park.

    PubMed

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

    Nitrogen (N) is a major control on primary productivity and hence on the productivity and diversity of secondary producers and consumers. As such, ecosystem structure and function cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of N cycling and dynamics. This overview describes the factors that govern N distribution and dynamics and the consequences that variable N dynamics have for structure, function and thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) for management of a semiarid southern African savanna. We focus on the Kruger National Park (KNP), a relatively intact savanna, noted for its wide array of animal and plant species and a prized tourist destination. KNP's large size ensures integrity of most ecosystem processes and much can be learned about drivers of ecosystem structure and function using this park as a baseline. Our overview shows that large scale variability in substrates exists, but do not necessarily have predictable consequences for N cycling. The impact of major drivers such as fire is complex; at a landscape scale little differences in stocks and cycling were found, though at a smaller scale changes in woody cover can lead to concomitant changes in total N. Contrasting impacts of browsers and grazers on N turnover has been recorded. Due to the complexity of this ecosystem, we conclude that it will be complicated to draw up TPCs for most transformations and pools involved with the N cycle. However, we highlight in which cases the development of TPCs will be possible. PMID:22057696

  7. An Overview of Nitrogen Cycling in a Semiarid Savanna: Some Implications for Management and Conservation in a Large African Park

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

    Nitrogen (N) is a major control on primary productivity and hence on the productivity and diversity of secondary producers and consumers. As such, ecosystem structure and function cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of N cycling and dynamics. This overview describes the factors that govern N distribution and dynamics and the consequences that variable N dynamics have for structure, function and thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) for management of a semiarid southern African savanna. We focus on the Kruger National Park (KNP), a relatively intact savanna, noted for its wide array of animal and plant species and a prized tourist destination. KNP's large size ensures integrity of most ecosystem processes and much can be learned about drivers of ecosystem structure and function using this park as a baseline. Our overview shows that large scale variability in substrates exists, but do not necessarily have predictable consequences for N cycling. The impact of major drivers such as fire is complex; at a landscape scale little differences in stocks and cycling were found, though at a smaller scale changes in woody cover can lead to concomitant changes in total N. Contrasting impacts of browsers and grazers on N turnover has been recorded. Due to the complexity of this ecosystem, we conclude that it will be complicated to draw up TPCs for most transformations and pools involved with the N cycle. However, we highlight in which cases the development of TPCs will be possible.

  8. An overview of nitrogen cycling in a semiarid savanna: some implications for management and conservation in a large African park.

    PubMed

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

    Nitrogen (N) is a major control on primary productivity and hence on the productivity and diversity of secondary producers and consumers. As such, ecosystem structure and function cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of N cycling and dynamics. This overview describes the factors that govern N distribution and dynamics and the consequences that variable N dynamics have for structure, function and thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) for management of a semiarid southern African savanna. We focus on the Kruger National Park (KNP), a relatively intact savanna, noted for its wide array of animal and plant species and a prized tourist destination. KNP's large size ensures integrity of most ecosystem processes and much can be learned about drivers of ecosystem structure and function using this park as a baseline. Our overview shows that large scale variability in substrates exists, but do not necessarily have predictable consequences for N cycling. The impact of major drivers such as fire is complex; at a landscape scale little differences in stocks and cycling were found, though at a smaller scale changes in woody cover can lead to concomitant changes in total N. Contrasting impacts of browsers and grazers on N turnover has been recorded. Due to the complexity of this ecosystem, we conclude that it will be complicated to draw up TPCs for most transformations and pools involved with the N cycle. However, we highlight in which cases the development of TPCs will be possible.

  9. Recurrence of hyperprolactinemia and continuation of ovarian acyclicity in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) treated with cabergoline.

    PubMed

    Morfeld, Kari A; Ball, Ray L; Brown, Janine L

    2014-09-01

    Hyperprolactinemia is associated with reproductive acyclicity in zoo African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and may contribute to the non-self-sustainability of the captive population in North America. It is a common cause of infertility in women and other mammals and can be treated with the dopamine agonist cabergoline. The objectives of this study were to assess prolactin responses to cabergoline treatment in hyperprolactinemic, acyclic African elephants and to determine the subsequent impact on ovarian cyclic activity. Five elephants, diagnosed as hyperprolactinemic (>11 ng/ml prolactin) and acyclic (maintenance of baseline progestagens for at least 1 yr), were treated with 1-2 mg cabergoline orally twice weekly for 16-82 wk. Cabergoline reduced (P < 0.05) serum prolactin concentrations during the treatment period compared to pretreatment levels in four of five elephants (11.5 +/- 3.2 vs. 9.1 +/- 3.4 ng/ml; 20.3 +/- 16.7 vs. 7.9 +/- 9.8 ng/ml; 26.4 +/- 15.0 vs. 6.8 +/- 1.5 ng/ml; 42.2 +/- 22.6 vs. 18.6 +/- 8.9 ng/ml). However, none of the females resumed ovarian cyclicity based on serum progestagen analyses up to 1 yr posttreatment. In addition, within 1 to 6 wk after cessation of oral cabergoline, serum prolactin concentrations returned to concentrations that were as high as or higher than before treatment (P < 0.05). One elephant that exhibited the highest pretreatment prolactin concentration (75.2 +/- 10.5 ng/ml) did not respond to cabergoline and maintained elevated levels throughout the study. Thus, oral cabergoline administration reduced prolactin concentrations in elephants with hyperprolactinemia, but there was no resumption of ovarian cyclicity, and a significant prolactin rebound effect was observed. It is possible that higher doses or longer treatment intervals may be required for cabergoline treatment to result in permanent suppression of prolactin secretion and to mitigate associated ovarian cycle problems.

  10. Long-term impacts of poaching on relatedness, stress physiology, and reproductive output of adult female african elephants.

    PubMed

    Gobush, K S; Mutayoba, B M; Wasser, S K

    2008-12-01

    Widespread poaching prior to the 1989 ivory ban greatly altered the demographic structure of matrilineal African elephant (Loxodonta africana) family groups in many populations by decreasing the number of old, adult females. We assessed the long-term impacts of poaching by investigating genetic, physiological, and reproductive correlates of a disturbed social structure resulting from heavy poaching of an African elephant population in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania, prior to 1989. We examined fecal glucocorticoid levels and reproductive output among 218 adult female elephants from 109 groups differing in size, age structure, and average genetic relatedness over 25 months from 2003 to 2005. The distribution in group size has changed little since 1989, but the number of families with tusked old matriarchs has increased by 14.2%. Females from groups that lacked an old matriarch, first-order adult relatives, and strong social bonds had significantly higher fecal glucocorticoid values than those from groups with these features (all females R(2)= 0.31; females in multiadult groups R(2)= 0.46). Females that frequented isolated areas with historically high poaching risk had higher fecal glucocorticoid values than those in low poaching risk areas. Females with weak bonds and low group relatedness had significantly lower reproductive output (R(2)[U]=0.21). Females from disrupted groups, defined as having observed average group relatedness 1 SD below the expected mean for a simulated unpoached family, had significantly lower reproductive output than females from intact groups, despite many being in their reproductive prime. These results suggest that long-term negative impacts from poaching of old, related matriarchs have persisted among adult female elephants 1.5 decades after the 1989 ivory ban was implemented.

  11. Long-term impacts of poaching on relatedness, stress physiology, and reproductive output of adult female african elephants.

    PubMed

    Gobush, K S; Mutayoba, B M; Wasser, S K

    2008-12-01

    Widespread poaching prior to the 1989 ivory ban greatly altered the demographic structure of matrilineal African elephant (Loxodonta africana) family groups in many populations by decreasing the number of old, adult females. We assessed the long-term impacts of poaching by investigating genetic, physiological, and reproductive correlates of a disturbed social structure resulting from heavy poaching of an African elephant population in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania, prior to 1989. We examined fecal glucocorticoid levels and reproductive output among 218 adult female elephants from 109 groups differing in size, age structure, and average genetic relatedness over 25 months from 2003 to 2005. The distribution in group size has changed little since 1989, but the number of families with tusked old matriarchs has increased by 14.2%. Females from groups that lacked an old matriarch, first-order adult relatives, and strong social bonds had significantly higher fecal glucocorticoid values than those from groups with these features (all females R(2)= 0.31; females in multiadult groups R(2)= 0.46). Females that frequented isolated areas with historically high poaching risk had higher fecal glucocorticoid values than those in low poaching risk areas. Females with weak bonds and low group relatedness had significantly lower reproductive output (R(2)[U]=0.21). Females from disrupted groups, defined as having observed average group relatedness 1 SD below the expected mean for a simulated unpoached family, had significantly lower reproductive output than females from intact groups, despite many being in their reproductive prime. These results suggest that long-term negative impacts from poaching of old, related matriarchs have persisted among adult female elephants 1.5 decades after the 1989 ivory ban was implemented. PMID:18759771

  12. Small reservoirs in the West African savanna: Usage, monitoring and impact (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Van De Giesen, N.; Liebe, J. R.; Annor, F.; Andreini, M.

    2013-12-01

    The West African savanna is dotted with thousands of small reservoirs. These reservoirs were primarily built for irrigation purposes, supplying supplementary irrigation in the rainy season and full irrigation in the dry season. Some reservoirs were specifically constructed for watering cattle. Most reservoirs, however, now fulfill a multitude of functions in addition to irrigation and cattle watering, such as fishing, bathing, household water, supply of construction materials, and recreation. In the framework of the Small Reservoirs Project (www.smallreservoirs.org), extensive research has been undertaken over the past ten years that addresses the functioning of these reservoirs and the development of new monitoring methods. This presentation will give a general overview of our findings with respect to history, usage, and hydrological impact of small reservoirs in West Africa. In general, no comprehensive databases are available to local and national governments that contain all reservoirs and their attributes. Remote sensing, therefore, offers an interesting alternative to produce inventories of small reservoirs in a cost effective way. The most straightforward application is the mapping of small reservoirs with the aid of optical satellite images. Open water tends to stand out clearly from its surroundings in such images, allowing for relatively accurate determination of the location and surface area of the reservoirs. An important early discovery was that within a given geomorphological region, there is a very good correlation between surface area and storage volume. Once this correlation is established through a small sub-sample of the reservoirs, all volumes can be calculated on the basis of surfaces as determined through remote sensing. In turn, this opens up the opportunity to monitor water storage over the year by means of satellite images. Optical images are usually not available during large parts of the year due to cloud cover. This holds especially true

  13. Effect of calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation on several parameters of calcium status in plasma and urine of captive Asian (Elephas maximus) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    van Sonsbeek, Gerda R; van der Kolk, Johannes H; van Leeuwen, Johannes P T M; Everts, Hendrik; Marais, Johan; Schaftenaar, Willem

    2013-09-01

    The aim of the current study was to assess the effect of oral calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation on several parameters of calcium status in plasma and urine of captive Asian (Elephas maximus; n=10) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana; n=6) and to detect potential species differences. Calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation were investigated in a feeding trial using a crossover design consisting of five periods of 28 days each in summer. From days 28-56 (period 2), elephants were fed the Ca-supplemented diet and from days 84-112, elephants were fed the cholecalciferol-supplemented diet (period 4). The control diet was fed during the other periods and was based on their regular ration, and the study was repeated similarly during winter. Periods 1, 3, and 5 were regarded as washout periods. This study revealed species-specific differences with reference to calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation. Asian elephants showed a significant increase in mean plasma total calcium concentration following calcium supplementation during summer, suggesting summer-associated subclinical hypocalcemia in Western Europe. During winter, no effect was seen after oral calcium supplementation, but a significant increase was seen both in mean plasma, total, and ionized calcium concentrations after cholecalciferol supplementation in Asian elephants. In contrast, evidence of subclinical hypocalcemia could be demonstrated neither in summer nor in winter in African elephants, although 28 days of cholecalciferol supplementation during winter reversed the decrease in plasma 1,25(OH)2-cholecalciferol and was followed by a significant increase in mean plasma total calcium concentration. Preliminary findings indicate that the advisable permanent daily intake for calcium in Asian elephants and cholecalciferol in both elephant species at least during winter might be higher than current guidelines. It is strongly recommended to monitor blood calcium concentrations and, if

  14. Effect of calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation on several parameters of calcium status in plasma and urine of captive Asian (Elephas maximus) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    van Sonsbeek, Gerda R; van der Kolk, Johannes H; van Leeuwen, Johannes P T M; Everts, Hendrik; Marais, Johan; Schaftenaar, Willem

    2013-09-01

    The aim of the current study was to assess the effect of oral calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation on several parameters of calcium status in plasma and urine of captive Asian (Elephas maximus; n=10) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana; n=6) and to detect potential species differences. Calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation were investigated in a feeding trial using a crossover design consisting of five periods of 28 days each in summer. From days 28-56 (period 2), elephants were fed the Ca-supplemented diet and from days 84-112, elephants were fed the cholecalciferol-supplemented diet (period 4). The control diet was fed during the other periods and was based on their regular ration, and the study was repeated similarly during winter. Periods 1, 3, and 5 were regarded as washout periods. This study revealed species-specific differences with reference to calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation. Asian elephants showed a significant increase in mean plasma total calcium concentration following calcium supplementation during summer, suggesting summer-associated subclinical hypocalcemia in Western Europe. During winter, no effect was seen after oral calcium supplementation, but a significant increase was seen both in mean plasma, total, and ionized calcium concentrations after cholecalciferol supplementation in Asian elephants. In contrast, evidence of subclinical hypocalcemia could be demonstrated neither in summer nor in winter in African elephants, although 28 days of cholecalciferol supplementation during winter reversed the decrease in plasma 1,25(OH)2-cholecalciferol and was followed by a significant increase in mean plasma total calcium concentration. Preliminary findings indicate that the advisable permanent daily intake for calcium in Asian elephants and cholecalciferol in both elephant species at least during winter might be higher than current guidelines. It is strongly recommended to monitor blood calcium concentrations and, if

  15. Response of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) to Seasonal Changes in Rainfall

    PubMed Central

    Garstang, Michael; Davis, Robert E.; Leggett, Keith; Frauenfeld, Oliver W.; Greco, Steven; Zipser, Edward; Peterson, Michael

    2014-01-01

    The factors that trigger sudden, seasonal movements of elephants are uncertain. We hypothesized that savannah elephant movements at the end of the dry season may be a response to their detection of distant thunderstorms. Nine elephants carrying Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers were tracked over seven years in the extremely dry and rugged region of northwestern Namibia. The transition date from dry to wet season conditions was determined annually from surface- and satellite-derived rainfall. The distance, location, and timing of rain events relative to the elephants were determined using the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) satellite precipitation observations. Behavioral Change Point Analysis (BCPA) was applied to four of these seven years demonstrating a response in movement of these elephants to intra- and inter-seasonal occurrences of rainfall. Statistically significant changes in movement were found prior to or near the time of onset of the wet season and before the occurrence of wet episodes within the dry season, although the characteristics of the movement changes are not consistent between elephants and years. Elephants in overlapping ranges, but following separate tracks, exhibited statistically valid non-random near-simultaneous changes in movements when rainfall was occurring more than 100 km from their location. While the environmental trigger that causes these excursions remains uncertain, rain-system generated infrasound, which can travel such distances and be detected by elephants, is a possible trigger for such changes in movement. PMID:25299514

  16. Response of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) to seasonal changes in rainfall.

    PubMed

    Garstang, Michael; Davis, Robert E; Leggett, Keith; Frauenfeld, Oliver W; Greco, Steven; Zipser, Edward; Peterson, Michael

    2014-01-01

    The factors that trigger sudden, seasonal movements of elephants are uncertain. We hypothesized that savannah elephant movements at the end of the dry season may be a response to their detection of distant thunderstorms. Nine elephants carrying Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers were tracked over seven years in the extremely dry and rugged region of northwestern Namibia. The transition date from dry to wet season conditions was determined annually from surface- and satellite-derived rainfall. The distance, location, and timing of rain events relative to the elephants were determined using the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) satellite precipitation observations. Behavioral Change Point Analysis (BCPA) was applied to four of these seven years demonstrating a response in movement of these elephants to intra- and inter-seasonal occurrences of rainfall. Statistically significant changes in movement were found prior to or near the time of onset of the wet season and before the occurrence of wet episodes within the dry season, although the characteristics of the movement changes are not consistent between elephants and years. Elephants in overlapping ranges, but following separate tracks, exhibited statistically valid non-random near-simultaneous changes in movements when rainfall was occurring more than 100 km from their location. While the environmental trigger that causes these excursions remains uncertain, rain-system generated infrasound, which can travel such distances and be detected by elephants, is a possible trigger for such changes in movement.

  17. Response of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) to seasonal changes in rainfall.

    PubMed

    Garstang, Michael; Davis, Robert E; Leggett, Keith; Frauenfeld, Oliver W; Greco, Steven; Zipser, Edward; Peterson, Michael

    2014-01-01

    The factors that trigger sudden, seasonal movements of elephants are uncertain. We hypothesized that savannah elephant movements at the end of the dry season may be a response to their detection of distant thunderstorms. Nine elephants carrying Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers were tracked over seven years in the extremely dry and rugged region of northwestern Namibia. The transition date from dry to wet season conditions was determined annually from surface- and satellite-derived rainfall. The distance, location, and timing of rain events relative to the elephants were determined using the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) satellite precipitation observations. Behavioral Change Point Analysis (BCPA) was applied to four of these seven years demonstrating a response in movement of these elephants to intra- and inter-seasonal occurrences of rainfall. Statistically significant changes in movement were found prior to or near the time of onset of the wet season and before the occurrence of wet episodes within the dry season, although the characteristics of the movement changes are not consistent between elephants and years. Elephants in overlapping ranges, but following separate tracks, exhibited statistically valid non-random near-simultaneous changes in movements when rainfall was occurring more than 100 km from their location. While the environmental trigger that causes these excursions remains uncertain, rain-system generated infrasound, which can travel such distances and be detected by elephants, is a possible trigger for such changes in movement. PMID:25299514

  18. Topo-edaphic controls over woody plant biomass in South African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colgan, M. S.; Asner, G. P.; Levick, S. R.; Martin, R. E.; Chadwick, O. A.

    2012-01-01

    The distribution of woody biomass in savannas reflects spatial patterns fundamental to ecosystem processes, such as water flow, competition, and herbivory, and is a key contributor to savanna ecosystem services, such as fuelwood supply. While total precipitation sets an upper bound on savanna woody biomass, the extent to which substrate and terrain constrain trees and shrubs below this maximum remains poorly understood, often occluded by local-scale disturbances such as fire and trampling. Here we investigate the role of hillslope topography and soil properties in controlling woody plant aboveground biomass (AGB) in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Large-area sampling with airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provided a means to average across local-scale disturbances, revealing an unexpectedly linear relationship between AGB and hillslope-position on basalts, where biomass levels were lowest on crests, and linearly increased toward streams (R2 = 0.91). The observed pattern was different on granite substrates, where AGB exhibited a strongly non-linear relationship with hillslope position: AGB was high on crests, decreased midslope, and then increased near stream channels (R2 = 0.87). Overall, we observed 5-to-8-fold lower AGB on clayey, basalt-derived soil than on granites, and we suggest this is due to herbivore-fire interactions rather than lower hydraulic conductivity or clay shrinkage/swelling, as previously hypothesized. By mapping AGB within and outside fire and herbivore exclosures, we found that basalt-derived soils support tenfold higher AGB in the absence of fire and herbivory, suggesting high clay content alone is not a~proximal limitation on AGB. Understanding how fire and herbivory contribute to AGB heterogeneity is critical to predicting future savanna carbon storage under a changing climate.

  19. Topo-edaphic controls over woody plant biomass in South African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colgan, M. S.; Asner, G. P.; Levick, S. R.; Martin, R. E.; Chadwick, O. A.

    2012-05-01

    The distribution of woody biomass in savannas reflects spatial patterns fundamental to ecosystem processes, such as water flow, competition, and herbivory, and is a key contributor to savanna ecosystem services, such as fuelwood supply. While total precipitation sets an upper bound on savanna woody biomass, the extent to which substrate and terrain constrain trees and shrubs below this maximum remains poorly understood, often occluded by local-scale disturbances such as fire and trampling. Here we investigate the role of hillslope topography and soil properties in controlling woody plant aboveground biomass (AGB) in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Large-area sampling with airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provided a means to average across local-scale disturbances, revealing an unexpectedly linear relationship between AGB and hillslope-position on basalts, where biomass levels were lowest on crests, and linearly increased toward streams (R2 = 0.91). The observed pattern was different on granite substrates, where AGB exhibited a strongly non-linear relationship with hillslope position: AGB was high on crests, decreased midslope, and then increased near stream channels (R2 = 0.87). Overall, we observed 5-to-8-fold lower AGB on clayey, basalt-derived soil than on granites, and we suggest this is due to herbivore-fire interactions rather than lower hydraulic conductivity or clay shrinkage/swelling, as previously hypothesized. By mapping AGB within and outside fire and herbivore exclosures, we found that basalt-derived soils support tenfold higher AGB in the absence of fire and herbivory, suggesting high clay content alone is not a proximal limitation on AGB. Understanding how fire and herbivory contribute to AGB heterogeneity is critical to predicting future savanna carbon storage under a changing climate.

  20. Recumbence Behavior in Zoo Elephants: Determination of Patterns and Frequency of Recumbent Rest and Associated Environmental and Social Factors

    PubMed Central

    Holdgate, Matthew R.; Meehan, Cheryl L.; Hogan, Jennifer N.; Miller, Lance J.; Rushen, Jeff; de Passillé, Anne Marie; Soltis, Joseph; Andrews, Jeff; Shepherdson, David J.

    2016-01-01

    Resting behaviors are an essential component of animal welfare but have received little attention in zoological research. African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) rest includes recumbent postures, but no large-scale investigation of African and Asian zoo elephant recumbence has been previously conducted. We used anklets equipped with accelerometers to measure recumbence in 72 adult female African (n = 44) and Asian (n = 28) elephants housed in 40 North American zoos. We collected 344 days of data and determined associations between recumbence and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. African elephants were recumbent less (2.1 hours/day, S.D. = 1.1) than Asian elephants (3.2 hours/day, S.D. = 1.5; P < 0.001). Nearly one-third of elephants were non-recumbent on at least one night, suggesting this is a common behavior. Multi-variable regression models for each species showed that substrate, space, and social variables had the strongest associations with recumbence. In the African model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-hard substrate were recumbent 0.6 hours less per day than those who were never on all-hard substrate, and elephants who experienced an additional acre of outdoor space at night increased their recumbence by 0.48 hours per day. In the Asian model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-soft substrate were recumbent 1.1 hours more per day more than those who were never on all-soft substrate, and elephants who spent any amount of time housed alone were recumbent 0.77 hours more per day than elephants who were never housed alone. Our results draw attention to the significant interspecific difference in the amount of recumbent rest and in the factors affecting recumbence; however, in both species, the influence of flooring substrate is notably important to recumbent rest, and by extension, zoo elephant welfare. PMID:27414809

  1. Recumbence Behavior in Zoo Elephants: Determination of Patterns and Frequency of Recumbent Rest and Associated Environmental and Social Factors.

    PubMed

    Holdgate, Matthew R; Meehan, Cheryl L; Hogan, Jennifer N; Miller, Lance J; Rushen, Jeff; de Passillé, Anne Marie; Soltis, Joseph; Andrews, Jeff; Shepherdson, David J

    2016-01-01

    Resting behaviors are an essential component of animal welfare but have received little attention in zoological research. African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) rest includes recumbent postures, but no large-scale investigation of African and Asian zoo elephant recumbence has been previously conducted. We used anklets equipped with accelerometers to measure recumbence in 72 adult female African (n = 44) and Asian (n = 28) elephants housed in 40 North American zoos. We collected 344 days of data and determined associations between recumbence and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. African elephants were recumbent less (2.1 hours/day, S.D. = 1.1) than Asian elephants (3.2 hours/day, S.D. = 1.5; P < 0.001). Nearly one-third of elephants were non-recumbent on at least one night, suggesting this is a common behavior. Multi-variable regression models for each species showed that substrate, space, and social variables had the strongest associations with recumbence. In the African model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-hard substrate were recumbent 0.6 hours less per day than those who were never on all-hard substrate, and elephants who experienced an additional acre of outdoor space at night increased their recumbence by 0.48 hours per day. In the Asian model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-soft substrate were recumbent 1.1 hours more per day more than those who were never on all-soft substrate, and elephants who spent any amount of time housed alone were recumbent 0.77 hours more per day than elephants who were never housed alone. Our results draw attention to the significant interspecific difference in the amount of recumbent rest and in the factors affecting recumbence; however, in both species, the influence of flooring substrate is notably important to recumbent rest, and by extension, zoo elephant welfare. PMID:27414809

  2. Phosphate-haemoglobin interaction. The primary structure of the haemoglobin of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana, Proboscidea): asparagine in position 2 of the beta-chain.

    PubMed

    Braunitzer, G; Stangl, A; Schrank, B; Krombach, C; Wiesner, H

    1984-07-01

    The primary structure of the haemoglobin of the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is reported. The sequence was determined by means of a sequenator. The haemoglobin differs in 26 amino acids in the alpha-chains and in 27 in the beta-chains from that of adult human haemoglobin. The haemoglobin of the African Elephant, like that of the Indian Elephant and Ilama, has only 5 binding sites for polyphosphate. This finding explains the low p(O2)50 value in whole blood as a result of the lower 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate-haemoglobin interaction. This is discussed in relation to aspects of respiratory physiology; some points are also of interest with regard to the Second Punic War and Hannibal's crossing of the Alps.

  3. Impacts of large herbivorous mammals on bird diversity and abundance in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Ogada, D L; Gadd, M E; Ostfeld, R S; Young, T P; Keesing, F

    2008-05-01

    Large native mammals are declining dramatically in abundance across Africa, with strong impacts on both plant and animal community dynamics. However, the net effects of this large-scale loss in megafauna are poorly understood because responses by several ecologically important groups have not been assessed. We used a large-scale, replicated exclusion experiment in Kenya to investigate the impacts of different guilds of native and domestic large herbivores on the diversity and abundance of birds over a 2-year period. The exclusion of large herbivorous native mammals, including zebras (Equus burchelli), giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis), elephants (Loxodonta africana), and buffalos (Syncerus caffer), increased the diversity of birds by 30%. Most of this effect was attributable to the absence of elephants and giraffes; these megaherbivores reduced both the canopy area of subdominant woody vegetation and the biomass of ground-dwelling arthropods, and both of these factors were good predictors of the diversity of birds. The canopy area of subdominant trees was positively correlated with the diversity of granivorous birds. The biomass of ground-dwelling arthropods was positively correlated with the diversity of insectivorous birds. Our results suggest that most native large herbivores are compatible with an abundant and diverse bird fauna, as are cattle if they are at a relatively low stocking rate. Future research should focus on determining the spatial arrangements and densities of megaherbivores that will optimize both megaherbivore abundance and bird diversity.

  4. The mummified brain of a pleistocene woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) compared with the brain of the extant African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Kharlamova, Anastasia S; Saveliev, Sergei V; Protopopov, Albert V; Maseko, Busisiwe C; Bhagwandin, Adhil; Manger, Paul R

    2015-11-01

    This study presents the results of an examination of the mummified brain of a pleistocene woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) recovered from the Yakutian permafrost in Siberia, Russia. This unique specimen (from 39,440-38,850 years BP) provides the rare opportunity to compare the brain morphology of this extinct species with a related extant species, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana). An anatomical description of the preserved brain of the woolly mammoth is provided, along with a series of quantitative analyses of various brain structures. These descriptions are based on visual inspection of the actual specimen as well as qualitative and quantitative comparison of computed tomography imaging data obtained for the woolly mammoth in comparison with magnetic resonance imaging data from three African elephant brains. In general, the brain of the woolly mammoth specimen examined, estimated to weigh between 4,230 and 4,340 g, showed the typical shape, size, and gross structures observed in extant elephants. Quantitative comparative analyses of various features of the brain, such as the amygdala, corpus callosum, cerebellum, and gyrnecephalic index, all indicate that the brain of the woolly mammoth specimen examined has many similarities with that of modern African elephants. The analysis provided here indicates that a specific brain type representative of the Elephantidae is likely to be a feature of this mammalian family. In addition, the extensive similarities between the woolly mammoth brain and the African elephant brain indicate that the specializations observed in the extant elephant brain are likely to have been present in the woolly mammoth.

  5. The mummified brain of a pleistocene woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) compared with the brain of the extant African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Kharlamova, Anastasia S; Saveliev, Sergei V; Protopopov, Albert V; Maseko, Busisiwe C; Bhagwandin, Adhil; Manger, Paul R

    2015-11-01

    This study presents the results of an examination of the mummified brain of a pleistocene woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) recovered from the Yakutian permafrost in Siberia, Russia. This unique specimen (from 39,440-38,850 years BP) provides the rare opportunity to compare the brain morphology of this extinct species with a related extant species, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana). An anatomical description of the preserved brain of the woolly mammoth is provided, along with a series of quantitative analyses of various brain structures. These descriptions are based on visual inspection of the actual specimen as well as qualitative and quantitative comparison of computed tomography imaging data obtained for the woolly mammoth in comparison with magnetic resonance imaging data from three African elephant brains. In general, the brain of the woolly mammoth specimen examined, estimated to weigh between 4,230 and 4,340 g, showed the typical shape, size, and gross structures observed in extant elephants. Quantitative comparative analyses of various features of the brain, such as the amygdala, corpus callosum, cerebellum, and gyrnecephalic index, all indicate that the brain of the woolly mammoth specimen examined has many similarities with that of modern African elephants. The analysis provided here indicates that a specific brain type representative of the Elephantidae is likely to be a feature of this mammalian family. In addition, the extensive similarities between the woolly mammoth brain and the African elephant brain indicate that the specializations observed in the extant elephant brain are likely to have been present in the woolly mammoth. PMID:26011110

  6. Carbon, Water, and Energy Dynamics in a Savanna Mosaic: Results From an African Field Campaign

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williams, C. A.; Albertson, J. D.

    2002-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems cover a large fraction of the terrestrial landscape with a shifting mosaic of vegetation that is poorly understood. Vegetation dynamics in savannas are believed to be triggered by variation in climate forcing with potential local and regional scale feedbacks on climate and with nonlinear behavior, such as self-organization. Recent debate has brought attention to uncertainty regarding the role of savannas in global carbon and water cycles, identifying the need for data that can address the coupled water and carbon dynamics of these sensitive ecosystems. We report results from a 30-day field campaign conducted in southern Africa near Ghanzi, Botswana along the Kalahari Transect. This water-limited site is ideal for studies of soil and plant water relations because high spatial and temporal variability in rainfall has direct effects on vegetation function, extent, and composition. We characterized the functional response of tree/grass/bare soil mosaics during a prolonged drydown following a large rain event (85 mm) at the end of the 2002 wet season. Net radiation, sensible, latent and soil heat fluxes, carbon dioxide exchange, soil moisture, soil temperature, and vegetation temperatures were measured at two sites, one dominated by woody vegetation (Acacia and Terminalia) and the other composed of native grasses, shrubs, and bare soil. We characterized the vegetation structure within the footprints of both towers with measurements of leaf area, fractional vegetation cover, and profiles of aboveground and belowground biomass. Additionally, leaf-level gas exchange measurements were conducted on dominant species. Soil moisture decayed from a peak of 0.28 after the storm to 0.05, measured 5 cm below the soil surface. The drydown resulted in a continual increase in the daytime Bowen ratio, a decrease of leaf-level evapotranspiration, and reduced net ecosystem exchange of CO2. Biophysical differences between C3 trees and C4 grasses were evident from vapor

  7. Indirect effects of domestic and wild herbivores on butterflies in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Wilkerson, Marit L; Roche, Leslie M; Young, Truman P

    2013-10-01

    Indirect interactions driven by livestock and wild herbivores are increasingly recognized as important aspects of community dynamics in savannas and rangelands. Large ungulate herbivores can both directly and indirectly impact the reproductive structures of plants, which in turn can affect the pollinators of those plants. We examined how wild herbivores and cattle each indirectly affect the abundance of a common pollinator butterfly taxon, Colotis spp., at a set of long-term, large herbivore exclosure plots in a semiarid savanna in central Kenya. We also examined effects of herbivore exclusion on the main food plant of Colotis spp., which was also the most common flowering species in our plots: the shrub Cadaba farinosa. The study was conducted in four types of experimental plots: cattle-only, wildlife-only, cattle and wildlife (all large herbivores), and no large herbivores. Across all plots, Colotis spp. abundances were positively correlated with both Cadaba flower numbers (adult food resources) and total Cadaba canopy area (larval food resources). Structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed that floral resources drove the abundance of Colotis butterflies. Excluding browsing wildlife increased the abundances of both Cadaba flowers and Colotis butterflies. However, flower numbers and Colotis spp. abundances were greater in plots with cattle herbivory than in plots that excluded all large herbivores. Our results suggest that wild browsing herbivores can suppress pollinator species whereas well-managed cattle use may benefit important pollinators and the plants that depend on them. This study documents a novel set of ecological interactions that demonstrate how both conservation and livelihood goals can be met in a working landscape with abundant wildlife and livestock.

  8. Ovarian acyclicity in zoo African elephants (Loxodonta africana) is associated with high body condition scores and elevated serum insulin and leptin.

    PubMed

    Morfeld, Kari A; Brown, Janine L

    2016-04-01

    The purpose of the present study was to determine whether excessive body fat and altered metabolic hormone concentrations in the circulation were associated with ovarian acyclicity in the world's largest land mammal, the African elephant. We compared body condition, glucose, insulin and leptin concentrations and the glucose-to-insulin ratio (G:I) between cycling (n=23; normal 14-16 week cycles based on serum progestagens for at least 2 years) and non-cycling (n=23; consistent baseline progestagen concentrations for at least 2 years) females. A validated body condition score (BCS) index (five-point scale; 1=thinnest, 5=fattest) was used to assess the degree of fatness of the study elephants. The mean BCS of non-cycling elephants was higher than that of their cycling counterparts. There were differences in concentrations of serum metabolic biomarkers, with non-cycling elephants in the BCS 5 category having higher leptin and insulin concentrations and a lower G:I ratio than cycling BCS 5 females. Using 'non-cycling' as the outcome variable in regression models, high BCS was a strong predictor of a non-cycling status. This study provides the first evidence that ovarian acyclicity in zoo African elephants is associated with body condition indicative of obesity, as well as elevated, perturbed biomarkers of metabolic status.

  9. Standing sedation in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) using detomidine-butorphanol combinations.

    PubMed

    Neiffer, Donald L; Miller, Michele A; Weber, Martha; Stetter, Mark; Fontenot, Deidre K; Robbins, P K; Pye, Geoffrey W

    2005-06-01

    Standing sedation was provided for 14 clinical procedures in three African elephants (Loxodonta africana) managed by combined protected and modified-protected contact and trained through operant conditioning. An initial hand-injection of detomidine hydrochloride and butorphanol tartrate at a ratio of 1:1 on a microg:microg basis was administered intramuscularly, with a dosage range of 50-70 mg (12.9-19.7 microg/kg) for each drug. The initial injection resulted in adequate sedation for initiation and completion of eight procedures, whereas supplemental doses were required for the remaining procedures. The dosage range for the supplemental injections of each drug was 4.0-7.3 microg/kg. Initial effect was noted within 3.0-25 min (mean = 11.6 min, SD +/- 5.9 min), with maximal effect occurring at 25-30 min for those procedures not requiring supplementation. In all but one procedure, this effect was maintained until the end of the procedure, which ranged from 47 to 98 min (mean = 74.7 min, SD +/- 18.8 min). No cardiac or respiratory depression was appreciated. Recovery after administration of reversal agents was rapid and complete, ranging from 2 to 20 min (mean = 9.0 min, SD +/- 7.0 min). On the basis of the authors' experience, recommended dosage ranges for reversal agents would be intravenous yohimbine (73.4-98.5 microg/kg), intravenous naltrexone (48.9-98.5 microg/kg), and intramuscular naltrexone (73.4-98.5 microg/kg). Approximately one-third to one-half of the total naltrexone dose should be administered intravenously. Mild adverse side effects limited to the gastrointestinal tract were observed in association with five procedures including abdominal distention with or without transient anorexia. Administration of reversal agents, encouraging exercise and water consumption, and administration of flunixin meglumine were helpful in the resolution of signs. In addition to gastrointestinal signs, slight ataxia was observed before initiation of surgical stimulation

  10. Standing sedation in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) using detomidine-butorphanol combinations.

    PubMed

    Neiffer, Donald L; Miller, Michele A; Weber, Martha; Stetter, Mark; Fontenot, Deidre K; Robbins, P K; Pye, Geoffrey W

    2005-06-01

    Standing sedation was provided for 14 clinical procedures in three African elephants (Loxodonta africana) managed by combined protected and modified-protected contact and trained through operant conditioning. An initial hand-injection of detomidine hydrochloride and butorphanol tartrate at a ratio of 1:1 on a microg:microg basis was administered intramuscularly, with a dosage range of 50-70 mg (12.9-19.7 microg/kg) for each drug. The initial injection resulted in adequate sedation for initiation and completion of eight procedures, whereas supplemental doses were required for the remaining procedures. The dosage range for the supplemental injections of each drug was 4.0-7.3 microg/kg. Initial effect was noted within 3.0-25 min (mean = 11.6 min, SD +/- 5.9 min), with maximal effect occurring at 25-30 min for those procedures not requiring supplementation. In all but one procedure, this effect was maintained until the end of the procedure, which ranged from 47 to 98 min (mean = 74.7 min, SD +/- 18.8 min). No cardiac or respiratory depression was appreciated. Recovery after administration of reversal agents was rapid and complete, ranging from 2 to 20 min (mean = 9.0 min, SD +/- 7.0 min). On the basis of the authors' experience, recommended dosage ranges for reversal agents would be intravenous yohimbine (73.4-98.5 microg/kg), intravenous naltrexone (48.9-98.5 microg/kg), and intramuscular naltrexone (73.4-98.5 microg/kg). Approximately one-third to one-half of the total naltrexone dose should be administered intravenously. Mild adverse side effects limited to the gastrointestinal tract were observed in association with five procedures including abdominal distention with or without transient anorexia. Administration of reversal agents, encouraging exercise and water consumption, and administration of flunixin meglumine were helpful in the resolution of signs. In addition to gastrointestinal signs, slight ataxia was observed before initiation of surgical stimulation

  11. Lack of spatial and behavioral responses to immunocontraception application in African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Delsink, Audrey K; Kirkpatrick, Jay; van Altena, J J; Bertschinger, Henk J; Ferreira, Sam M; Slotow, Robert

    2013-12-01

    Opinions are divided as to whether human intervention to control elephant (Loxodonta africana) population growth is desirable, partly because of elephant welfare concerns. Female contraception through immunization with porcine zona pellucida (PZP) proteins is viable. The effects of sustained use and application of the PZP vaccine on elephant behavioral and spatial responses were examined by evaluating herd ranging, fission-fusion dynamics, association patterns, and reproductive and sexual behaviors. Minimal change was anticipated as a result of long calf dependence on and association with cows, a reduced but not indefinite 0% growth rate and the known mechanism of action of PZP vaccines, and minimal expected change in resource requirements necessitating behavioral or spatial use adaptations. Although behavioral effects identified in previous hormonal contraceptive trials were evident, it was demonstrated that immunocontraception caused no prolonged behavioral, social, or spatial changes over the 11-yr study period. Individually identified elephants were monitored from 1999 to 2011. Minimal, short-term social disruption, with temporary changes to the herds' core ranges, was observed during the annual treatment events, particularly in the first three treatment years, when vaccinations were conducted exclusively from the ground. Thereafter, when vaccinations were conducted aerially, minor disruptions were confined to the morning of administration only. Despite sustained treatments resulting in demographic changes of fewer calves being born, treatments did not alter spatial range use, and no adverse interherd-intraherd relations were observed. Similarly, resource requirements did not change as calving still occurred, although in fewer numbers. It was concluded that PZP immunocontraception has no detectable behavioral or social consequences in elephants over the course of 11 yr, providing a convincing argument for the use of sustained immunocontraception in the medium

  12. Lack of spatial and behavioral responses to immunocontraception application in African elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Delsink, Audrey K; Kirkpatrick, Jay; van Altena, J J; Bertschinger, Henk J; Ferreira, Sam M; Slotow, Robert

    2013-12-01

    Opinions are divided as to whether human intervention to control elephant (Loxodonta africana) population growth is desirable, partly because of elephant welfare concerns. Female contraception through immunization with porcine zona pellucida (PZP) proteins is viable. The effects of sustained use and application of the PZP vaccine on elephant behavioral and spatial responses were examined by evaluating herd ranging, fission-fusion dynamics, association patterns, and reproductive and sexual behaviors. Minimal change was anticipated as a result of long calf dependence on and association with cows, a reduced but not indefinite 0% growth rate and the known mechanism of action of PZP vaccines, and minimal expected change in resource requirements necessitating behavioral or spatial use adaptations. Although behavioral effects identified in previous hormonal contraceptive trials were evident, it was demonstrated that immunocontraception caused no prolonged behavioral, social, or spatial changes over the 11-yr study period. Individually identified elephants were monitored from 1999 to 2011. Minimal, short-term social disruption, with temporary changes to the herds' core ranges, was observed during the annual treatment events, particularly in the first three treatment years, when vaccinations were conducted exclusively from the ground. Thereafter, when vaccinations were conducted aerially, minor disruptions were confined to the morning of administration only. Despite sustained treatments resulting in demographic changes of fewer calves being born, treatments did not alter spatial range use, and no adverse interherd-intraherd relations were observed. Similarly, resource requirements did not change as calving still occurred, although in fewer numbers. It was concluded that PZP immunocontraception has no detectable behavioral or social consequences in elephants over the course of 11 yr, providing a convincing argument for the use of sustained immunocontraception in the medium

  13. Tree foliar chemistry in an African savanna and its relation to life history strategies and environmental filters.

    PubMed

    Colgan, Matthew S; Martin, Roberta E; Baldeck, Claire A; Asner, Gregory P

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relative importance of environment and life history strategies in determining leaf chemical traits remains a key objective of plant ecology. We assessed 20 foliar chemical properties among 12 African savanna woody plant species and their relation to environmental variables (hillslope position, precipitation, geology) and two functional traits (thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism). We found that combinations of six leaf chemical traits (lignin, hemi-cellulose, zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese) predicted the species with 91% accuracy. Hillslope position, precipitation, and geology accounted for only 12% of the total variance in these six chemical traits. However, thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism accounted for 46% of variance in these chemical traits. The physically defended species had the highest concentrations of hemi-cellulose and boron. Species without physical defense had the highest lignin content if dispersed by vertebrates, but threefold lower lignin content if dispersed by wind. One of the most abundant woody species in southern Africa, Colophospermum mopane, was found to have the highest foliar concentrations of zinc, phosphorus, and δ(13)C, suggesting that zinc chelation may be used by this species to bind metallic toxins and increase uptake of soil phosphorus. Across all studied species, taxonomy and physical traits accounted for the majority of variability in leaf chemistry. PMID:25993539

  14. Tree foliar chemistry in an African savanna and its relation to life history strategies and environmental filters.

    PubMed

    Colgan, Matthew S; Martin, Roberta E; Baldeck, Claire A; Asner, Gregory P

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relative importance of environment and life history strategies in determining leaf chemical traits remains a key objective of plant ecology. We assessed 20 foliar chemical properties among 12 African savanna woody plant species and their relation to environmental variables (hillslope position, precipitation, geology) and two functional traits (thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism). We found that combinations of six leaf chemical traits (lignin, hemi-cellulose, zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese) predicted the species with 91% accuracy. Hillslope position, precipitation, and geology accounted for only 12% of the total variance in these six chemical traits. However, thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism accounted for 46% of variance in these chemical traits. The physically defended species had the highest concentrations of hemi-cellulose and boron. Species without physical defense had the highest lignin content if dispersed by vertebrates, but threefold lower lignin content if dispersed by wind. One of the most abundant woody species in southern Africa, Colophospermum mopane, was found to have the highest foliar concentrations of zinc, phosphorus, and δ(13)C, suggesting that zinc chelation may be used by this species to bind metallic toxins and increase uptake of soil phosphorus. Across all studied species, taxonomy and physical traits accounted for the majority of variability in leaf chemistry.

  15. Tree Foliar Chemistry in an African Savanna and Its Relation to Life History Strategies and Environmental Filters

    PubMed Central

    Colgan, Matthew S.; Martin, Roberta E.; Baldeck, Claire A.; Asner, Gregory P.

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relative importance of environment and life history strategies in determining leaf chemical traits remains a key objective of plant ecology. We assessed 20 foliar chemical properties among 12 African savanna woody plant species and their relation to environmental variables (hillslope position, precipitation, geology) and two functional traits (thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism). We found that combinations of six leaf chemical traits (lignin, hemi-cellulose, zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese) predicted the species with 91% accuracy. Hillslope position, precipitation, and geology accounted for only 12% of the total variance in these six chemical traits. However, thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism accounted for 46% of variance in these chemical traits. The physically defended species had the highest concentrations of hemi-cellulose and boron. Species without physical defense had the highest lignin content if dispersed by vertebrates, but threefold lower lignin content if dispersed by wind. One of the most abundant woody species in southern Africa, Colophospermum mopane, was found to have the highest foliar concentrations of zinc, phosphorus, and δ13C, suggesting that zinc chelation may be used by this species to bind metallic toxins and increase uptake of soil phosphorus. Across all studied species, taxonomy and physical traits accounted for the majority of variability in leaf chemistry. PMID:25993539

  16. The relationship between satellite-derived indices and species diversity across African savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mapfumo, Ratidzo B.; Murwira, Amon; Masocha, Mhosisi; Andriani, R.

    2016-10-01

    The ability to use remotely sensed diversity is important for the management of ecosystems at large spatial extents. However, to achieve this, there is still need to develop robust methods and approaches that enable large-scale mapping of species diversity. In this study, we tested the relationship between species diversity measured in situ with the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the Coefficient of Variation in the NDVI (CVNDVI) derived from high and medium spatial resolution satellite data at dry, wet and coastal savanna woodlands. We further tested the effect of logging on NDVI along the transects and between transects as disturbance may be a mechanism driving the patterns observed. Overall, the results of this study suggest that high tree species diversity is associated with low and high NDVI and at intermediate levels is associated with low tree species diversity and NDVI. High tree species diversity is associated with high CVNDVI and vice versa and at intermediate levels is associated with high tree species diversity and CVNDVI.

  17. Age group estimation in free-ranging African elephants based on acoustic cues of low-frequency rumbles

    PubMed Central

    Stoeger, Angela S.; Zeppelzauer, Matthias; Baotic, Anton

    2015-01-01

    Animal vocal signals are increasingly used to monitor wildlife populations and to obtain estimates of species occurrence and abundance. In the future, acoustic monitoring should function not only to detect animals, but also to extract detailed information about populations by discriminating sexes, age groups, social or kin groups, and potentially individuals. Here we show that it is possible to estimate age groups of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) based on acoustic parameters extracted from rumbles recorded under field conditions in a National Park in South Africa. Statistical models reached up to 70 % correct classification to four age groups (infants, calves, juveniles, adults) and 95 % correct classification when categorising into two groups (infants/calves lumped into one group versus adults). The models revealed that parameters representing absolute frequency values have the most discriminative power. Comparable classification results were obtained by fully automated classification of rumbles by high-dimensional features that represent the entire spectral envelope, such as MFCC (75 % correct classification) and GFCC (74 % correct classification). The reported results and methods provide the scientific foundation for a future system that could potentially automatically estimate the demography of an acoustically monitored elephant group or population. PMID:25821348

  18. Elucidating the significance of spatial memory on movement decisions by African savannah elephants using state–space models

    PubMed Central

    Polansky, Leo; Kilian, Werner; Wittemyer, George

    2015-01-01

    Spatial memory facilitates resource acquisition where resources are patchy, but how it influences movement behaviour of wide-ranging species remains to be resolved. We examined African elephant spatial memory reflected in movement decisions regarding access to perennial waterholes. State–space models of movement data revealed a rapid, highly directional movement behaviour almost exclusively associated with visiting perennial water. Behavioural change point (BCP) analyses demonstrated that these goal-oriented movements were initiated on average 4.59 km, and up to 49.97 km, from the visited waterhole, with the closest waterhole accessed 90% of the time. Distances of decision points increased when switching to different waterholes, during the dry season, or for female groups relative to males, while selection of the closest waterhole decreased when switching. Overall, our analyses indicated detailed spatial knowledge over large scales, enabling elephants to minimize travel distance through highly directional movement when accessing water. We discuss the likely cognitive and socioecological mechanisms driving these spatially precise movements that are most consistent with our findings. By applying modern analytic techniques to high-resolution movement data, this study illustrates emerging approaches for studying how cognition structures animal movement behaviour in different ecological and social contexts. PMID:25808888

  19. Elucidating the significance of spatial memory on movement decisions by African savannah elephants using state-space models.

    PubMed

    Polansky, Leo; Kilian, Werner; Wittemyer, George

    2015-04-22

    Spatial memory facilitates resource acquisition where resources are patchy, but how it influences movement behaviour of wide-ranging species remains to be resolved. We examined African elephant spatial memory reflected in movement decisions regarding access to perennial waterholes. State-space models of movement data revealed a rapid, highly directional movement behaviour almost exclusively associated with visiting perennial water. Behavioural change point (BCP) analyses demonstrated that these goal-oriented movements were initiated on average 4.59 km, and up to 49.97 km, from the visited waterhole, with the closest waterhole accessed 90% of the time. Distances of decision points increased when switching to different waterholes, during the dry season, or for female groups relative to males, while selection of the closest waterhole decreased when switching. Overall, our analyses indicated detailed spatial knowledge over large scales, enabling elephants to minimize travel distance through highly directional movement when accessing water. We discuss the likely cognitive and socioecological mechanisms driving these spatially precise movements that are most consistent with our findings. By applying modern analytic techniques to high-resolution movement data, this study illustrates emerging approaches for studying how cognition structures animal movement behaviour in different ecological and social contexts.

  20. Highly Accurate Antibody Assays for Early and Rapid Detection of Tuberculosis in African and Asian Elephants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Tuberculosis (TB) in elephants is a re-emerging zoonotic disease caused primarily by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Current methods for screening and diagnosis rely on trunk wash culture, which has serious limitations due to low test sensitivity, slow turn-around time, and variable sample quality. Inn...

  1. Trace gas emissions to the atmosphere by biomass burning in the west African savannas. Final report, 1 October 1991-31 March 1994

    SciTech Connect

    Frouin, R.J.; Iacobellis, S.F.; Razafimpanilo, H.; Somerville, R.C.J.

    1994-08-01

    Savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) detection and estimating burned area using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) reflectance data are investigated in this two part research project. The first part involves carbon dioxide flux estimates and a three-dimensional transport model to quantify the effect of North African savanna fires on atmospheric CO2 concentration, including CO2 spatial and temporal variability patterns and their significance to global emissions. The second article describes two methods used to determine burned area from AVHRR data. The article discusses the relationship between the percentage of burned area and AVHRR channel 2 reflectance (the linear method) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (the nonlinear method). A comparative performance analysis of each method is described.

  2. Use of handheld X-ray fluorescence as a non-invasive method to distinguish between Asian and African elephant tusks.

    PubMed

    Buddhachat, Kittisak; Thitaram, Chatchote; Brown, Janine L; Klinhom, Sarisa; Bansiddhi, Pakkanut; Penchart, Kitichaya; Ouitavon, Kanita; Sriaksorn, Khanittha; Pa-in, Chalermpol; Kanchanasaka, Budsabong; Somgird, Chaleamchat; Nganvongpanit, Korakot

    2016-01-01

    We describe the use of handheld X-ray fluorescence, for elephant tusk species identification. Asian (n = 72) and African (n = 85) elephant tusks were scanned and we utilized the species differences in elemental composition to develop a functional model differentiating between species with high precision. Spatially, the majority of measured elements (n = 26) exhibited a homogeneous distribution in cross-section, but a more heterologous pattern in the longitudinal direction. Twenty-one of twenty four elements differed between Asian and African samples. Data were subjected to hierarchical cluster analysis followed by a stepwise discriminant analysis, which identified elements for the functional equation. The best equation consisted of ratios of Si, S, Cl, Ti, Mn, Ag, Sb and W, with Zr as the denominator. Next, Bayesian binary regression model analysis was conducted to predict the probability that a tusk would be of African origin. A cut-off value was established to improve discrimination. This Bayesian hybrid classification model was then validated by scanning an additional 30 Asian and 41 African tusks, which showed high accuracy (94%) and precision (95%) rates. We conclude that handheld XRF is an accurate, non-invasive method to discriminate origin of elephant tusks provides rapid results applicable to use in the field.

  3. Use of handheld X-ray fluorescence as a non-invasive method to distinguish between Asian and African elephant tusks

    PubMed Central

    Buddhachat, Kittisak; Thitaram, Chatchote; Brown, Janine L.; Klinhom, Sarisa; Bansiddhi, Pakkanut; Penchart, Kitichaya; Ouitavon, Kanita; Sriaksorn, Khanittha; Pa-in, Chalermpol; Kanchanasaka, Budsabong; Somgird, Chaleamchat; Nganvongpanit, Korakot

    2016-01-01

    We describe the use of handheld X-ray fluorescence, for elephant tusk species identification. Asian (n = 72) and African (n = 85) elephant tusks were scanned and we utilized the species differences in elemental composition to develop a functional model differentiating between species with high precision. Spatially, the majority of measured elements (n = 26) exhibited a homogeneous distribution in cross-section, but a more heterologous pattern in the longitudinal direction. Twenty-one of twenty four elements differed between Asian and African samples. Data were subjected to hierarchical cluster analysis followed by a stepwise discriminant analysis, which identified elements for the functional equation. The best equation consisted of ratios of Si, S, Cl, Ti, Mn, Ag, Sb and W, with Zr as the denominator. Next, Bayesian binary regression model analysis was conducted to predict the probability that a tusk would be of African origin. A cut-off value was established to improve discrimination. This Bayesian hybrid classification model was then validated by scanning an additional 30 Asian and 41 African tusks, which showed high accuracy (94%) and precision (95%) rates. We conclude that handheld XRF is an accurate, non-invasive method to discriminate origin of elephant tusks provides rapid results applicable to use in the field. PMID:27097717

  4. Use of handheld X-ray fluorescence as a non-invasive method to distinguish between Asian and African elephant tusks.

    PubMed

    Buddhachat, Kittisak; Thitaram, Chatchote; Brown, Janine L; Klinhom, Sarisa; Bansiddhi, Pakkanut; Penchart, Kitichaya; Ouitavon, Kanita; Sriaksorn, Khanittha; Pa-in, Chalermpol; Kanchanasaka, Budsabong; Somgird, Chaleamchat; Nganvongpanit, Korakot

    2016-01-01

    We describe the use of handheld X-ray fluorescence, for elephant tusk species identification. Asian (n = 72) and African (n = 85) elephant tusks were scanned and we utilized the species differences in elemental composition to develop a functional model differentiating between species with high precision. Spatially, the majority of measured elements (n = 26) exhibited a homogeneous distribution in cross-section, but a more heterologous pattern in the longitudinal direction. Twenty-one of twenty four elements differed between Asian and African samples. Data were subjected to hierarchical cluster analysis followed by a stepwise discriminant analysis, which identified elements for the functional equation. The best equation consisted of ratios of Si, S, Cl, Ti, Mn, Ag, Sb and W, with Zr as the denominator. Next, Bayesian binary regression model analysis was conducted to predict the probability that a tusk would be of African origin. A cut-off value was established to improve discrimination. This Bayesian hybrid classification model was then validated by scanning an additional 30 Asian and 41 African tusks, which showed high accuracy (94%) and precision (95%) rates. We conclude that handheld XRF is an accurate, non-invasive method to discriminate origin of elephant tusks provides rapid results applicable to use in the field. PMID:27097717

  5. The three-dimensional locomotor dynamics of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants reveal a smooth gait transition at moderate speed

    PubMed Central

    Ren, Lei; Hutchinson, John R

    2007-01-01

    We examined whether elephants shift to using bouncing (i.e. running) mechanics at any speed. To do this, we measured the three-dimensional centre of mass (CM) motions and torso rotations of African and Asian elephants using a novel multisensor method. Hundreds of continuous stride cycles were recorded in the field. African and Asian elephants moved very similarly. Near the mechanically and metabolically optimal speed (a Froude number (Fr) of 0.09), an inverted pendulum mechanism predominated. With increasing speed, the locomotor dynamics quickly but continuously became less like vaulting and more like bouncing. Our mechanical energy analysis of the CM suggests that at a surprisingly slow speed (approx. 2.2 m s−1, Fr 0.25), the hindlimbs exhibited bouncing, not vaulting, mechanics during weight support. We infer that a gait transition happens at this relatively slow speed: elephants begin using their compliant hindlimbs like pogo sticks to some extent to drive the body, bouncing over their relatively stiff, vaulting forelimbs. Hence, they are not as rigid limbed as typically characterized for graviportal animals, and use regular walking as well as at least one form of running gait. PMID:17594960

  6. A Novel Objective Method of Estimating the Age of Mandibles from African Elephants (Loxodonta africana Africana)

    PubMed Central

    Stansfield, Fiona J.

    2015-01-01

    The importance of assigning an accurate estimate of age and sex to elephant carcasses found in the wild has increased in recent years with the escalation in levels of poaching throughout Africa. Irregularities identified in current ageing techniques prompted the development of a new method to describe molar progression throughout life. Elephant mandibles (n = 323) were studied and a point near the distal dental alveolus was identified as being most useful in ranking each jaw according to molar progression. These ‘Age Reference Lines’ were then associated with an age scale based on previous studies and Zimbabwean mandibles of known age. The new ranking produced a single age scale that proved useful for both male and female mandibles up to the maximum lifespan age of 70–75 years. Methods to aid in molar identification and the sexing of found jaws were also identified. PMID:25970428

  7. A Novel Objective Method of Estimating the Age of Mandibles from African Elephants (Loxodonta africana Africana).

    PubMed

    Stansfield, Fiona J

    2015-01-01

    The importance of assigning an accurate estimate of age and sex to elephant carcasses found in the wild has increased in recent years with the escalation in levels of poaching throughout Africa. Irregularities identified in current ageing techniques prompted the development of a new method to describe molar progression throughout life. Elephant mandibles (n = 323) were studied and a point near the distal dental alveolus was identified as being most useful in ranking each jaw according to molar progression. These 'Age Reference Lines' were then associated with an age scale based on previous studies and Zimbabwean mandibles of known age. The new ranking produced a single age scale that proved useful for both male and female mandibles up to the maximum lifespan age of 70-75 years. Methods to aid in molar identification and the sexing of found jaws were also identified.

  8. A Novel Objective Method of Estimating the Age of Mandibles from African Elephants (Loxodonta africana Africana).

    PubMed

    Stansfield, Fiona J

    2015-01-01

    The importance of assigning an accurate estimate of age and sex to elephant carcasses found in the wild has increased in recent years with the escalation in levels of poaching throughout Africa. Irregularities identified in current ageing techniques prompted the development of a new method to describe molar progression throughout life. Elephant mandibles (n = 323) were studied and a point near the distal dental alveolus was identified as being most useful in ranking each jaw according to molar progression. These 'Age Reference Lines' were then associated with an age scale based on previous studies and Zimbabwean mandibles of known age. The new ranking produced a single age scale that proved useful for both male and female mandibles up to the maximum lifespan age of 70-75 years. Methods to aid in molar identification and the sexing of found jaws were also identified. PMID:25970428

  9. The impact of land use on the net ecosystem CO2 exchanges in the West African Sudanian Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mauder, Matthias; Quansah, Emmanuel; Annor, Thompson; Balogun, Ahmed A.; Amekudzi, Leonard K.; Bliefernicht, Jan; Heinzeller, Dominikus; Kunstmann, Harald

    2016-04-01

    The land surface in West Africa has been considerably changed within the past decade due to various anthropogenic measures such as an increased agricultural activity. However, the impact of these land use changes on land-atmosphere exchange processes such as net ecosystems exchange is not well known for this highly vulnerable region. To tackle this problem, the effects of land use on the net ecosystem exchange of CO2 (NEE) along a transect of three contrasting ecosystems have been investigated on seasonal and annual time scales using the Eddy Covariance method. The ecosystems were grassland (GL), a mixture of fallow and cropland (CR) in the Upper East Region of Ghana, and a nature reserve (NR) near Pô in the Nahouri Province of Burkina Faso. The results for January to December 2013 showed that the ecosystems of the three sites served as net sinks of CO2 during the rainy season (May to October) and net sources of CO2 during the dry season (November to April). However, NR was a net sink of CO2 during the wet to dry transition period (November to December). On an annual timescale, only NR served as a net sink of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ecosystem, while the others were net sources of CO2 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the study revealed that the three contrasting ecosystems responded to environmental and physiological factors based on the ecosystem functional types. This suggests that land use and land use management may play a significant role in the diurnal to annual sequestration and efflux patterns of NEE and its composite fluxes, gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER), over the West African Sudanian Savannas.

  10. Topo-edaphic Controls over Woody Biomass in South African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colgan, M.; Asner, G. P.; Levick, S. R.

    2009-12-01

    The influence of substrate type on woody plant growth is well documented in the granite and basalt savannas of Kruger National Park, South Africa. Over the past two decades field studies and airborne photography have shown the gradually undulating granitic landscapes support higher woody cover than the basaltic plains. Yet nested within these broader trends are significant variations in biomass at the hillslope scale (0.5-1km), and it is debated to what extent the gradual slopes and subtle relief exert a catena influence on woody biomass. These trends have been qualitatively observed in the field, especially on the granite substrates, but drawing clear correlations between vegetation and terrain is hampered in the field by limited visibility due to relatively gradual (1-2°) and long (hundreds of meters) hillslopes. Here airborne LiDAR reveals clear, quantifiable biomass trends at the hillslope spatial scale and at the resolution (~1m) necessary to resolve the heterogeneity inherent in an open-canopy system. Our aim is to investigate the importance of hillslope topographic and soil properties in controlling woody biomass relative to regional differences in parent material. Aboveground woody biomass (AGWB) was estimated using airborne LiDAR over seven sites in Kruger National Park (KNP) in April-May 2008. Sites were selected to encompass the park’s range of substrate types, as well as variation in precipitation, topography, and dominant vegetation types. Throughout these seven sites 202 field plots were collected during the same period to inform and validate airborne biomass estimates. Basal diameter, height, and species of 4,500+ trees spanning 50+ woody species were recorded, and existing field allometry was applied to estimate dry AGWB. When regressed individually, canopy height and canopy cover each explained approximately the same variation in biomass (R2=0.60). Using canopy cover from three height classes significantly improved goodness of fit (R2=0.80) and

  11. Non-destructive analysis of the two subspecies of African elephants, mammoth, hippopotamus, and sperm whale ivories by visible and short-wave near infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics.

    PubMed

    Shimoyama, Masahiko; Morimoto, Susumu; Ozaki, Yukihiro

    2004-06-01

    Visible (VIS) and short-wave near infrared (SW-NIR) spectroscopy was used for non-destructive analysis of ivories. VIS-SW-NIR (500-1000 nm) spectra were measured in situ for five kinds of ivories, that is two subspecies of African elephants, mammoth, hippopotamus, and sperm whale. Chemometrics analyses were carried out for the spectral data from 500 to 1000 nm region. The five kinds of ivories were clearly discriminated from each other on the scores plot of two principal components (PCs) obtained by principal component analysis (PCA). It was noteworthy that the ivories of the two subspecies of African elephants were discriminated by the scores of PC 1. The loadings plot for PC 1 showed that the discrimination relies on the intensity changes in bands due to collagenous proteins and water interacting with proteins. It was found that the scores plot of PC 2 is useful to distinguish between the ivories of the two subspecies of African elephants and the other ivories. We also developed a calibration model that predicted the specific gravity of five kinds of ivories from their VIS-SW-NIR spectral data using partial least squares (PLS)-1 regression. The correlation coefficient and root mean square error of cross validation (RMSECV) of this model were 0.960 and 0.037, respectively.

  12. Non-destructive analysis of the two subspecies of African elephants, mammoth, hippopotamus, and sperm whale ivories by visible and short-wave near infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics.

    PubMed

    Shimoyama, Masahiko; Morimoto, Susumu; Ozaki, Yukihiro

    2004-06-01

    Visible (VIS) and short-wave near infrared (SW-NIR) spectroscopy was used for non-destructive analysis of ivories. VIS-SW-NIR (500-1000 nm) spectra were measured in situ for five kinds of ivories, that is two subspecies of African elephants, mammoth, hippopotamus, and sperm whale. Chemometrics analyses were carried out for the spectral data from 500 to 1000 nm region. The five kinds of ivories were clearly discriminated from each other on the scores plot of two principal components (PCs) obtained by principal component analysis (PCA). It was noteworthy that the ivories of the two subspecies of African elephants were discriminated by the scores of PC 1. The loadings plot for PC 1 showed that the discrimination relies on the intensity changes in bands due to collagenous proteins and water interacting with proteins. It was found that the scores plot of PC 2 is useful to distinguish between the ivories of the two subspecies of African elephants and the other ivories. We also developed a calibration model that predicted the specific gravity of five kinds of ivories from their VIS-SW-NIR spectral data using partial least squares (PLS)-1 regression. The correlation coefficient and root mean square error of cross validation (RMSECV) of this model were 0.960 and 0.037, respectively. PMID:15152335

  13. Enriching the captive elephant population genetic pool through artificial insemination with frozen-thawed semen collected in the wild.

    PubMed

    Hildebrandt, T B; Hermes, R; Saragusty, J; Potier, R; Schwammer, H M; Balfanz, F; Vielgrader, H; Baker, B; Bartels, P; Göritz, F

    2012-10-01

    The first successful AI in an elephant was reported in 1998, using fresh semen. Since then almost 40 calves have been produced through AI in both Asian and African elephants worldwide. Following these successes, with the objective of enriching the captive population with genetic material from the wild, we evaluated the possibility of using frozen-thawed semen collected from wild bulls for AI in captivity. Semen, collected from a 36-yr-old wild African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) in South Africa was frozen using the directional freezing technique. This frozen-thawed semen was used for four inseminations over two consecutive days, two before and two after ovulation, in a 26-yr-old female African savanna elephant in Austria. Insemination dose of 1200 × 10(6) cells per AI with 61% motility resulted in pregnancy, which was confirmed through ultrasound examination 75, 110 and 141 days after the AI procedure. This represents the first successful AI using wild bull frozen-thawed semen in elephants. The incorporation of AI with frozen-thawed semen into the assisted reproduction toolbox opens the way to preserve and transport semen between distant individuals in captivity or, as was done in this study, between wild and captive populations, without the need to transport stressed or potentially disease-carrying animals or to remove animals from the wild. In addition, cryopreserved spermatozoa, in combination with AI, are useful methods to extend the reproductive lifespan of individuals beyond their biological lifespan and an important tool for genetic diversity management and phenotype selection in these endangered mammals.

  14. Antral follicles develop in xenografted cryopreserved African elephant (Loxodonta africana) ovarian tissue.

    PubMed

    Gunasena, K T; Lakey, J R; Villines, P M; Bush, M; Raath, C; Critser, E S; McGann, L E; Critser, J K

    1998-10-01

    The preservation of germ plasm from endangered species could augment captive breeding programs aimed at maintaining genetic diversity. Mammalian female germ plasm (oocytes) is extremely difficult to collect and cryopreserve; however, a promising alternative is the cryopreservation of ovarian tissue. In the present study, athymic nude (nu/nu) Balb/C mice were used to evaluate in vivo viability of cryopreserved ovarian tissue from Institute of Cancer Research genotype (ICR) mice or elephants. Female mice were ovariectomized prior to transplant of cryopreserved-thawed ovarian tissue from ICR mice (n=4) or elephants (n=6). Control mice were sham operated (n=4) or ovariectomized (n=5). Transplants were in the ovarian bursa, enabling in vivo ovulation and pregnancies from allografts. Vaginal cytology was monitored daily, and the intervals between and duration of epithelial cells present in smears were evaluated. Appearance of epithelial cells in sham-operated and allografted mice were at intervals of 4.3+/-0.6 and 3.3+/-0.5 days, lasting for 1.4+/-0.1 and 1.6+/-0.2 days, respectively. Sporadic incidence of epithelial cells in ovariectomized animals occurred at longer intervals (8.6+/-3.8 days). Females with xenografted elephant ovarian tissue demonstrated epithelial cells in vaginal smears at intervals of 4.5+/-1.0 days, for 2.5+/-0.5 days duration, which was significantly longer than the other groups (P < 0.05). Histological evaluation of tissues at the time of epithelial cells in smears demonstrated well-developed antral follicles, although oocytes were of poor morphological appearance or only cumulus-like complexes were seen. The nude mouse model is effective for assessing cryopreserved ovarian tissue xenograft function which can support the development of antral follicles.

  15. Mammoths, Mastodons, and Elephants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haynes, Gary

    1993-05-01

    The diminishing population of African and Asian elephants can be compared to the extinction of other elephant-like species, such as mammoths and mastodonts, which occurred more than ten thousand years ago. The purpose of this book is to use the ecology and behavior of modern elephants to create models for reconstructing the life and death of extinct mammoths and mastodonts. The source of the models is a long-term and continuing study of elephants in Zimbabwe, Africa. These models are clearly described with respect to the anatomical, behavioral, and ecological similarities between past and present proboscideans. The implications of these similarities on the life and death of mammoths and mastodonts is explored in detail. The importance of this book is primarily its unifying perspective on living and extinct proboscideans: the fossil record is closely examined and compared to the natural history of surviving elephants. Dr. Haynes's studies of the places where African elephants die (so-called elephant burial grounds) are unique.

  16. Eavesdropping on elephants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Payne, Katy

    2001-05-01

    The Elephant Listening Project is creating an acoustic monitoring program for African forest elephants, an endangered species that lives in dense forests where visual censusing is impossible. In 2002, a 21/2-month continuous recording was made on an array of autonomous recording units (ARUs) surrounding a forest clearing in the Central African Republic. Each day between 10 and 160 forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), the subjects of Andrea Turkalo's 13-year demographic study, were present on the clearing. Thousands of vocalizations were recorded, most of which contained infrasonic energy. The calls were located in space using software developed in the Bioacoustics Research Program. During daylight hours simultaneous video recordings were made. GPS time-synchronization of video cameras and the ARUs made it possible to identify the elephants responsible for many calls and to examine associated circumstances and behaviors. Recordings were also made on a second acoustic array, permitting a preliminary estimate of propagation and an indication of source level for selected elephant calls. Automatic detection of elephant calls is increasing the feasibility of analyzing long acoustic recordings, and paving the way for finer-tuned analyses, with an ultimate goal of describing forest elephants' acoustic repertoire.

  17. Histogenesis of the chequered pattern of ivory of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Raubenheimer, E J; Bosman, M C; Vorster, R; Noffke, C E

    1998-12-01

    This study aimed to propose a hypothesis on the events which lead to the development of the characteristic chequered pattern of elephant ivory. Twenty fragments of ivory and six elephant tusks were obtained through the National Parks Board of South Africa. Polished surfaces were prepared in sagittal and longitudinal planes and the characteristics of the distinctive chequered pattern described. Light- and electron-microscopical techniques and image analyses were employed to determine the morphological basis of the pattern and to describe the spatial distribution, density and morphology of the dentinal tubules. These investigations showed that the distinctive pattern was the result of the sinusoidal, centripetal course followed by dentinal tubules. The apical, slanted part of the sinusoidal curve is the result of the centripetally moving odontoblast, which, during formation of ivory, progresses towards the centre of the tusk on a decreasing circumference. It is suggested that this leads to cell crowding, increased pressure between odontoblasts and subsequent apical movement of their cell bodies, cell degeneration and fusion. Odontoblastic degeneration and fusion probably relieve the pressure between the crowded odontoblasts by reducing their numbers and the remaining odontoblasts now orientate their centripetal course towards the tip of the tusk, thereby forming the anterior-directed part of the sinusoidal path of the tubule. As odontoblasts progress centripetally the diameter of the pulpal cavity decreases further and the processes of apical movement, fusion and degeneration of odontoblasts are repeated. This occurs until the pulpal cavity is obliterated.

  18. Wild female African elephants (Loxodonta africana) exhibit personality traits of leadership and social integration.

    PubMed

    Lee, Phyllis C; Moss, Cynthia J

    2012-08-01

    Animal personalities have been demonstrated for almost 200 species, with stable dimensions of responses (aggressive to fearful; shy to bold) across contexts and with a heritable basis to these traits. As a long-lived and highly social species, elephants (Loxodonta africana) were expected to demonstrate complex dimensions to individual characteristics or personalities, which would be obvious to human observers and validated by behavioral observations. We used principal-components analysis of ratings on 26 behavioral adjectives applied to one social unit, coded as the EB family, which has been observed for 38 years. Eleven adult females were rated by four observers and found to have individually variable traits on four dimensions described by principal-components analysis. The first component was associated with effective and confident family leadership. Component 2 was age-related, and defined by playfulness, exploration and high levels of activity, suggesting both an experience and an age-related element to its structure. Component 3 represented gentleness and at its other extreme, aggression, and Component 4 was related to constancy (predictability and popularity), with both of these latter components reflecting social integration. Leadership among elephant females represents the successful negotiation among individual interests, and our components were related to a capacity to affect the behavior of others in the absence of aggressive dominance. The family matriarch, Echo, was high on elements associated with leadership. The importance of the matriarch in this family's success suggests that elements of personality may underlie interfamilial variation in long-term survival and reproduction.

  19. Effects of moisture and burning on soil-atmosphere exchange of trace carbon gases in a southern African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zepp, Richard G.; Miller, William L.; Burke, Roger A.; Parsons, Dirk A. B.; Scholes, Mary C.

    1996-10-01

    Soil fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and carbon monoxide (CO) were measured during a period of extreme drought at semi-arid savanna sites located in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, as part of the SAFARI-92 experiments (Sept., 1992). Soil respiration in this savanna was little affected by burning, but was strongly stimulated by addition of moisture. Mean soil respiration from the dry soil was 0.4 g C m-2 d-1 in open savanna plots that had been burned biennially and 0.5 g C m-2 d-1 in woody savanna plots. A light natural rain (about 0.6 mm) increased the CO2 flux in the open savanna sites by 5-fold but the effect was short-lived. A simulated heavy rain (25 mm of added distilled water) increased CO2 fluxes by over an order of magnitude in both burned and control sites and the emissions remained over 5 times pre-wetting values during a week of drying. Over 65% of our measurements indicated no significant soil-atmosphere methane exchange; most of the few non-zero measurements indicated a small (<1 mg CH4-C m-2 d-1) flux of methane to the atmosphere. Soil-atmosphere CH4 exchange was not significantly affected by either burning the grass layer or by the addition of distilled water to the soil. The net soil CO fluxes, which generally increased with increasing soil temperature, were positive up to 356 × 109 molecules cm-2 s-1 with an average of 8.8 × 1010 molecules cm-2 s-1 for the untreated open savanna plots. After burning, the fluxes rose by over an order of magnitude but dropped back to preburn levels within a few days. Observed CO fluxes were higher than those previously reported for southern Africa savannas during non-drought conditions. Added moisture had little effect on CO fluxes during the 3-week period of SAFARI-92.

  20. Integrating in-situ, Landsat, and MODIS data for mapping in Southern African savannas: experiences of LCCS-based land-cover mapping in the Kalahari in Namibia.

    PubMed

    Hüttich, Christian; Herold, Martin; Strohbach, Ben J; Dech, Stefan

    2011-05-01

    Integrated ecosystem assessment initiatives are important steps towards a global biodiversity observing system. Reliable earth observation data are key information for tracking biodiversity change on various scales. Regarding the establishment of standardized environmental observation systems, a key question is: What can be observed on each scale and how can land cover information be transferred? In this study, a land cover map from a dry semi-arid savanna ecosystem in Namibia was obtained based on the UN LCCS, in-situ data, and MODIS and Landsat satellite imagery. In situ botanical relevé samples were used as baseline data for the definition of a standardized LCCS legend. A standard LCCS code for savanna vegetation types is introduced. An object-oriented segmentation of Landsat imagery was used as intermediate stage for downscaling in-situ training data on a coarse MODIS resolution. MODIS time series metrics of the growing season 2004/2005 were used to classify Kalahari vegetation types using a tree-based ensemble classifier (Random Forest). The prevailing Kalahari vegetation types based on LCCS was open broadleaved deciduous shrubland with an herbaceous layer which differs from the class assignments of the global and regional land-cover maps. The separability analysis based on Bhattacharya distance measurements applied on two LCCS levels indicated a relationship of spectral mapping dependencies of annual MODIS time series features due to the thematic detail of the classification scheme. The analysis of LCCS classifiers showed an increased significance of life-form composition and soil conditions to the mapping accuracy. An overall accuracy of 92.48% was achieved. Woody plant associations proved to be most stable due to small omission and commission errors. The case study comprised a first suitability assessment of the LCCS classifier approach for a southern African savanna ecosystem.

  1. Inter- and intrahabitat dietary variability of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in South African savannas based on fecal delta13C, delta15N, and %N.

    PubMed

    Codron, Daryl; Lee-Thorp, Julia A; Sponheimer, Matt; de Ruiter, Darryl; Codron, Jacqueline

    2006-02-01

    Baboons are dietary generalists, consuming a wide range of food items in varying proportions. It is thus difficult to quantify and explain the dietary behavior of these primates. We present stable carbon (delta(13)C) and nitrogen (delta(15)N) isotopic data, and percentage nitrogen (%N), of feces from chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) living in two savanna environments of South Africa: the mountainous Waterberg region and the low-lying Kruger National Park. Baboons living in the more homogeneous landscapes of the Waterberg consume a more isotopically heterogeneous diet than their counterparts living in Kruger Park. Grasses and other C(4)-based foods comprise between approximately 10-20% (on average) of the bulk diet of Kruger Park baboons. Carbon isotopic data from the Waterberg suggest diets of approximately 30-50% grass, which is higher than generally reported for baboons across the African savanna. Based on observations of succulent-feeding, we propose that baboons in the Waterberg consume a mix of C(4) grasses and CAM-photosynthesizing succulents in combined proportions varying between approximately 5-75% (average, approximately 35%). Fecal delta(15)N of baboons is lower than that of sympatric ungulates, which may be due to a combination of low levels of faunivory, foraging on subterranean plant parts, or the use of human foods in the case of Kruger Park populations. Fecal N levels in baboons are consistently higher than those of sympatric ungulate herbivores, indicating that baboons consume a greater proportion of protein-rich foods than do other savanna mammals. These data suggest that chacma baboons adapt their dietary behavior so as to maximize protein intake, regardless of their environment.

  2. Zoo visitor perceptions, attitudes, and conservation intent after viewing African elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

    PubMed

    Hacker, Charlotte E; Miller, Lance J

    2016-07-01

    Elephants in the wild face several conservation issues. With the rebranding of zoos as conservation and education pioneers, they have the ability to both educate and inspire guests to action. The purpose of this research was to analyze visitor perceptions and attitudes toward elephant conservation and outcomes post-exhibit visit. A one-page survey was randomly administered to assess perceptions of elephant behavior, attitudes about elephant conservation, and intended conservation-related outcomes from September 2013 to January 2014. Principle component analysis identified three major components: concern for elephants in zoos, importance of elephants in the wild, and modification of nature. Visitors who scored highly on conservation intent were those with positive attitudes towards elephants in the wild and negative attitudes regarding the modification of nature. The greatest changes in conservation intent were a result of a self-reported up-close encounter and the ability to witness active behaviors. Providing guests with the opportunity to witness or experience such occurrences may aid in a more successful delivery of the zoo's conservation message. Further research into guest emotions and affective states in relation to viewing elephants in a zoological institution would provide greater insight into improving the guest experience and helping zoos meet their conservation mission. Zoo Biol. 35:355-361, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID:27291643

  3. Zoo visitor perceptions, attitudes, and conservation intent after viewing African elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

    PubMed

    Hacker, Charlotte E; Miller, Lance J

    2016-07-01

    Elephants in the wild face several conservation issues. With the rebranding of zoos as conservation and education pioneers, they have the ability to both educate and inspire guests to action. The purpose of this research was to analyze visitor perceptions and attitudes toward elephant conservation and outcomes post-exhibit visit. A one-page survey was randomly administered to assess perceptions of elephant behavior, attitudes about elephant conservation, and intended conservation-related outcomes from September 2013 to January 2014. Principle component analysis identified three major components: concern for elephants in zoos, importance of elephants in the wild, and modification of nature. Visitors who scored highly on conservation intent were those with positive attitudes towards elephants in the wild and negative attitudes regarding the modification of nature. The greatest changes in conservation intent were a result of a self-reported up-close encounter and the ability to witness active behaviors. Providing guests with the opportunity to witness or experience such occurrences may aid in a more successful delivery of the zoo's conservation message. Further research into guest emotions and affective states in relation to viewing elephants in a zoological institution would provide greater insight into improving the guest experience and helping zoos meet their conservation mission. Zoo Biol. 35:355-361, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

  4. Combating the illegal trade in African elephant ivory with DNA forensics.

    PubMed

    Wasser, Samuel K; Joseph Clark, William; Drori, Ofir; Stephen Kisamo, Emily; Mailand, Celia; Mutayoba, Benezeth; Stephens, Matthew

    2008-08-01

    International wildlife crime is burgeoning in this climate of global trade. We contend that the most effective way to contain this illegal trade is to determine where the wildlife is being removed. This allows authorities to direct law enforcement to poaching hot spots, potentially stops trade before the wildlife is actually killed, prevents countries from denying their poaching problems at home, and thwarts trade before it enters into an increasingly complex web of international criminal activity. Forensic tools have been limited in their ability to determine product origin because the information they can provide typically begins only at the point of shipment. DNA assignment analyses can determine product origin, but its use has been limited by the inability to assign samples to locations where reference samples do not exist. We applied new DNA assignment methods that can determine the geographic origin(s) of wildlife products from anywhere within its range. We used these methods to examine the geographic origin(s) of 2 strings of seizures involving large volumes of elephant ivory, 1 string seized in Singapore and Malawi and the other in Hong Kong and Cameroon. These ivory traffickers may comprise 2 of the largest poaching rings in Africa. In both cases all ivory seized in the string had common origins, which indicates that crime syndicates are targeting specific populations for intense exploitation. This result contradicts the dominant belief that dealers are using a decentralized plan of procuring ivory stocks as they became available across Africa. Large quantities of ivory were then moved, in multiple shipments, through an intermediate country prior to shipment to Asia, as a risk-reduction strategy that distances the dealer from the poaching locale. These smuggling strategies could not have been detected by forensic information, which typically begins only at the shipping source. PMID:18786100

  5. Combating the illegal trade in African elephant ivory with DNA forensics.

    PubMed

    Wasser, Samuel K; Joseph Clark, William; Drori, Ofir; Stephen Kisamo, Emily; Mailand, Celia; Mutayoba, Benezeth; Stephens, Matthew

    2008-08-01

    International wildlife crime is burgeoning in this climate of global trade. We contend that the most effective way to contain this illegal trade is to determine where the wildlife is being removed. This allows authorities to direct law enforcement to poaching hot spots, potentially stops trade before the wildlife is actually killed, prevents countries from denying their poaching problems at home, and thwarts trade before it enters into an increasingly complex web of international criminal activity. Forensic tools have been limited in their ability to determine product origin because the information they can provide typically begins only at the point of shipment. DNA assignment analyses can determine product origin, but its use has been limited by the inability to assign samples to locations where reference samples do not exist. We applied new DNA assignment methods that can determine the geographic origin(s) of wildlife products from anywhere within its range. We used these methods to examine the geographic origin(s) of 2 strings of seizures involving large volumes of elephant ivory, 1 string seized in Singapore and Malawi and the other in Hong Kong and Cameroon. These ivory traffickers may comprise 2 of the largest poaching rings in Africa. In both cases all ivory seized in the string had common origins, which indicates that crime syndicates are targeting specific populations for intense exploitation. This result contradicts the dominant belief that dealers are using a decentralized plan of procuring ivory stocks as they became available across Africa. Large quantities of ivory were then moved, in multiple shipments, through an intermediate country prior to shipment to Asia, as a risk-reduction strategy that distances the dealer from the poaching locale. These smuggling strategies could not have been detected by forensic information, which typically begins only at the shipping source.

  6. Seasonal Controls on Water and Carbon Fluxes Responding to Pulse Precipitation Events in Dryland Systems: Examples from Southern African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williams, C. A.; Hanan, N. P.; Scholes, R. J.

    2005-12-01

    Water and carbon fluxes from savanna landscapes are tightly coupled to soil water availability through physiological limitation from plant water stress. This general principle has been used to broadly characterize savanna vegetation distributions based almost solely on rainfall or soil moisture. However, a number of other physical and biotic drivers vary seasonally and interannually, including radiation, humidity, leaf area, and plant functional type. It remains unclear to what degree these other drivers limit our ability to accurately predict vegetation distributions in water-limited systems. In this study, we analyze five years of eddy flux data collected at Kruger National Park, South Africa, to investigate the degree to which these other drivers modulate soil moisture control of water and carbon fluxes. Our analysis focuses on what controls seasonal variation in the response of canopy-scale fluxes to pulse precipitation events and subsequent drydown. From more than thirty drydown response curves, we find pronounced seasonal variation in the time rate of decay of soil moisture and evapotranspiration, which are both well represented as either a logarithm or power of time since a rainfall pulse. Radiation and humidity explain most of the residuals in the response of evapotranspiration to soil moisture, with only weak explanatory power of leaf area. We also find little difference in the drydown responses of Combretum versus Acacia dominated savannas. Marked seasonal shifts in canopy-scale water use efficiency (carbon / water fluxes) documents transitions from early wet season greening, to dry season moisture stress, to dormancy and decay prior to first rains. These results suggest that generalized relations between soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and carbon exchange are robust when adjusted to incorporate seasonal dependence on radiation and humidty. Broader implications for modeling savanna vegetation distributions will be discussed.

  7. Low coverage sequencing of two Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) genomes

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background There are three species of elephant that exist, the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and two species of African elephant (Loxodonta africana and Loxodonta cyclotis). The populations of all three species are dwindling, and are under threat due to factors, such as habitat destruction and ivory hunting. The species differ in many respects, including in their morphology and response to disease. The availability of elephant genome sequence data from all three elephant species will complement studies of behaviour, genetic diversity, evolution and disease resistance. Findings We present low-coverage Illumina sequence data from two Asian elephants, representing approximately 5X and 2.5X coverage respectively. Both raw and aligned data are available, using the African elephant (L. africana) genome as a reference. Conclusions The data presented here are an important addition to the available genetic and genomic information on Asian and African elephants. PMID:25053995

  8. Plant community response to loss of large herbivores differs between North American and South African savanna grasslands.

    PubMed

    Koerner, Sally E; Burkepile, Deron E; Fynn, Richard W S; Burns, Catherine E; Eby, Stephanie; Govender, Navashni; Hagenah, Nicole; Matchett, Katherine J; Thompson, Dave I; Wilcox, Kevin R; Collins, Scott L; Kirkman, Kevin P; Knapp, Alan K; Smith, Melinda D

    2014-04-01

    Herbivory and fire shape plant community structure in grass-dominated ecosystems, but these disturbance regimes are being altered around the world. To assess the consequences of such alterations, we excluded large herbivores for seven years from mesic savanna grasslands sites burned at different frequencies in North America (Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas, USA) and South Africa (Kruger National Park). We hypothesized that the removal of a single grass-feeding herbivore from Konza would decrease plant community richness and shift community composition due to increased dominance by grasses. Similarly, we expected grass dominance to increase at Kruger when removing large herbivores, but because large herbivores are more diverse, targeting both grasses and forbs, at this study site, the changes due to herbivore removal would be muted. After seven years of large-herbivore exclusion, richness strongly decreased and community composition changed at Konza, whereas little change was evident at Kruger. We found that this divergence in response was largely due to differences in the traits and numbers of dominant grasses between the study sites rather than the predicted differences in herbivore assemblages. Thus, the diversity of large herbivores lost may be less important in determining plant community dynamics than the functional traits of the grasses that dominate mesic, disturbance-maintained savanna grasslands.

  9. Modeling elephant-mediated cascading effects of water point closure.

    PubMed

    Hilbers, Jelle P; Van Langevelde, Frank; Prins, Herbert H T; Grant, C C; Peel, Mike J S; Coughenour, Michael B; De Knegt, Henrik J; Slotow, Rob; Smit, Izak P J; Kiker, Greg A; De Boer, Willem F

    2015-03-01

    Wildlife management to reduce the impact of wildlife on their habitat can be done in several ways, among which removing animals (by either culling or translocation) is most often used. There are, however, alternative ways to control wildlife densities, such as opening or closing water points. The effects of these alternatives are poorly studied. In this paper, we focus on manipulating large herbivores through the closure of water points (WPs). Removal of artificial WPs has been suggested in order to change the distribution of African elephants, which occur in high densities in national parks in Southern Africa and are thought to have a destructive effect on the vegetation. Here, we modeled the long-term effects of different scenarios of WP closure on the spatial distribution of elephants, and consequential effects on the vegetation and other herbivores in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Using a dynamic ecosystem model, SAVANNA, scenarios were evaluated that varied in availability of artificial WPs; levels of natural water; and elephant densities. Our modeling results showed that elephants can indirectly negatively affect the distributions of meso-mixed feeders, meso-browsers, and some meso-grazers under wet conditions. The closure of artificial WPs hardly had any effect during these natural wet conditions. Under dry conditions, the spatial distribution of both elephant bulls and cows changed when the availability of artificial water was severely reduced in the model. These changes in spatial distribution triggered changes in the spatial availability of woody biomass over the simulation period of 80 years, and this led to changes in the rest of the herbivore community, resulting in increased densities of all herbivores, except for giraffe and steenbok, in areas close to rivers. The spatial distributions of elephant bulls and cows showed to be less affected by the closure of WPs than most of the other herbivore species. Our study contributes to ecologically

  10. Modeling elephant-mediated cascading effects of water point closure.

    PubMed

    Hilbers, Jelle P; Van Langevelde, Frank; Prins, Herbert H T; Grant, C C; Peel, Mike J S; Coughenour, Michael B; De Knegt, Henrik J; Slotow, Rob; Smit, Izak P J; Kiker, Greg A; De Boer, Willem F

    2015-03-01

    Wildlife management to reduce the impact of wildlife on their habitat can be done in several ways, among which removing animals (by either culling or translocation) is most often used. There are, however, alternative ways to control wildlife densities, such as opening or closing water points. The effects of these alternatives are poorly studied. In this paper, we focus on manipulating large herbivores through the closure of water points (WPs). Removal of artificial WPs has been suggested in order to change the distribution of African elephants, which occur in high densities in national parks in Southern Africa and are thought to have a destructive effect on the vegetation. Here, we modeled the long-term effects of different scenarios of WP closure on the spatial distribution of elephants, and consequential effects on the vegetation and other herbivores in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Using a dynamic ecosystem model, SAVANNA, scenarios were evaluated that varied in availability of artificial WPs; levels of natural water; and elephant densities. Our modeling results showed that elephants can indirectly negatively affect the distributions of meso-mixed feeders, meso-browsers, and some meso-grazers under wet conditions. The closure of artificial WPs hardly had any effect during these natural wet conditions. Under dry conditions, the spatial distribution of both elephant bulls and cows changed when the availability of artificial water was severely reduced in the model. These changes in spatial distribution triggered changes in the spatial availability of woody biomass over the simulation period of 80 years, and this led to changes in the rest of the herbivore community, resulting in increased densities of all herbivores, except for giraffe and steenbok, in areas close to rivers. The spatial distributions of elephant bulls and cows showed to be less affected by the closure of WPs than most of the other herbivore species. Our study contributes to ecologically

  11. Population genetic structure of the African elephant in Uganda based on variation at mitochondrial and nuclear loci: evidence for male-biased gene flow.

    PubMed

    Nyakaana, S; Arctander, P

    1999-07-01

    A drastic decline has occurred in the size of the Uganda elephant population in the last 40 years, exacerbated by two main factors; an increase in the size of the human population and poaching for ivory. One of the attendant consequences of such a decline is a reduction in the amount of genetic diversity in the surviving populations due to increased effects of random genetic drift. Information about the amount of genetic variation within and between the remaining populations is vital for their future conservation and management. The genetic structure of the African elephant in Uganda was examined using nucleotide variation of mitochondrial control region sequences and four nuclear microsatellite loci in 72 individuals from three localities. Eleven mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes were observed, nine of which were geographically localized. We found significant genetic differentiation between the three populations at the mitochondrial locus while three out of the four microsatellite loci differentiated KV and QE, one locus differentiated KV and MF and no loci differentiated MF and QE. Expected heterozygosity at the four loci varied between 0.51 and 0.84 while nucleotide diversity at the mitochondrial locus was 1.4%. Incongruent patterns of genetic variation within and between populations were revealed by the two genetic systems, and we have explained these in terms of the differences in the effective population sizes of the two genomes and male-biased gene flow between populations.

  12. Population genetic structure of the African elephant in Uganda based on variation at mitochondrial and nuclear loci: evidence for male-biased gene flow.

    PubMed

    Nyakaana, S; Arctander, P

    1999-07-01

    A drastic decline has occurred in the size of the Uganda elephant population in the last 40 years, exacerbated by two main factors; an increase in the size of the human population and poaching for ivory. One of the attendant consequences of such a decline is a reduction in the amount of genetic diversity in the surviving populations due to increased effects of random genetic drift. Information about the amount of genetic variation within and between the remaining populations is vital for their future conservation and management. The genetic structure of the African elephant in Uganda was examined using nucleotide variation of mitochondrial control region sequences and four nuclear microsatellite loci in 72 individuals from three localities. Eleven mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes were observed, nine of which were geographically localized. We found significant genetic differentiation between the three populations at the mitochondrial locus while three out of the four microsatellite loci differentiated KV and QE, one locus differentiated KV and MF and no loci differentiated MF and QE. Expected heterozygosity at the four loci varied between 0.51 and 0.84 while nucleotide diversity at the mitochondrial locus was 1.4%. Incongruent patterns of genetic variation within and between populations were revealed by the two genetic systems, and we have explained these in terms of the differences in the effective population sizes of the two genomes and male-biased gene flow between populations. PMID:10447852

  13. Elephants and Their Young: Science and Math Activities for Young Children. Teacher's Guide.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Echols, Jean C.; Kopp, Jaine; Blinderman, Ellen

    This book contains a series of playful activities in which young children actively learn about the African elephant's body structure, family life, and social behavior. Children make model elephants out of paper and cardboard, then devise elephant puppets with sock trunks as well as create models of elephant's ears, trunks, tusks, make elephant…

  14. Competition between a Lawn-Forming Cynodon dactylon and a Tufted Grass Species Hyparrhenia hirta on a South-African Dystrophic Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Zwerts, J. A.; Prins, H. H. T.; Bomhoff, D.; Verhagen, I.; Swart, J. M.; de Boer, W. F.

    2015-01-01

    South African savanna grasslands are often characterised by indigestible tufted grass species whereas lawn grasses are far more desirable in terms of herbivore sustenance. We aimed to investigate the role of nutrients and/or the disturbance (grazing, trampling) by herbivores on the formation of grazing lawns. We conducted a series of common garden experiments to test the effect of nutrients on interspecific competition between a typical lawn-forming grass species (Cynodon dactylon) and a species that is frequently found outside grazing lawns (Hyparrhenia hirta), and tested for the effect of herbivore disturbance in the form of trampling and clipping. We also performed a vegetation and herbivore survey to apply experimentally derived insights to field observations. Our results showed that interspecific competition was not affected by soil nutrient concentrations. C. dactylon did show much more resilience to disturbance than H. hirta, presumably due to the regenerative capacity of its rhizomes. Results from the field survey were in line with these findings, describing a correlation between herbivore pressure and C. dactylon abundance. We conclude that herbivore disturbance, and not soil nutrients, provide C. dactylon with a competitive advantage over H. hirta, due to vegetative regeneration from its rhizomes. This provides evidence for the importance of concentrated, high herbivore densities for the creation and maintenance of grazing lawns. PMID:26510157

  15. Competition between a Lawn-Forming Cynodon dactylon and a Tufted Grass Species Hyparrhenia hirta on a South-African Dystrophic Savanna.

    PubMed

    Zwerts, J A; Prins, H H T; Bomhoff, D; Verhagen, I; Swart, J M; de Boer, W F

    2015-01-01

    South African savanna grasslands are often characterised by indigestible tufted grass species whereas lawn grasses are far more desirable in terms of herbivore sustenance. We aimed to investigate the role of nutrients and/or the disturbance (grazing, trampling) by herbivores on the formation of grazing lawns. We conducted a series of common garden experiments to test the effect of nutrients on interspecific competition between a typical lawn-forming grass species (Cynodon dactylon) and a species that is frequently found outside grazing lawns (Hyparrhenia hirta), and tested for the effect of herbivore disturbance in the form of trampling and clipping. We also performed a vegetation and herbivore survey to apply experimentally derived insights to field observations. Our results showed that interspecific competition was not affected by soil nutrient concentrations. C. dactylon did show much more resilience to disturbance than H. hirta, presumably due to the regenerative capacity of its rhizomes. Results from the field survey were in line with these findings, describing a correlation between herbivore pressure and C. dactylon abundance. We conclude that herbivore disturbance, and not soil nutrients, provide C. dactylon with a competitive advantage over H. hirta, due to vegetative regeneration from its rhizomes. This provides evidence for the importance of concentrated, high herbivore densities for the creation and maintenance of grazing lawns. PMID:26510157

  16. Seasonal Variation and Ecosystem Dependence of Emission Factors for Selected Trace Gases and PM2.5 for Southern African Savanna Fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Korontzi, S.; Ward, D. E.; Susott, R. A.; Yokelson, R. J.; Justice, C. O.; Hobbs, P. V.; Smithwick, E. A. H.; Hao, W. M.

    2003-01-01

    In this paper we present the first early dry season (early June-early August) emission factor measurements for carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (Ca), nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC), and particulates with a diameter less than 2.5 microns (pM2.5) for southern African grassland and woodland fires. Seasonal emission factors for grassland fires correlate linearly with the proportion of green grass, used as a surrogate for the fuel moisture content, and are higher for products of incomplete combustion in the early part of the dry season compared with later in the dry season. Models of emission factors for NMHC and PM(sub 2.5) versus modified combustion efficiency (MCE) are statistically different in grassland compared with woodland ecosystems. We compare predictions based on the integration of emissions factors from this study, from the southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative 1992 (SAFARI-92), and from SAFARI-2000 with those based on the smaller set of ecosystem-specific emission factors to estimate the effects of using regional-average rather than ecosystem-specific emission factors. We also test the validity of using the SAFARI-92 models for emission factors versus MCE to predict the early dry season emission factors measured in this study. The comparison indicates that the largest discrepancies occur at the low end (0.907) and high end (0.972) of MCE values measured in this study. Finally, we combine our models of MCE versus proportion of green grass for grassland fires with emission factors versus MCE for selected oxygenated volatile organic compounds measured in the SAFARI-2000 campaign to derive the first seasonal emission factors for these compounds. The results of this study demonstrate that seasonal variations in savanna fire emissions are important and should be considered in modeling emissions at regional to continental scales.

  17. Researching the Link Between Biomass Burning and Drought Across the Northern Sub-Saharan African Savanna/Sahel Belt

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ichoku, Charles; Ellison, Luke

    2012-01-01

    The northern sub-Saharan African (NSSA) region, bounded by the Sahara, Equator, and the West and East African coastlines, is subjected to intense biomass burning every year during the dry season. This is believed to be one of the drivers of the regional carbon and energy cycles, with serious implications for the water cycle anomalies that probably contribute to drought and desertification. In this presentation, we will discuss a new multi-disciplinary research in the NSSA region, review progress, evaluate preliminary results, and interact with the research and user communities to examine how best to coordinate with other research activities in order to address related environmental issues most effectively.

  18. How Rainfall Variation Influences Reproductive Patterns of African Savanna Ungulates in an Equatorial Region Where Photoperiod Variation Is Absent.

    PubMed

    Ogutu, Joseph O; Owen-Smith, Norman; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Dublin, Holly T

    2015-01-01

    In high temperate latitudes, ungulates generally give birth within a narrow time window when conditions are optimal for offspring survival in spring or early summer, and use changing photoperiod to time conceptions so as to anticipate these conditions. However, in low tropical latitudes day length variation is minimal, and rainfall variation makes the seasonal cycle less predictable. Nevertheless, several ungulate species retain narrow birth peaks under such conditions, while others show births spread quite widely through the year. We investigated how within-year and between-year variation in rainfall influenced the reproductive timing of four ungulate species showing these contrasting patterns in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. All four species exhibited birth peaks during the putative optimal period in the early wet season. For hartebeest and impala, the birth peak was diffuse and offspring were born throughout the year. In contrast, topi and warthog showed a narrow seasonal concentration of births, with conceptions suppressed once monthly rainfall fell below a threshold level. High rainfall in the previous season and high early rains in the current year enhanced survival into the juvenile stage for all the species except impala. Our findings reveal how rainfall variation affecting grass growth and hence herbivore nutrition can govern the reproductive phenology of ungulates in tropical latitudes where day length variation is minimal. The underlying mechanism seems to be the suppression of conceptions once nutritional gains become insufficient. Through responding proximally to within-year variation in rainfall, tropical savanna ungulates are less likely to be affected adversely by the consequences of global warming for vegetation phenology than northern ungulates showing more rigid photoperiodic control over reproductive timing. PMID:26295154

  19. How Rainfall Variation Influences Reproductive Patterns of African Savanna Ungulates in an Equatorial Region Where Photoperiod Variation Is Absent

    PubMed Central

    Ogutu, Joseph O.; Owen-Smith, Norman; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Dublin, Holly T.

    2015-01-01

    In high temperate latitudes, ungulates generally give birth within a narrow time window when conditions are optimal for offspring survival in spring or early summer, and use changing photoperiod to time conceptions so as to anticipate these conditions. However, in low tropical latitudes day length variation is minimal, and rainfall variation makes the seasonal cycle less predictable. Nevertheless, several ungulate species retain narrow birth peaks under such conditions, while others show births spread quite widely through the year. We investigated how within-year and between-year variation in rainfall influenced the reproductive timing of four ungulate species showing these contrasting patterns in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. All four species exhibited birth peaks during the putative optimal period in the early wet season. For hartebeest and impala, the birth peak was diffuse and offspring were born throughout the year. In contrast, topi and warthog showed a narrow seasonal concentration of births, with conceptions suppressed once monthly rainfall fell below a threshold level. High rainfall in the previous season and high early rains in the current year enhanced survival into the juvenile stage for all the species except impala. Our findings reveal how rainfall variation affecting grass growth and hence herbivore nutrition can govern the reproductive phenology of ungulates in tropical latitudes where day length variation is minimal. The underlying mechanism seems to be the suppression of conceptions once nutritional gains become insufficient. Through responding proximally to within-year variation in rainfall, tropical savanna ungulates are less likely to be affected adversely by the consequences of global warming for vegetation phenology than northern ungulates showing more rigid photoperiodic control over reproductive timing. PMID:26295154

  20. How Rainfall Variation Influences Reproductive Patterns of African Savanna Ungulates in an Equatorial Region Where Photoperiod Variation Is Absent.

    PubMed

    Ogutu, Joseph O; Owen-Smith, Norman; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Dublin, Holly T

    2015-01-01

    In high temperate latitudes, ungulates generally give birth within a narrow time window when conditions are optimal for offspring survival in spring or early summer, and use changing photoperiod to time conceptions so as to anticipate these conditions. However, in low tropical latitudes day length variation is minimal, and rainfall variation makes the seasonal cycle less predictable. Nevertheless, several ungulate species retain narrow birth peaks under such conditions, while others show births spread quite widely through the year. We investigated how within-year and between-year variation in rainfall influenced the reproductive timing of four ungulate species showing these contrasting patterns in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. All four species exhibited birth peaks during the putative optimal period in the early wet season. For hartebeest and impala, the birth peak was diffuse and offspring were born throughout the year. In contrast, topi and warthog showed a narrow seasonal concentration of births, with conceptions suppressed once monthly rainfall fell below a threshold level. High rainfall in the previous season and high early rains in the current year enhanced survival into the juvenile stage for all the species except impala. Our findings reveal how rainfall variation affecting grass growth and hence herbivore nutrition can govern the reproductive phenology of ungulates in tropical latitudes where day length variation is minimal. The underlying mechanism seems to be the suppression of conceptions once nutritional gains become insufficient. Through responding proximally to within-year variation in rainfall, tropical savanna ungulates are less likely to be affected adversely by the consequences of global warming for vegetation phenology than northern ungulates showing more rigid photoperiodic control over reproductive timing.

  1. The elephant brain in numbers

    PubMed Central

    Herculano-Houzel, Suzana; Avelino-de-Souza, Kamilla; Neves, Kleber; Porfírio, Jairo; Messeder, Débora; Mattos Feijó, Larissa; Maldonado, José; Manger, Paul R.

    2014-01-01

    What explains the superior cognitive abilities of the human brain compared to other, larger brains? Here we investigate the possibility that the human brain has a larger number of neurons than even larger brains by determining the cellular composition of the brain of the African elephant. We find that the African elephant brain, which is about three times larger than the human brain, contains 257 billion (109) neurons, three times more than the average human brain; however, 97.5% of the neurons in the elephant brain (251 billion) are found in the cerebellum. This makes the elephant an outlier in regard to the number of cerebellar neurons compared to other mammals, which might be related to sensorimotor specializations. In contrast, the elephant cerebral cortex, which has twice the mass of the human cerebral cortex, holds only 5.6 billion neurons, about one third of the number of neurons found in the human cerebral cortex. This finding supports the hypothesis that the larger absolute number of neurons in the human cerebral cortex (but not in the whole brain) is correlated with the superior cognitive abilities of humans compared to elephants and other large-brained mammals. PMID:24971054

  2. History of Animals using Isotope Records (HAIR): a 6-year dietary history of one family of African elephants.

    PubMed

    Cerling, Thure E; Wittemyer, George; Ehleringer, James R; Remien, Christopher H; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain

    2009-05-19

    The dietary and movement history of individual animals can be studied using stable isotope records in animal tissues, providing insight into long-term ecological dynamics and a species niche. We provide a 6-year history of elephant diet by examining tail hair collected from 4 elephants in the same social family unit in northern Kenya. Sequential measurements of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen isotope rations in hair provide a weekly record of diet and water resources. Carbon isotope ratios were well correlated with satellite-based measurements of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of the region occupied by the elephants as recorded by the global positioning system (GPS) movement record; the absolute amount of C(4) grass consumption is well correlated with the maximum value of NDVI during individual wet seasons. Changes in hydrogen isotope ratios coincided very closely in time with seasonal fluctuations in rainfall and NDVI whereas diet shifts to relatively high proportions of grass lagged seasonal increases in NDVI by approximately 2 weeks. The peak probability of conception in the population occurred approximately 3 weeks after peak grazing. Spatial and temporal patterns of resource use show that the only period of pure browsing by the focal elephants was located in an over-grazed, communally managed region outside the protected area. The ability to extract time-specific longitudinal records on animal diets, and therefore the ecological history of an organism and its environment, provides an avenue for understanding the impact of climate dynamics and land-use change on animal foraging behavior and habitat relations. PMID:19365077

  3. History of Animals using Isotope Records (HAIR): a 6-year dietary history of one family of African elephants.

    PubMed

    Cerling, Thure E; Wittemyer, George; Ehleringer, James R; Remien, Christopher H; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain

    2009-05-19

    The dietary and movement history of individual animals can be studied using stable isotope records in animal tissues, providing insight into long-term ecological dynamics and a species niche. We provide a 6-year history of elephant diet by examining tail hair collected from 4 elephants in the same social family unit in northern Kenya. Sequential measurements of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen isotope rations in hair provide a weekly record of diet and water resources. Carbon isotope ratios were well correlated with satellite-based measurements of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of the region occupied by the elephants as recorded by the global positioning system (GPS) movement record; the absolute amount of C(4) grass consumption is well correlated with the maximum value of NDVI during individual wet seasons. Changes in hydrogen isotope ratios coincided very closely in time with seasonal fluctuations in rainfall and NDVI whereas diet shifts to relatively high proportions of grass lagged seasonal increases in NDVI by approximately 2 weeks. The peak probability of conception in the population occurred approximately 3 weeks after peak grazing. Spatial and temporal patterns of resource use show that the only period of pure browsing by the focal elephants was located in an over-grazed, communally managed region outside the protected area. The ability to extract time-specific longitudinal records on animal diets, and therefore the ecological history of an organism and its environment, provides an avenue for understanding the impact of climate dynamics and land-use change on animal foraging behavior and habitat relations.

  4. Effective population size dynamics reveal impacts of historic climatic events and recent anthropogenic pressure in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Okello, J B A; Wittemyer, G; Rasmussen, H B; Arctander, P; Nyakaana, S; Douglas-Hamilton, I; Siegismund, H R

    2008-09-01

    Two hundred years of elephant hunting for ivory, peaking in 1970-1980s, caused local extirpations and massive population declines across Africa. The resulting genetic impacts on surviving populations have not been studied, despite the importance of understanding the evolutionary repercussions of such human-mediated events on this keystone species. Using Bayesian coalescent-based genetic methods to evaluate time-specific changes in effective population size, we analysed genetic variation in 20 highly polymorphic microsatellite loci from 400 elephants inhabiting the greater Samburu-Laikipia region of northern Kenya. This area experienced a decline of between 80% and 90% in the last few decades when ivory harvesting was rampant. The most significant change in effective population size, however, occurred approximately 2500 years ago during a mid-Holocene period of climatic drying in tropical Africa. Contrary to expectations, detailed analyses of four contemporary age-based cohorts showed that the peak poaching epidemic in the 1970s caused detectable temporary genetic impacts, with genetic diversity rebounding as juveniles surviving the poaching era became reproductively mature. This study demonstrates the importance of climatic history in shaping the distribution and genetic history of a keystone species and highlights the utility of coalescent-based demographic approaches in unravelling ancestral demographic events despite a lack of ancient samples. Unique insights into the genetic signature of mid-Holocene climatic change in Africa and effects of recent poaching pressure on elephants are discussed.

  5. Effective population size dynamics reveal impacts of historic climatic events and recent anthropogenic pressure in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Okello, J B A; Wittemyer, G; Rasmussen, H B; Arctander, P; Nyakaana, S; Douglas-Hamilton, I; Siegismund, H R

    2008-09-01

    Two hundred years of elephant hunting for ivory, peaking in 1970-1980s, caused local extirpations and massive population declines across Africa. The resulting genetic impacts on surviving populations have not been studied, despite the importance of understanding the evolutionary repercussions of such human-mediated events on this keystone species. Using Bayesian coalescent-based genetic methods to evaluate time-specific changes in effective population size, we analysed genetic variation in 20 highly polymorphic microsatellite loci from 400 elephants inhabiting the greater Samburu-Laikipia region of northern Kenya. This area experienced a decline of between 80% and 90% in the last few decades when ivory harvesting was rampant. The most significant change in effective population size, however, occurred approximately 2500 years ago during a mid-Holocene period of climatic drying in tropical Africa. Contrary to expectations, detailed analyses of four contemporary age-based cohorts showed that the peak poaching epidemic in the 1970s caused detectable temporary genetic impacts, with genetic diversity rebounding as juveniles surviving the poaching era became reproductively mature. This study demonstrates the importance of climatic history in shaping the distribution and genetic history of a keystone species and highlights the utility of coalescent-based demographic approaches in unravelling ancestral demographic events despite a lack of ancient samples. Unique insights into the genetic signature of mid-Holocene climatic change in Africa and effects of recent poaching pressure on elephants are discussed. PMID:18643879

  6. Land use scenarios development and impacts assessment on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration in the West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabi, A.

    2015-12-01

    AbstractBackground: Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), being developed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires information on the carbon/nitrogen stocks in the plant biomass for predicting future climate under scenarios development. The development of land use scenarios in West Africa is needed to predict future impacts of change in the environment and the socio-economic status of rural communities. The study aims at developing land use scenario based on mitigation strategy to climate change as an issue of contributing for carbon and nitrogen sequestration, the condition 'food focused' as a scenario based crop production and 'financial investment' as scenario based on an economic development pathway, and to explore the possible future temporal and spatial impacts on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration/emission and socio-economic status of rural communities. Preliminary results: BEN-LUDAS (Benin-Land Use DyNamic Simulator) model, carbon and nitrogen equations, remote sensing and socio-economic data were used to predict the future impacts of each scenario in the environment and human systems. The preliminary results which are under analysis will be presented soon. Conclusion: The proposed BEN-LUDAS models will help to contribute to policy decision making at the local and regional scale and to predict future impacts of change in the environment and socio-economic status of the rural communities. Keywords: Land use scenarios development, BEN-LUDAS, socio-economic status of rural communities, future impacts of change, assessment, West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

  7. Land use scenarios development and impacts assessment on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration in the West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabi, A.

    2015-12-01

    ackground: Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), being developed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires information on the carbon/nitrogen stocks in the plant biomass for predicting future climate under scenarios development. The development of land use scenarios in West Africa is needed to predict future impacts of change in the environment and the socio-economic status of rural communities. The study aims at developing land use scenario based on mitigation strategy to climate change as an issue of contributing for carbon and nitrogen sequestration, the condition 'food focused' as a scenario based crop production and 'financial investment' as scenario based on an economic development pathway, and to explore the possible future temporal and spatial impacts on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration/emission and socio-economic status of rural communities. Preliminary results: BEN-LUDAS (Benin-Land Use DyNamic Simulator) model, carbon and nitrogen equations, remote sensing and socio-economic data were used to predict the future impacts of each scenario in the environment and human systems. The preliminary results which are under analysis will be presented soon. Conclusion: The proposed BEN-LUDAS models will help to contribute to policy decision making at the local and regional scale and to predict future impacts of change in the environment and socio-economic status of the rural communities. Keywords: Land use scenarios development, BEN-LUDAS, socio-economic status of rural communities, future impacts of change, assessment, West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

  8. Detection of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus infection among healthy Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in South India.

    PubMed

    Stanton, Jeffrey J; Nofs, Sally A; Zachariah, Arun; Kalaivannan, N; Ling, Paul D

    2014-04-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) can cause fatal hemorrhagic disease in Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants. Of the seven known EEHV species, EEHV1 is recognized as the most common cause of hemorrhagic disease among Asian elephants in human care worldwide. Recent data collected from ex situ Asian elephants located in multiple North American and European institutions suggest that subclinical EEHV1 infection is common in this population of elephants. Although fatal EEHV1-associated hemorrhagic disease has been reported in range countries, data are lacking regarding the prevalence of subclinical EEHV infections among in situ Asian elephants. We used previously validated EEHV-specific quantitative real-time PCR assays to detect subclinical EEHV infection in three regionally distinct Asian elephant cohorts, totaling 46 in situ elephants in South India, during October and November 2011. Using DNA prepared from trunk washes, we detected EEHV1, EEHV3/4, and EEHV5 at frequencies of 7, 9, and 20% respectively. None of the trunk washes was positive for EEHV2 or 6. At least one EEHV species was detectable in 35% (16/46) of the samples that were screened. These data suggest that subclinical EEHV infection among in situ Asian elephants occurs and that Asian elephants may be natural hosts for EEHV1, EEHV3 or 4, and EEHV5, but not EEHV2 and EEHV6. The methodology described in this study provides a foundation for further studies to determine prevalences of EEHV infection in Asian elephants throughout the world.

  9. Elephant ear

    MedlinePlus

    The harmful substances in elephant ear plants are: Oxalic acid Asparagine, a protein found in this plant Note: ... days to a week if treated correctly. Rarely, oxalic acid may cause swelling severe enough to block the ...

  10. Insights into the Management of Large Carnivores for Profitable Wildlife-Based Land Uses in African Savannas

    PubMed Central

    Funston, Paul J.; Groom, Rosemary J.; Lindsey, Peter A.

    2013-01-01

    Large African predators, especially lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus), are financially valuable for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on land also utilized for the production of other wildlife species for the same purpose. Predation of ungulates used for trophy hunting can create conflict with landholders and trade off thus exists between the value of lions and leopards and their impact on ungulate populations. Therefore productionist and conservation trade-offs are complexly graded and difficult to resolve. We investigated this with a risk-benefit analysis on a large private wildlife production area in Zimbabwe. Our model showed that lions result in substantial financial costs through predation on wild ungulates that may not be offset by profits from hunting them, whereas the returns from trophy hunting of leopards are projected to exceed the costs due to leopard predation. In the absence of additional income derived from photo-tourism the number of lions may need to be managed to minimize their impact. Lions drive important ecological processes, but there is a need to balance ecological and financial imperatives on wildlife ranches, community wildlife lands and other categories of multiple use land used for wildlife production. This will ensure the competitiveness of wildlife based land uses relative to alternatives. Our findings may thus be limited to conservancies, community land-use areas and commercial game ranches, which are expansive in Africa, and should not necessarily applied to areas where biodiversity conservation is the primary objective, even if hunting is allowed there. PMID:23527083

  11. Insights into the management of large carnivores for profitable wildlife-based land uses in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Funston, Paul J; Groom, Rosemary J; Lindsey, Peter A

    2013-01-01

    Large African predators, especially lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus), are financially valuable for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on land also utilized for the production of other wildlife species for the same purpose. Predation of ungulates used for trophy hunting can create conflict with landholders and trade off thus exists between the value of lions and leopards and their impact on ungulate populations. Therefore productionist and conservation trade-offs are complexly graded and difficult to resolve. We investigated this with a risk-benefit analysis on a large private wildlife production area in Zimbabwe. Our model showed that lions result in substantial financial costs through predation on wild ungulates that may not be offset by profits from hunting them, whereas the returns from trophy hunting of leopards are projected to exceed the costs due to leopard predation. In the absence of additional income derived from photo-tourism the number of lions may need to be managed to minimize their impact. Lions drive important ecological processes, but there is a need to balance ecological and financial imperatives on wildlife ranches, community wildlife lands and other categories of multiple use land used for wildlife production. This will ensure the competitiveness of wildlife based land uses relative to alternatives. Our findings may thus be limited to conservancies, community land-use areas and commercial game ranches, which are expansive in Africa, and should not necessarily applied to areas where biodiversity conservation is the primary objective, even if hunting is allowed there. PMID:23527083

  12. Insights into the management of large carnivores for profitable wildlife-based land uses in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Funston, Paul J; Groom, Rosemary J; Lindsey, Peter A

    2013-01-01

    Large African predators, especially lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus), are financially valuable for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on land also utilized for the production of other wildlife species for the same purpose. Predation of ungulates used for trophy hunting can create conflict with landholders and trade off thus exists between the value of lions and leopards and their impact on ungulate populations. Therefore productionist and conservation trade-offs are complexly graded and difficult to resolve. We investigated this with a risk-benefit analysis on a large private wildlife production area in Zimbabwe. Our model showed that lions result in substantial financial costs through predation on wild ungulates that may not be offset by profits from hunting them, whereas the returns from trophy hunting of leopards are projected to exceed the costs due to leopard predation. In the absence of additional income derived from photo-tourism the number of lions may need to be managed to minimize their impact. Lions drive important ecological processes, but there is a need to balance ecological and financial imperatives on wildlife ranches, community wildlife lands and other categories of multiple use land used for wildlife production. This will ensure the competitiveness of wildlife based land uses relative to alternatives. Our findings may thus be limited to conservancies, community land-use areas and commercial game ranches, which are expansive in Africa, and should not necessarily applied to areas where biodiversity conservation is the primary objective, even if hunting is allowed there.

  13. Forest elephant crisis in the Congo Basin.

    PubMed

    Blake, Stephen; Strindberg, Samantha; Boudjan, Patrick; Makombo, Calixte; Bila-Isia, Inogwabini; Ilambu, Omari; Grossmann, Falk; Bene-Bene, Lambert; de Semboli, Bruno; Mbenzo, Valentin; S'hwa, Dino; Bayogo, Rosine; Williamson, Liz; Fay, Mike; Hart, John; Maisels, Fiona

    2007-04-01

    Debate over repealing the ivory trade ban dominates conferences of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Resolving this controversy requires accurate estimates of elephant population trends and rates of illegal killing. Most African savannah elephant populations are well known; however, the status of forest elephants, perhaps a distinct species, in the vast Congo Basin is unclear. We assessed population status and incidence of poaching from line-transect and reconnaissance surveys conducted on foot in sites throughout the Congo Basin. Results indicate that the abundance and range of forest elephants are threatened from poaching that is most intense close to roads. The probability of elephant presence increased with distance to roads, whereas that of human signs declined. At all distances from roads, the probability of elephant occurrence was always higher inside, compared to outside, protected areas, whereas that of humans was always lower. Inside protected areas, forest elephant density was correlated with the size of remote forest core, but not with size of protected area. Forest elephants must be prioritised in elephant management planning at the continental scale.

  14. Forest elephant crisis in the Congo Basin.

    PubMed

    Blake, Stephen; Strindberg, Samantha; Boudjan, Patrick; Makombo, Calixte; Bila-Isia, Inogwabini; Ilambu, Omari; Grossmann, Falk; Bene-Bene, Lambert; de Semboli, Bruno; Mbenzo, Valentin; S'hwa, Dino; Bayogo, Rosine; Williamson, Liz; Fay, Mike; Hart, John; Maisels, Fiona

    2007-04-01

    Debate over repealing the ivory trade ban dominates conferences of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Resolving this controversy requires accurate estimates of elephant population trends and rates of illegal killing. Most African savannah elephant populations are well known; however, the status of forest elephants, perhaps a distinct species, in the vast Congo Basin is unclear. We assessed population status and incidence of poaching from line-transect and reconnaissance surveys conducted on foot in sites throughout the Congo Basin. Results indicate that the abundance and range of forest elephants are threatened from poaching that is most intense close to roads. The probability of elephant presence increased with distance to roads, whereas that of human signs declined. At all distances from roads, the probability of elephant occurrence was always higher inside, compared to outside, protected areas, whereas that of humans was always lower. Inside protected areas, forest elephant density was correlated with the size of remote forest core, but not with size of protected area. Forest elephants must be prioritised in elephant management planning at the continental scale. PMID:17407383

  15. Forest Elephant Crisis in the Congo Basin

    PubMed Central

    Blake, Stephen; Strindberg, Samantha; Boudjan, Patrick; Makombo, Calixte; Bila-Isia, Inogwabini; Ilambu, Omari; Grossmann, Falk; Bene-Bene, Lambert; de Semboli, Bruno; Mbenzo, Valentin; S'hwa, Dino; Bayogo, Rosine; Williamson, Liz; Fay, Mike; Hart, John; Maisels, Fiona

    2007-01-01

    Debate over repealing the ivory trade ban dominates conferences of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Resolving this controversy requires accurate estimates of elephant population trends and rates of illegal killing. Most African savannah elephant populations are well known; however, the status of forest elephants, perhaps a distinct species, in the vast Congo Basin is unclear. We assessed population status and incidence of poaching from line-transect and reconnaissance surveys conducted on foot in sites throughout the Congo Basin. Results indicate that the abundance and range of forest elephants are threatened from poaching that is most intense close to roads. The probability of elephant presence increased with distance to roads, whereas that of human signs declined. At all distances from roads, the probability of elephant occurrence was always higher inside, compared to outside, protected areas, whereas that of humans was always lower. Inside protected areas, forest elephant density was correlated with the size of remote forest core, but not with size of protected area. Forest elephants must be prioritised in elephant management planning at the continental scale. PMID:17407383

  16. Extreme expansion of the olfactory receptor gene repertoire in African elephants and evolutionary dynamics of orthologous gene groups in 13 placental mammals.

    PubMed

    Niimura, Yoshihito; Matsui, Atsushi; Touhara, Kazushige

    2014-09-01

    Olfactory receptors (ORs) detect odors in the environment, and OR genes constitute the largest multigene family in mammals. Numbers of OR genes vary greatly among species--reflecting the respective species' lifestyles--and this variation is caused by frequent gene gains and losses during evolution. However, whether the extent of gene gains/losses varies among individual gene lineages and what might generate such variation is unknown. To answer these questions, we used a newly developed phylogeny-based method to classify >10,000 intact OR genes from 13 placental mammal species into 781 orthologous gene groups (OGGs); we then compared the OGGs. Interestingly, African elephants had a surprisingly large repertoire (∼ 2000) of functional OR genes encoded in enlarged gene clusters. Additionally, OR gene lineages that experienced more gene duplication had weaker purifying selection, and Class II OR genes have evolved more dynamically than those in Class I. Some OGGs were highly expanded in a lineage-specific manner, while only three OGGs showed complete one-to-one orthology among the 13 species without any gene gains/losses. These three OGGs also exhibited highly conserved amino acid sequences; therefore, ORs in these OGGs may have physiologically important functions common to every placental mammal. This study provides a basis for inferring OR functions from evolutionary trajectory.

  17. Extreme expansion of the olfactory receptor gene repertoire in African elephants and evolutionary dynamics of orthologous gene groups in 13 placental mammals

    PubMed Central

    Matsui, Atsushi; Touhara, Kazushige

    2014-01-01

    Olfactory receptors (ORs) detect odors in the environment, and OR genes constitute the largest multigene family in mammals. Numbers of OR genes vary greatly among species—reflecting the respective species' lifestyles—and this variation is caused by frequent gene gains and losses during evolution. However, whether the extent of gene gains/losses varies among individual gene lineages and what might generate such variation is unknown. To answer these questions, we used a newly developed phylogeny-based method to classify >10,000 intact OR genes from 13 placental mammal species into 781 orthologous gene groups (OGGs); we then compared the OGGs. Interestingly, African elephants had a surprisingly large repertoire (∼2000) of functional OR genes encoded in enlarged gene clusters. Additionally, OR gene lineages that experienced more gene duplication had weaker purifying selection, and Class II OR genes have evolved more dynamically than those in Class I. Some OGGs were highly expanded in a lineage-specific manner, while only three OGGs showed complete one-to-one orthology among the 13 species without any gene gains/losses. These three OGGs also exhibited highly conserved amino acid sequences; therefore, ORs in these OGGs may have physiologically important functions common to every placental mammal. This study provides a basis for inferring OR functions from evolutionary trajectory. PMID:25053675

  18. Expression of human cell cycle regulators in the primary cell line of the African savannah elephant (loxodonta africana) increases proliferation until senescence, but does not induce immortalization.

    PubMed

    Fukuda, Tomokazu; Iino, Yuuka; Onuma, Manabu; Gen, Bando; Inoue-Murayama, Miho; Kiyono, Tohru

    2016-01-01

    The African savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana) is one of the critically endangered animals. Conservation of genetic and cellular resources is important for the promotion of wild life-related research. Although primary cultured cells are a useful model for the physiology and genomics of the wild-type animals, their distribution is restricted due to the limited number of cell divisions allowed in them. Here, we tried to immortalize a primary cell line of L. africana with by overexpressing human mutant form of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4R24C), cyclin D, and telomerase (TERT). It has been shown before that the combination of human CDK4R24C, cyclin D, and TERT induces the efficient cellular immortalization of cells derived from humans, bovine, swine, and monkeys. Interestingly, although the combination of these three genes extended the cellular proliferation of the L. africana-derived cells, they did not induce cellular immortalization. This study suggest that control of cellular senescence in L. africana-derived cells would be different molecular mechanisms compared to those governing human, bovine, swine, and monkey cells.

  19. Intensity of play behavior as a potential measure of welfare: A novel method for quantifying the integrated intensity of behavior in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Vicino, Greg A; Marcacci, Emily S

    2015-01-01

    To the authors' knowledge there is currently no discrete index to measure the integrated intensity of a play bout in mammals, despite the potential for using intensity and duration of play bouts as a measure of physical activity and welfare. This study was developed to test an equation that quantified the intensity and duration of play bouts in a particularly gregarious mammal, African elephants (Loxodonta africana) housed at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, CA. To quantify these behaviors, we created a scale of intensity and a subsequent equation that produces an index value, giving each unique bout a score. A compilation of these scores provides a range of intensity of play behavior that is a representative value for that particular herd at that point in time, and thus a database to which later bouts can be compared. It can be argued that play behavior is an indicator of positive welfare, and if quantifiable, it is our belief that it can be used as an additional measure of positive welfare in zoo housed animals. Here we present the methods and technique used to calculate a standardized Integrated Play Index (IPI) that has potential for use in other socially living species that are known to exhibit play behavior. PMID:26251201

  20. Intensity of play behavior as a potential measure of welfare: A novel method for quantifying the integrated intensity of behavior in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Vicino, Greg A; Marcacci, Emily S

    2015-01-01

    To the authors' knowledge there is currently no discrete index to measure the integrated intensity of a play bout in mammals, despite the potential for using intensity and duration of play bouts as a measure of physical activity and welfare. This study was developed to test an equation that quantified the intensity and duration of play bouts in a particularly gregarious mammal, African elephants (Loxodonta africana) housed at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, CA. To quantify these behaviors, we created a scale of intensity and a subsequent equation that produces an index value, giving each unique bout a score. A compilation of these scores provides a range of intensity of play behavior that is a representative value for that particular herd at that point in time, and thus a database to which later bouts can be compared. It can be argued that play behavior is an indicator of positive welfare, and if quantifiable, it is our belief that it can be used as an additional measure of positive welfare in zoo housed animals. Here we present the methods and technique used to calculate a standardized Integrated Play Index (IPI) that has potential for use in other socially living species that are known to exhibit play behavior.

  1. Structure and presumptive function of the iridocorneal angle of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), and African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Hatfield, Jessie R; Samuelson, Don A; Lewis, Patricia A; Chisholm, Mae

    2003-03-01

    The iridocorneal angles of prepared eyes from the West Indian manatee, short-finned pilot whale, hippopotamus and African elephant were examined and compared using light microscopy. The manatee and pilot whale demonstrated capacity for a large amount of aqueous outflow, probably as part of a system compensating for lack of ciliary musculature, and possibly also related to environmental changes associated with life at varying depths. The elephant angle displayed many characteristics of large herbivores, but was found to have relatively low capacity for aqueous outflow via both primary and secondary routes. The hippopotamus shared characteristics with both land- and water-dwelling mammals; uveoscleral aqueous outflow may be substantial as in the marine mammals, but the angular aqueous plexus was less extensive and a robust pectinate ligament was present. The angles varied greatly in size and composition among the four species, and most structures were found to be uniquely suited to the habitat of each animal.

  2. Structure and presumptive function of the iridocorneal angle of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), and African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Hatfield, Jessie R; Samuelson, Don A; Lewis, Patricia A; Chisholm, Mae

    2003-03-01

    The iridocorneal angles of prepared eyes from the West Indian manatee, short-finned pilot whale, hippopotamus and African elephant were examined and compared using light microscopy. The manatee and pilot whale demonstrated capacity for a large amount of aqueous outflow, probably as part of a system compensating for lack of ciliary musculature, and possibly also related to environmental changes associated with life at varying depths. The elephant angle displayed many characteristics of large herbivores, but was found to have relatively low capacity for aqueous outflow via both primary and secondary routes. The hippopotamus shared characteristics with both land- and water-dwelling mammals; uveoscleral aqueous outflow may be substantial as in the marine mammals, but the angular aqueous plexus was less extensive and a robust pectinate ligament was present. The angles varied greatly in size and composition among the four species, and most structures were found to be uniquely suited to the habitat of each animal. PMID:12641841

  3. The consequences of poaching and anthropogenic change for forest elephants.

    PubMed

    Breuer, Thomas; Maisels, Fiona; Fishlock, Vicki

    2016-10-01

    Poaching has devastated forest elephant populations (Loxodonta cyclotis), and their habitat is dramatically changing. The long-term effects of poaching and other anthropogenic threats have been well studied in savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana), but the impacts of these changes for Central Africa's forest elephants have not been discussed. We examined potential repercussions of these threats and the related consequences for forest elephants in Central Africa by summarizing the lessons learned from savannah elephants and small forest elephant populations in West Africa. Forest elephant social organization is less known than the social organization of savannah elephants, but the close evolutionary history of these species suggests that they will respond to anthropogenic threats in broadly similar ways. The loss of older, experienced individuals in an elephant population disrupts ecological, social, and population parameters. Severe reduction of elephant abundance within Central Africa's forests can alter plant communities and ecosystem functions. Poaching, habitat alterations, and human population increase are probably compressing forest elephants into protected areas and increasing human-elephant conflict, which negatively affects their conservation. We encourage conservationists to look beyond documenting forest elephant population decline and address the causes of these declines when developing conversation strategies. We suggest assessing the effectiveness of the existing protected-area networks for landscape connectivity in light of current industrial and infrastructure development. Longitudinal assessments of the effects of landscape changes on forest elephant sociality and behavior are also needed. Finally, lessons learned from West African elephant population loss and habitat fragmentation should be used to inform strategies for land-use planning and managing human-elephant interactions. PMID:26801000

  4. The consequences of poaching and anthropogenic change for forest elephants.

    PubMed

    Breuer, Thomas; Maisels, Fiona; Fishlock, Vicki

    2016-10-01

    Poaching has devastated forest elephant populations (Loxodonta cyclotis), and their habitat is dramatically changing. The long-term effects of poaching and other anthropogenic threats have been well studied in savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana), but the impacts of these changes for Central Africa's forest elephants have not been discussed. We examined potential repercussions of these threats and the related consequences for forest elephants in Central Africa by summarizing the lessons learned from savannah elephants and small forest elephant populations in West Africa. Forest elephant social organization is less known than the social organization of savannah elephants, but the close evolutionary history of these species suggests that they will respond to anthropogenic threats in broadly similar ways. The loss of older, experienced individuals in an elephant population disrupts ecological, social, and population parameters. Severe reduction of elephant abundance within Central Africa's forests can alter plant communities and ecosystem functions. Poaching, habitat alterations, and human population increase are probably compressing forest elephants into protected areas and increasing human-elephant conflict, which negatively affects their conservation. We encourage conservationists to look beyond documenting forest elephant population decline and address the causes of these declines when developing conversation strategies. We suggest assessing the effectiveness of the existing protected-area networks for landscape connectivity in light of current industrial and infrastructure development. Longitudinal assessments of the effects of landscape changes on forest elephant sociality and behavior are also needed. Finally, lessons learned from West African elephant population loss and habitat fragmentation should be used to inform strategies for land-use planning and managing human-elephant interactions.

  5. Large herbivores facilitate savanna tree establishment via diverse and indirect pathways.

    PubMed

    Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M; Keesing, Felicia; Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2010-03-01

    1. Savanna ecosystems are defined largely by tree-grass mixtures, and tree establishment is a key driver of community structure and ecosystem function in these systems. The factors controlling savanna tree establishment are understudied, but likely involve some combination of seed, microsite and predator/fire limitation. In African savannas, suppression and killing of adult trees by large mammals like elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach, 1797) and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis Linnaeus, 1758) can maintain tree-grass co-dominance, although the impacts of even these conspicuous herbivores on tree establishment also are poorly understood. 2. We combined seed addition and predator exclusion experiments with a large-scale, long-term field manipulation of large herbivores to investigate the relative importance of seeds, microsites and predators in limiting establishment of a monodominant tree (Acacia drepanolobium Sjostedt) in a Kenyan savanna. 3. Both wild and domestic (i.e. cattle; Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758) large herbivores facilitated tree establishment by suppressing abundances of rodents, the most important seed and seedling predators. However, this indirect, positive effect of wild herbivores was negated by wild herbivores' suppression of seed production. Cattle did not have this direct, negative impact; rather, they further assisted tree establishment by reducing cover of understorey grasses. Thus, the impacts of both groups of large herbivores on tree establishment were largely routed through other taxa, with a negligible net effect of wild herbivores and a positive net effect of cattle on tree establishment. 4. The distinction between the (positive) net effect of cattle and (neutral) net effect of wild herbivores is due to the inclusion of browsers and mixed feeders within the assemblage of wild herbivores. Browsing by wild herbivores limited seed production, which reduced tree recruitment; grazing by cattle was more pronounced than that by wild

  6. Large herbivores facilitate savanna tree establishment via diverse and indirect pathways.

    PubMed

    Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M; Keesing, Felicia; Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2010-03-01

    1. Savanna ecosystems are defined largely by tree-grass mixtures, and tree establishment is a key driver of community structure and ecosystem function in these systems. The factors controlling savanna tree establishment are understudied, but likely involve some combination of seed, microsite and predator/fire limitation. In African savannas, suppression and killing of adult trees by large mammals like elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach, 1797) and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis Linnaeus, 1758) can maintain tree-grass co-dominance, although the impacts of even these conspicuous herbivores on tree establishment also are poorly understood. 2. We combined seed addition and predator exclusion experiments with a large-scale, long-term field manipulation of large herbivores to investigate the relative importance of seeds, microsites and predators in limiting establishment of a monodominant tree (Acacia drepanolobium Sjostedt) in a Kenyan savanna. 3. Both wild and domestic (i.e. cattle; Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758) large herbivores facilitated tree establishment by suppressing abundances of rodents, the most important seed and seedling predators. However, this indirect, positive effect of wild herbivores was negated by wild herbivores' suppression of seed production. Cattle did not have this direct, negative impact; rather, they further assisted tree establishment by reducing cover of understorey grasses. Thus, the impacts of both groups of large herbivores on tree establishment were largely routed through other taxa, with a negligible net effect of wild herbivores and a positive net effect of cattle on tree establishment. 4. The distinction between the (positive) net effect of cattle and (neutral) net effect of wild herbivores is due to the inclusion of browsers and mixed feeders within the assemblage of wild herbivores. Browsing by wild herbivores limited seed production, which reduced tree recruitment; grazing by cattle was more pronounced than that by wild

  7. Allometric scaling predicts preferences for burned patches in a guild of East African grazers.

    PubMed

    Sensenig, Ryan L; Demment, Montague W; Laca, Emilio A

    2010-10-01

    The high herbivore diversity in savanna systems has been attributed to the inherent spatial and temporal heterogeneity related to the quantity and quality of food resources. Allometric scaling predicts that smaller-bodied grazers rely on higher quality forage than larger-bodied grazers. We replicated burns at varying scales in an East African savanna and measured visitation by an entire guild of larger grazers ranging in size from hare to elephant. We found a strong negative relationship between burn preference and body mass with foregut fermenters preferring burns to a greater degree than hindgut fermenters. Burns with higher quality forage were preferred more than burns with lower quality forage by small-bodied grazers, while the opposite was true for large-bodied grazers. Our results represent some of the first experimental evidence demonstrating the importance of body size in predicting how large herbivores respond to fire-induced changes in plant quality and quantity.

  8. Minimum cost of transport in Asian elephants: do we really need a bigger elephant?

    PubMed

    Langman, Vaughan A; Rowe, Michael F; Roberts, Thomas J; Langman, Nathanial V; Taylor, Charles R

    2012-05-01

    Body mass is the primary determinant of an animal's energy requirements. At their optimum walking speed, large animals have lower mass-specific energy requirements for locomotion than small ones. In animals ranging in size from 0.8 g (roach) to 260 kg (zebu steer), the minimum cost of transport (COT(min)) decreases with increasing body size roughly as COT(min)∝body mass (M(b))(-0.316±0.023) (95% CI). Typically, the variation of COT(min) with body mass is weaker at the intraspecific level as a result of physiological and geometric similarity within closely related species. The interspecific relationship estimates that an adult elephant, with twice the body mass of a mid-sized elephant, should be able to move its body approximately 23% cheaper than the smaller elephant. We sought to determine whether adult Asian and sub-adult African elephants follow a single quasi-intraspecific relationship, and extend the interspecific relationship between COT(min) and body mass to 12-fold larger animals. Physiological and possibly geometric similarity between adult Asian elephants and sub-adult African elephants caused body mass to have a no effect on COT(min) (COT(min)∝M(b)(0.007±0.455)). The COT(min) in elephants occurred at walking speeds between 1.3 and ∼1.5 m s(-1), and at Froude numbers between 0.10 and 0.24. The addition of adult Asian elephants to the interspecific relationship resulted in COT(min)∝M (-0.277±0.046)(b). The quasi-intraspecific relationship between body mass and COT(min) among elephants caused the interspecific relationship to underestimate COT(min) in larger elephants.

  9. Minimum cost of transport in Asian elephants: do we really need a bigger elephant?

    PubMed

    Langman, Vaughan A; Rowe, Michael F; Roberts, Thomas J; Langman, Nathanial V; Taylor, Charles R

    2012-05-01

    Body mass is the primary determinant of an animal's energy requirements. At their optimum walking speed, large animals have lower mass-specific energy requirements for locomotion than small ones. In animals ranging in size from 0.8 g (roach) to 260 kg (zebu steer), the minimum cost of transport (COT(min)) decreases with increasing body size roughly as COT(min)∝body mass (M(b))(-0.316±0.023) (95% CI). Typically, the variation of COT(min) with body mass is weaker at the intraspecific level as a result of physiological and geometric similarity within closely related species. The interspecific relationship estimates that an adult elephant, with twice the body mass of a mid-sized elephant, should be able to move its body approximately 23% cheaper than the smaller elephant. We sought to determine whether adult Asian and sub-adult African elephants follow a single quasi-intraspecific relationship, and extend the interspecific relationship between COT(min) and body mass to 12-fold larger animals. Physiological and possibly geometric similarity between adult Asian elephants and sub-adult African elephants caused body mass to have a no effect on COT(min) (COT(min)∝M(b)(0.007±0.455)). The COT(min) in elephants occurred at walking speeds between 1.3 and ∼1.5 m s(-1), and at Froude numbers between 0.10 and 0.24. The addition of adult Asian elephants to the interspecific relationship resulted in COT(min)∝M (-0.277±0.046)(b). The quasi-intraspecific relationship between body mass and COT(min) among elephants caused the interspecific relationship to underestimate COT(min) in larger elephants. PMID:22496287

  10. The sizes of elephant groups in zoos: implications for elephant welfare.

    PubMed

    Rees, Paul A

    2009-01-01

    This study examined the distribution of 495 Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and 336 African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in 194 zoos, most of which were located in Europe (49.1%) and North America (32.6%). Cows outnumbered bulls 4 to 1 (Loxodonta) and 3 to 1 (Elephas). Groups contained 7 or fewer: mean, 4.28 (sigma = 5.73). One fifth of elephants lived alone or with one conspecific. Forty-six elephants (5.5%) had no conspecific. Many zoos ignore minimum group sizes of regional zoo association guidelines. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association recommends that breeding facilities keep herds of 6 to 12 elephants. The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommends keeping together at least 4 cows over 2 years old. Over 69% Asian and 80% African cow groups-including those under 2 years-consisted of fewer than 4 individuals. Recently, Europe and North America have made progress with some zoos no longer keeping elephants and with others investing in improved facilities and forming larger herds. The welfare of individual elephants should outweigh all other considerations; zoos should urgently seek to integrate small groups into larger herds.

  11. Detection of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus infection among healthy Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in South India.

    PubMed

    Stanton, Jeffrey J; Nofs, Sally A; Zachariah, Arun; Kalaivannan, N; Ling, Paul D

    2014-04-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) can cause fatal hemorrhagic disease in Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants. Of the seven known EEHV species, EEHV1 is recognized as the most common cause of hemorrhagic disease among Asian elephants in human care worldwide. Recent data collected from ex situ Asian elephants located in multiple North American and European institutions suggest that subclinical EEHV1 infection is common in this population of elephants. Although fatal EEHV1-associated hemorrhagic disease has been reported in range countries, data are lacking regarding the prevalence of subclinical EEHV infections among in situ Asian elephants. We used previously validated EEHV-specific quantitative real-time PCR assays to detect subclinical EEHV infection in three regionally distinct Asian elephant cohorts, totaling 46 in situ elephants in South India, during October and November 2011. Using DNA prepared from trunk washes, we detected EEHV1, EEHV3/4, and EEHV5 at frequencies of 7, 9, and 20% respectively. None of the trunk washes was positive for EEHV2 or 6. At least one EEHV species was detectable in 35% (16/46) of the samples that were screened. These data suggest that subclinical EEHV infection among in situ Asian elephants occurs and that Asian elephants may be natural hosts for EEHV1, EEHV3 or 4, and EEHV5, but not EEHV2 and EEHV6. The methodology described in this study provides a foundation for further studies to determine prevalences of EEHV infection in Asian elephants throughout the world. PMID:24484479

  12. How Bees Deter Elephants: Beehive Trials with Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon.

    PubMed

    Ngama, Steeve; Korte, Lisa; Bindelle, Jérôme; Vermeulen, Cédric; Poulsen, John R

    2016-01-01

    In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative perception of wild animal conservation among rural people. In this context, crop-raiding animals like elephants quickly become "problem animals". To deter elephants from raiding crops beehives have been successfully employed in East Africa; however, this method has not yet been tested in Central Africa. We experimentally examined whether the presence of Apis mellifera adansonii, the African honey bee species present in Central Africa, deters forest elephants (Loxodonta Africana cyclotis) from feeding on fruit trees. We show for the first time that the effectiveness of beehives as deterrents of elephants is related to bee activity. Empty hives and those housing colonies of low bee activity do not deter elephants all the time; but beehives with high bee activity do. Although elephant disturbance of hives does not impede honey production, there is a tradeoff between deterrence and the quantity of honey produced. To best achieve the dual goals of deterring elephants and producing honey colonies must maintain an optimum activity level of 40 to 60 bee movements per minute. Thus, beehives colonized by Apis mellifera adansonii bees can be effective elephant deterrents, but people must actively manage hives to maintain bee colonies at the optimum activity level.

  13. How Bees Deter Elephants: Beehive Trials with Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon.

    PubMed

    Ngama, Steeve; Korte, Lisa; Bindelle, Jérôme; Vermeulen, Cédric; Poulsen, John R

    2016-01-01

    In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative perception of wild animal conservation among rural people. In this context, crop-raiding animals like elephants quickly become "problem animals". To deter elephants from raiding crops beehives have been successfully employed in East Africa; however, this method has not yet been tested in Central Africa. We experimentally examined whether the presence of Apis mellifera adansonii, the African honey bee species present in Central Africa, deters forest elephants (Loxodonta Africana cyclotis) from feeding on fruit trees. We show for the first time that the effectiveness of beehives as deterrents of elephants is related to bee activity. Empty hives and those housing colonies of low bee activity do not deter elephants all the time; but beehives with high bee activity do. Although elephant disturbance of hives does not impede honey production, there is a tradeoff between deterrence and the quantity of honey produced. To best achieve the dual goals of deterring elephants and producing honey colonies must maintain an optimum activity level of 40 to 60 bee movements per minute. Thus, beehives colonized by Apis mellifera adansonii bees can be effective elephant deterrents, but people must actively manage hives to maintain bee colonies at the optimum activity level. PMID:27196059

  14. How Bees Deter Elephants: Beehive Trials with Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon

    PubMed Central

    Ngama, Steeve; Korte, Lisa; Bindelle, Jérôme; Vermeulen, Cédric; Poulsen, John R.

    2016-01-01

    In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative perception of wild animal conservation among rural people. In this context, crop-raiding animals like elephants quickly become “problem animals”. To deter elephants from raiding crops beehives have been successfully employed in East Africa; however, this method has not yet been tested in Central Africa. We experimentally examined whether the presence of Apis mellifera adansonii, the African honey bee species present in Central Africa, deters forest elephants (Loxodonta Africana cyclotis) from feeding on fruit trees. We show for the first time that the effectiveness of beehives as deterrents of elephants is related to bee activity. Empty hives and those housing colonies of low bee activity do not deter elephants all the time; but beehives with high bee activity do. Although elephant disturbance of hives does not impede honey production, there is a tradeoff between deterrence and the quantity of honey produced. To best achieve the dual goals of deterring elephants and producing honey colonies must maintain an optimum activity level of 40 to 60 bee movements per minute. Thus, beehives colonized by Apis mellifera adansonii bees can be effective elephant deterrents, but people must actively manage hives to maintain bee colonies at the optimum activity level. PMID:27196059

  15. Seismic waves from elephant vocalizations: A possible communication mode?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Günther, Roland H.; O'Connell-Rodwell, Caitlin E.; Klemperer, Simon L.

    2004-06-01

    We conducted experiments with trained African elephants that show that low-frequency elephant vocalizations produce Rayleigh waves. We model a potential range for these seismic waves, under ideal conditions, of c. 2 km. In appropriate conditions, surface waves from an elephant's infrasonic vocalizations might propagate further than airborne sound and provide advantages over acoustic communication. However, if we use the detection capabilities of the human ear as a benchmark for the signal-detection thresholds of elephants, our estimates of attenuation and ambient seismic noise suggest that the seismic detection range is unlikely to exceed the acoustic detection range under normal atmospheric conditions. We conclude that elephants may benefit from seismic detection in circumstances where the range of acoustic communication is limited, or in cases where multimodal communication is advantageous. Given our current understanding, elephants are unlikely to rely on seismic waves as their primary mode for long-range communication.

  16. Vocal learning in elephants: neural bases and adaptive context.

    PubMed

    Stoeger, Angela S; Manger, Paul

    2014-10-01

    In the last decade clear evidence has accumulated that elephants are capable of vocal production learning. Examples of vocal imitation are documented in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants, but little is known about the function of vocal learning within the natural communication systems of either species. We are also just starting to identify the neural basis of elephant vocalizations. The African elephant diencephalon and brainstem possess specializations related to aspects of neural information processing in the motor system (affecting the timing and learning of trunk movements) and the auditory and vocalization system. Comparative interdisciplinary (from behavioral to neuroanatomical) studies are strongly warranted to increase our understanding of both vocal learning and vocal behavior in elephants.

  17. Vocal learning in elephants: neural bases and adaptive context

    PubMed Central

    Stoeger, Angela S; Manger, Paul

    2014-01-01

    In the last decade clear evidence has accumulated that elephants are capable of vocal production learning. Examples of vocal imitation are documented in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants, but little is known about the function of vocal learning within the natural communication systems of either species. We are also just starting to identify the neural basis of elephant vocalizations. The African elephant diencephalon and brainstem possess specializations related to aspects of neural information processing in the motor system (affecting the timing and learning of trunk movements) and the auditory and vocalization system. Comparative interdisciplinary (from behavioral to neuroanatomical) studies are strongly warranted to increase our understanding of both vocal learning and vocal behavior in elephants. PMID:25062469

  18. Vocal learning in elephants: neural bases and adaptive context.

    PubMed

    Stoeger, Angela S; Manger, Paul

    2014-10-01

    In the last decade clear evidence has accumulated that elephants are capable of vocal production learning. Examples of vocal imitation are documented in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants, but little is known about the function of vocal learning within the natural communication systems of either species. We are also just starting to identify the neural basis of elephant vocalizations. The African elephant diencephalon and brainstem possess specializations related to aspects of neural information processing in the motor system (affecting the timing and learning of trunk movements) and the auditory and vocalization system. Comparative interdisciplinary (from behavioral to neuroanatomical) studies are strongly warranted to increase our understanding of both vocal learning and vocal behavior in elephants. PMID:25062469

  19. Aspects of elephant behavior, ecology, and interactions with humans

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Connell, Caitlin Elizabeth

    This dissertation is comprised of two chapters relating to the acoustic behavior of elephants, their surrounding ecology and interactions with humans. The first chapter investigates the seismic aspects of Asian elephant (Elephus maximus) acoustic communication. The second chapter is comprised of a synthesis of two separate studies conducted on the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) in Namibia, both in Etosha National Park and the Caprivi region. The two studies were combined and published in Biological Conservation as one large study on aspects of the economic and social impacts of elephant/human conflict and experiments conducted to reduce conflict. In chapter one, seismic and acoustic data were recorded simultaneously from Asian elephants during periods of vocalizations and locomotion. Acoustic and seismic signals from rumbles were highly correlated at near and far distances and were in phase near the elephant and were out of phase at an increased distance from the elephant. Data analyses indicated that elephant generated signals associated with rumbles and "foot stomps" propagated at different velocities in the two media, the acoustic signals traveling at 309 m/s and the seismic signals at 248--264 m/s. Both types of signals had predominant frequencies in the range of 20 Hz. Seismic signal amplitudes considerably above background noise were recorded at 40 m from the generating elephants for both the rumble and the stomp. Seismic propagation models suggest that seismic waveforms from vocalizations are potentially detectable by instruments at distances of up to 16 km, and up to 32 km for locomotion generated signals. Thus, if detectable by elephants, these seismic signals could be useful for long distance communication. In chapter two, the economic impact of elephants, Loxodonta africana , and predators, particularly lions, Panthera leo, on rural agriculturists in the Kwando region of the East Caprivi, Namibia was assessed from the years 1991 to 1995. Elephants

  20. Megagardeners of the forest - the role of elephants in seed dispersal

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Campos-Arceiz, Ahimsa; Blake, Steve

    2011-11-01

    As the largest frugivores on Earth, elephants have unique ecological properties. Found in deserts, savannahs, and forests, they are the last remnants of a diverse lineage. Among the three currently recognized forms, African forest elephants are the most frugivorous, followed by Asian and African savannah elephants, although their role as seed dispersers is variable and context-dependent. African forest elephants may consume more seeds from more species than any other taxon of large vertebrate dispersers, defecating them over long distances in viable conditions into nutrient-rich and protective dung. In short, elephants are forest gardeners. The signature of elephant dispersal is evident in the spatial distribution of trees suggesting that elephants maintain tree diversity and retain low redundancy in seed dispersal systems. Large numbers of forest elephants ranging over large areas may be essential for ecosystem function. The loss of elephants will have important negative consequences for the ecological trajectories of some plant species and whole ecological communities, yet the conservation status of forest elephants is catastrophic in Asia and rapidly becoming so in Africa due to hunting and other conflicts with people. In this paper we review the current knowledge of elephants as seed dispersers, discuss the ecological consequences of their decline, and suggest priority areas for research and conservation action.

  1. Effects of tree harvest on the stable-state dynamics of savanna and forest.

    PubMed

    Tredennick, Andrew T; Hanan, Niall P

    2015-05-01

    Contemporary theory on the maintenance and stability of the savanna biome has focused extensively on how climate and disturbances interact to affect tree growth and demography. In particular, the role of fire in reducing tree cover from climatic maxima is now well appreciated, and in certain cases, herbivory also strongly affects tree cover. However, in African savannas and forests, harvest of trees by humans for cooking and heating is an oft overlooked disturbance. Thus, we incorporate tree harvest into a population dynamic model of grasses, savanna saplings, savanna trees, and forest trees. We use assumptions about the differential demographic responses of savanna trees and forest trees to harvest to show how tree harvest influences tree cover, demography, and community composition. Tree harvest can erode the intrinsic basin of attraction for forest and make a state transition via fire to savanna more likely. The savanna state is generally resilient to all but high levels of tree harvest because of the resprouting abilities of savanna trees. In the absence of active fire suppression, our analysis suggests that we can expect to see large and potentially irreversible shifts from forest to savanna as demand increases for charcoal in sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, savanna tree species' traits promote savanna stability in the face of low to moderate harvest pressure. PMID:25905514

  2. Changes in grass plant populations and temporal soil seed bank dynamics in a semi-arid African savanna: Implications for restoration.

    PubMed

    Tessema, Zewdu K; de Boer, Willem F; Prins, Herbert H T

    2016-11-01

    The re-colonization or recovery of grass species after disappearance due to heavy grazing depends on the presence of persistent soil seed banks that might be accumulated over time from the aboveground vegetation. Moreover, successful plant recruitment is a function of seed production, seed germination and seedling survival, which can be mechanistically understood through studying the life cycle processes of grass species populations under field conditions. Therefore, we studied the number of germinable seeds, species richness and life-forms in the soil seed banks under light and heavy grazing conditions, and the changes in grass species populations in a semi-arid savanna of Ethiopia. Accordingly, a total of 103 species (15 perennial and 29 annual grasses, 6 legumes, 52 forbs and 1 woody species) emerged from the soil samples collected. Lightly grazed sites had a higher seed density compared with heavily grazed sites. The seed density increased over the first three months of soil sampling and decreased thereafter. Perennial grasses dominated the light grazing sites, whereas annual species dominated the heavily grazed sites, indicating that perennial grasses were replaced by annual species in the soil seed bank through grazing. The mean mortality rate from the seedling stage to adult plants was 65%. The seed-to-seedling stage was found to be the most critical transitional stage for grass survival. High seedling mortality in the aboveground vegetation and depletion of seeds in the soil seed banks as a result of sustained heavy grazing can lead to local extinction and disappearance of perennial grasses in semi-arid Ethiopian savannas. PMID:27472053

  3. The elephant interferon gamma assay: a contribution to diagnosis of tuberculosis in elephants.

    PubMed

    Angkawanish, T; Morar, D; van Kooten, P; Bontekoning, I; Schreuder, J; Maas, M; Wajjwalku, W; Sirimalaisuwan, A; Michel, A; Tijhaar, E; Rutten, V

    2013-11-01

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) has been shown to be the main causative agent of tuberculosis in elephants worldwide. M. tb may be transmitted from infected humans to other species including elephants and vice versa, in case of prolonged intensive contact. An accurate diagnostic approach covering all phases of the infection in elephants is required. As M. tb is an intracellular pathogen and cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses are elicited early after infection, the skin test is the CMI assay of choice in humans and cattle. However, this test is not applicable in elephants. The interferon gamma (IFN-γ) assay is considered a good alternative for the skin test in general, validated for use in cattle and humans. This study was aimed at development of an IFN-γ assay applicable for diagnosis of tuberculosis in elephants. Recombinant elephant IFN-γ (rEpIFN-γ) produced in eukaryotic cells was used to immunize mice and generate the monoclonal antibodies. Hybridomas were screened for IFN-γ-specific monoclonal antibody production and subcloned, and antibodies were isotyped and affinity purified. Western blot confirmed recognition of the rEpIFN-γ. The optimal combination of capture and detection antibodies selected was able to detect rEpIFN-γ in concentrations as low as 1 pg/ml. The assay was shown to be able to detect the native elephant IFN-γ, elicited in positive-control cultures (pokeweed mitogen (PWM), phorbol myristate acetate plus ionomycin (PMA/I)) of both Asian and African elephant whole-blood cultures (WBC). Preliminary data were generated using WBC from non-infected elephants, a M. tb infection-suspected elephant and a culture-confirmed M. tb-infected elephant. The latter showed measurable production of IFN-γ after stimulation with ESAT6/CFP10 PPDB and PPDA in concentration ranges as elicited in WBC by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC)-specific antigens in other species. Hence, the IFN-γ assay presented potential as a diagnostic tool for the

  4. Using morphometric and analytical techniques to characterize elephant ivory.

    PubMed

    Singh, Rina Rani; Goyal, Surendra Prakash; Khanna, Param Pal; Mukherjee, Pulok Kumar; Sukumar, Raman

    2006-10-16

    There is a need to characterize Asian elephant ivory and compare with African ivory for controlling illegal trade and implementation of national and international laws. In this paper, we characterize ivory of Asian and African elephants using Schreger angle measurements, elemental analysis {X-ray fluorescence (XRF), inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS)} and isotopic analysis. We recorded Schreger angle characteristics of elephant ivory at three different zones in ivory samples of African (n=12) and Asian (n=28) elephants. The Schreger angle ranged from 32 degrees to 145 degrees and 30 degrees to 153 degrees in Asian and African ivory, respectively. Elemental analysis (for Asian and African ivory) by XRF, ICP-AES and ICP-MS provided preliminary data. We attempted to ascertain source of origin of Asian elephant ivory similarly as in African ivory based on isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and strontium. We determined isotopic ratios of carbon (n=31) and nitrogen (n=31) corresponding to diet and rainfall, respectively. Reference ivory samples from five areas within India were analyzed using collagen and powder sample and the latter was found more suitable for forensic analysis. During our preliminary analysis, the range of delta13C values (-13.6+/-0.15 per thousand and -25.6+/-0.15 per thousand) and delta15N values (10.2+/-0.15 per thousand and 3.5+/-0.15 per thousand) were noted.

  5. Devastating decline of forest elephants in central Africa.

    PubMed

    Maisels, Fiona; Strindberg, Samantha; Blake, Stephen; Wittemyer, George; Hart, John; Williamson, Elizabeth A; Aba'a, Rostand; Abitsi, Gaspard; Ambahe, Ruffin D; Amsini, Fidèl; Bakabana, Parfait C; Hicks, Thurston Cleveland; Bayogo, Rosine E; Bechem, Martha; Beyers, Rene L; Bezangoye, Anicet N; Boundja, Patrick; Bout, Nicolas; Akou, Marc Ella; Bene, Lambert Bene; Fosso, Bernard; Greengrass, Elizabeth; Grossmann, Falk; Ikamba-Nkulu, Clement; Ilambu, Omari; Inogwabini, Bila-Isia; Iyenguet, Fortune; Kiminou, Franck; Kokangoye, Max; Kujirakwinja, Deo; Latour, Stephanie; Liengola, Innocent; Mackaya, Quevain; Madidi, Jacob; Madzoke, Bola; Makoumbou, Calixte; Malanda, Guy-Aimé; Malonga, Richard; Mbani, Olivier; Mbendzo, Valentin A; Ambassa, Edgar; Ekinde, Albert; Mihindou, Yves; Morgan, Bethan J; Motsaba, Prosper; Moukala, Gabin; Mounguengui, Anselme; Mowawa, Brice S; Ndzai, Christian; Nixon, Stuart; Nkumu, Pele; Nzolani, Fabian; Pintea, Lilian; Plumptre, Andrew; Rainey, Hugo; de Semboli, Bruno Bokoto; Serckx, Adeline; Stokes, Emma; Turkalo, Andrea; Vanleeuwe, Hilde; Vosper, Ashley; Warren, Ymke

    2013-01-01

    African forest elephants- taxonomically and functionally unique-are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002-2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced.

  6. Devastating decline of forest elephants in central Africa.

    PubMed

    Maisels, Fiona; Strindberg, Samantha; Blake, Stephen; Wittemyer, George; Hart, John; Williamson, Elizabeth A; Aba'a, Rostand; Abitsi, Gaspard; Ambahe, Ruffin D; Amsini, Fidèl; Bakabana, Parfait C; Hicks, Thurston Cleveland; Bayogo, Rosine E; Bechem, Martha; Beyers, Rene L; Bezangoye, Anicet N; Boundja, Patrick; Bout, Nicolas; Akou, Marc Ella; Bene, Lambert Bene; Fosso, Bernard; Greengrass, Elizabeth; Grossmann, Falk; Ikamba-Nkulu, Clement; Ilambu, Omari; Inogwabini, Bila-Isia; Iyenguet, Fortune; Kiminou, Franck; Kokangoye, Max; Kujirakwinja, Deo; Latour, Stephanie; Liengola, Innocent; Mackaya, Quevain; Madidi, Jacob; Madzoke, Bola; Makoumbou, Calixte; Malanda, Guy-Aimé; Malonga, Richard; Mbani, Olivier; Mbendzo, Valentin A; Ambassa, Edgar; Ekinde, Albert; Mihindou, Yves; Morgan, Bethan J; Motsaba, Prosper; Moukala, Gabin; Mounguengui, Anselme; Mowawa, Brice S; Ndzai, Christian; Nixon, Stuart; Nkumu, Pele; Nzolani, Fabian; Pintea, Lilian; Plumptre, Andrew; Rainey, Hugo; de Semboli, Bruno Bokoto; Serckx, Adeline; Stokes, Emma; Turkalo, Andrea; Vanleeuwe, Hilde; Vosper, Ashley; Warren, Ymke

    2013-01-01

    African forest elephants- taxonomically and functionally unique-are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002-2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced. PMID:23469289

  7. The return of the giants: ecological effects of an increasing elephant population.

    PubMed

    Skarpe, Christina; Aarrestad, Per Arild; Andreassen, Harry P; Dhillion, Shivcharn S; Dimakatso, Thatayaone; du Toit, Johan T; Duncan; Halley, J; Hytteborn, Håkan; Makhabu, Shimane; Mari, Moses; Marokane, Wilson; Masunga, Gaseitsiwe; Ditshoswane, Modise; Moe, Stein R; Mojaphoko, Rapelang; Mosugelo, David; Motsumi, Sekgowa; Neo-Mahupeleng, Gosiame; Ramotadima, Mpho; Rutina, Lucas; Sechele, Lettie; Sejoe, Thato B; Stokke, Sigbjørn; Swenson, Jon E; Taolo, Cyril; Vandewalle, Mark; Wegge, Per

    2004-08-01

    Northern Botswana and adjacent areas, have the world's largest population of African elephant (Loxodonta africana). However, a 100 years ago elephants were rare following excessive hunting. Simultaneously, ungulate populations were severely reduced by decease. The ecological effects of the reduction in large herbivores must have been substantial, but are little known. Today, however, ecosystem changes following the increase in elephant numbers cause considerable concern in Botswana. This was the background for the "BONIC" project, investigating the interactions between the increasing elephant population and other ecosystem components and processes. Results confirm that the ecosystem is changing following the increase in elephant and ungulate populations, and, presumably, developing towards a situation resembling that before the reduction of large herbivores. We see no ecological reasons to artificially change elephant numbers. There are, however, economic and social reasons to control elephants, and their range in northern Botswana may have to be artificially restricted. PMID:15387059

  8. The return of the giants: ecological effects of an increasing elephant population.

    PubMed

    Skarpe, Christina; Aarrestad, Per Arild; Andreassen, Harry P; Dhillion, Shivcharn S; Dimakatso, Thatayaone; du Toit, Johan T; Duncan; Halley, J; Hytteborn, Håkan; Makhabu, Shimane; Mari, Moses; Marokane, Wilson; Masunga, Gaseitsiwe; Ditshoswane, Modise; Moe, Stein R; Mojaphoko, Rapelang; Mosugelo, David; Motsumi, Sekgowa; Neo-Mahupeleng, Gosiame; Ramotadima, Mpho; Rutina, Lucas; Sechele, Lettie; Sejoe, Thato B; Stokke, Sigbjørn; Swenson, Jon E; Taolo, Cyril; Vandewalle, Mark; Wegge, Per

    2004-08-01

    Northern Botswana and adjacent areas, have the world's largest population of African elephant (Loxodonta africana). However, a 100 years ago elephants were rare following excessive hunting. Simultaneously, ungulate populations were severely reduced by decease. The ecological effects of the reduction in large herbivores must have been substantial, but are little known. Today, however, ecosystem changes following the increase in elephant numbers cause considerable concern in Botswana. This was the background for the "BONIC" project, investigating the interactions between the increasing elephant population and other ecosystem components and processes. Results confirm that the ecosystem is changing following the increase in elephant and ungulate populations, and, presumably, developing towards a situation resembling that before the reduction of large herbivores. We see no ecological reasons to artificially change elephant numbers. There are, however, economic and social reasons to control elephants, and their range in northern Botswana may have to be artificially restricted.

  9. Self-thinning Concepts Applied to Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sea, W. B.; Hanan, N. P.

    2005-12-01

    scaling exponent remains invariant and corresponds favorably with results for African forests suggested by (Enquist and Niklas 2001). These findings are particularly important in addressing uncertainties in tree-grass interactions, where it appears that beyond a threshold tree size class, tree-grass interactions are largely the same. Potential impacts of soil characteristics and nutrient heterogeneity on self-thinning relationships are further hypothesized. Criticisms using self-thinning in savannas are addressed as well.

  10. Mammoth and elephant phylogenetic relationships: Mammut americanum, the missing outgroup.

    PubMed

    Orlando, Ludovic; Hänni, Catherine; Douady, Christophe J

    2007-01-01

    At the morphological level, the woolly mammoth has most often been considered as the sister-species of Asian elephants, but at the DNA level, different studies have found support for proximity with African elephants. Recent reports have increased the available sequence data and apparently solved the discrepancy, finding mammoths to be most closely related to Asian elephants. However, we demonstrate here that the three competing topologies have similar likelihood, bayesian and parsimony supports. The analysis further suggests the inadequacy of using Sirenia or Hyracoidea as outgroups. We therefore argue that orthologous sequences from the extinct American mastodon will be required to definitively solve this long-standing question. PMID:19430604

  11. Forensic species identification of elephant (Elephantidae) and giraffe (Giraffidae) tail hair using light microscopy.

    PubMed

    Yates, Bonnie C; Espinoza, Edgard O; Baker, Barry W

    2010-09-01

    Here we present methods for distinguishing tail hairs of African elephants (Loxodonta africana), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) from forensic contexts. Such hairs are commonly used to manufacture jewelry artifacts that are often sold illegally in the international wildlife trade. Tail hairs from these three species are easily confused macroscopically, and morphological methods for distinguishing African and Asian tail hairs have not been published. We used cross section analysis and light microscopy to analyze the tail hair morphology of 18 individual African elephants, 18 Asian elephants, and 40 giraffes. We found that cross-sectional shape, pigment placement, and pigment density are useful morphological features for distinguishing the three species. These observations provide wildlife forensic scientists with an important analytical tool for enforcing legislation and international treaties regulating the trade in elephant parts.

  12. Forensic species identification of elephant (Elephantidae) and giraffe (Giraffidae) tail hair using light microscopy.

    PubMed

    Yates, Bonnie C; Espinoza, Edgard O; Baker, Barry W

    2010-09-01

    Here we present methods for distinguishing tail hairs of African elephants (Loxodonta africana), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) from forensic contexts. Such hairs are commonly used to manufacture jewelry artifacts that are often sold illegally in the international wildlife trade. Tail hairs from these three species are easily confused macroscopically, and morphological methods for distinguishing African and Asian tail hairs have not been published. We used cross section analysis and light microscopy to analyze the tail hair morphology of 18 individual African elephants, 18 Asian elephants, and 40 giraffes. We found that cross-sectional shape, pigment placement, and pigment density are useful morphological features for distinguishing the three species. These observations provide wildlife forensic scientists with an important analytical tool for enforcing legislation and international treaties regulating the trade in elephant parts. PMID:20549391

  13. Cryptic herbivores mediate the strength and form of ungulate impacts on a long-lived savanna tree.

    PubMed

    Maclean, Janet E; Goheen, Jacob R; Doak, Daniel F; Palmer, Todd M; Young, Truman P

    2011-08-01

    Plant populations are regulated by a diverse array of herbivores that impose demographic filters throughout their life cycle. Few studies, however, simultaneously quantify the impacts of multiple herbivore guilds on the lifetime performance or population growth rate of plants. In African savannas, large ungulates (such as elephants) are widely regarded as important drivers of woody plant population dynamics, while the potential impacts of smaller, more cryptic herbivores (such as rodents) have largely been ignored. We combined a large-scale ungulate exclusion experiment with a five-year manipulation of rodent densities to quantify the impacts of three herbivore guilds (wild ungulates, domestic cattle, and rodents) on all life stages of a widespread savanna tree. We utilized demographic modeling to reveal the overall role of each guild in regulating tree population dynamics, and to elucidate the importance of different demographic hurdles in driving population growth under contrasting consumer communities. We found that wild ungulates dramatically reduced population growth, shifting the population trajectory from increase to decline, but that the mechanisms driving these effects were strongly mediated by rodents. The impact of wild ungulates on population growth was predominantly driven by their negative effect on tree reproduction when rodents were excluded, and on adult tree survival when rodents were present. By limiting seedling survival, rodents also reduced population growth; however, this effect was strongly dampened where wild ungulates were present. We suggest that these complex interactions between disparate consumer guilds can have important consequences for the population demography of long-lived species, and that the effects of a single consumer group are often likely to vary dramatically depending on the larger community in which interactions are embedded. PMID:21905429

  14. Cryptic herbivores mediate the strength and form of ungulate impacts on a long-lived savanna tree.

    PubMed

    Maclean, Janet E; Goheen, Jacob R; Doak, Daniel F; Palmer, Todd M; Young, Truman P

    2011-08-01

    Plant populations are regulated by a diverse array of herbivores that impose demographic filters throughout their life cycle. Few studies, however, simultaneously quantify the impacts of multiple herbivore guilds on the lifetime performance or population growth rate of plants. In African savannas, large ungulates (such as elephants) are widely regarded as important drivers of woody plant population dynamics, while the potential impacts of smaller, more cryptic herbivores (such as rodents) have largely been ignored. We combined a large-scale ungulate exclusion experiment with a five-year manipulation of rodent densities to quantify the impacts of three herbivore guilds (wild ungulates, domestic cattle, and rodents) on all life stages of a widespread savanna tree. We utilized demographic modeling to reveal the overall role of each guild in regulating tree population dynamics, and to elucidate the importance of different demographic hurdles in driving population growth under contrasting consumer communities. We found that wild ungulates dramatically reduced population growth, shifting the population trajectory from increase to decline, but that the mechanisms driving these effects were strongly mediated by rodents. The impact of wild ungulates on population growth was predominantly driven by their negative effect on tree reproduction when rodents were excluded, and on adult tree survival when rodents were present. By limiting seedling survival, rodents also reduced population growth; however, this effect was strongly dampened where wild ungulates were present. We suggest that these complex interactions between disparate consumer guilds can have important consequences for the population demography of long-lived species, and that the effects of a single consumer group are often likely to vary dramatically depending on the larger community in which interactions are embedded.

  15. Problem-elephant translocation: translocating the problem and the elephant?

    PubMed

    Fernando, Prithiviraj; Leimgruber, Peter; Prasad, Tharaka; Pastorini, Jennifer

    2012-01-01

    Human-elephant conflict (HEC) threatens the survival of endangered Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Translocating "problem-elephants" is an important HEC mitigation and elephant conservation strategy across elephant range, with hundreds translocated annually. In the first comprehensive assessment of elephant translocation, we monitored 16 translocations in Sri Lanka with GPS collars. All translocated elephants were released into national parks. Two were killed within the parks where they were released, while all the others left those parks. Translocated elephants showed variable responses: "homers" returned to the capture site, "wanderers" ranged widely, and "settlers" established home ranges in new areas soon after release. Translocation caused wider propagation and intensification of HEC, and increased elephant mortality. We conclude that translocation defeats both HEC mitigation and elephant conservation goals.

  16. Nutrient limitation in tropical savannas across multiple scales and mechanisms.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A

    2016-02-01

    Nutrients have been hypothesized to influence the distribution of the savanna biome through two possible mechanisms. Low nutrient availability may restrict growth rates of trees, thereby allowing for intermittent fires to maintain low tree cover; alternatively, nutrient deficiency may even place an absolute constraint on the ability of forests to form, independent of fire. However, we have little understanding of the scales at which nutrient limitation operates, what nutrients are limiting, and the mechanisms that influence how nutrient limitation regulates savanna-forest transitions. Here, I review literature, synthesize existing data, and present a simple calculation of nutrient demand to evaluate how nutrient limitation may regulate the distribution of the savanna biome. The literature primarily supports the hypothesis that nutrients may interact dynamically with fire to restrict the transition of savanna into forest. A compilation of indirect metrics of nutrient limitation suggest that nitrogen and phosphorus are both in short supply and may limit plants. Nutrient demand calculations provided a number of insights. First, trees required high rates of nitrogen and phosphorus supply relative to empirically determined inputs. Second, nutrient demand increased as landscapes approached the transition point between savanna and forest. Third, the potential for fire-driven nutrient losses remained high throughout transitions, which may exaggerate limitation and could be a key feedback stabilizing the savanna biome. Fourth, nutrient limitation varied between functional groups, with fast-growing forest species having substantially greater nutrient demand and a higher susceptibility to fire-driven nutrient losses. Finally, African savanna trees required substantially larger amounts of nutrients supplied at greater rates, although this varied across plant functional groups. In summary, the ability of nutrients to control transitions emerges at individual and landscape

  17. Nutrient limitation in tropical savannas across multiple scales and mechanisms.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A

    2016-02-01

    Nutrients have been hypothesized to influence the distribution of the savanna biome through two possible mechanisms. Low nutrient availability may restrict growth rates of trees, thereby allowing for intermittent fires to maintain low tree cover; alternatively, nutrient deficiency may even place an absolute constraint on the ability of forests to form, independent of fire. However, we have little understanding of the scales at which nutrient limitation operates, what nutrients are limiting, and the mechanisms that influence how nutrient limitation regulates savanna-forest transitions. Here, I review literature, synthesize existing data, and present a simple calculation of nutrient demand to evaluate how nutrient limitation may regulate the distribution of the savanna biome. The literature primarily supports the hypothesis that nutrients may interact dynamically with fire to restrict the transition of savanna into forest. A compilation of indirect metrics of nutrient limitation suggest that nitrogen and phosphorus are both in short supply and may limit plants. Nutrient demand calculations provided a number of insights. First, trees required high rates of nitrogen and phosphorus supply relative to empirically determined inputs. Second, nutrient demand increased as landscapes approached the transition point between savanna and forest. Third, the potential for fire-driven nutrient losses remained high throughout transitions, which may exaggerate limitation and could be a key feedback stabilizing the savanna biome. Fourth, nutrient limitation varied between functional groups, with fast-growing forest species having substantially greater nutrient demand and a higher susceptibility to fire-driven nutrient losses. Finally, African savanna trees required substantially larger amounts of nutrients supplied at greater rates, although this varied across plant functional groups. In summary, the ability of nutrients to control transitions emerges at individual and landscape

  18. Contributions of woody and herbaceous vegetation to tropical savanna ecosystem productivity: a quasi-global estimate.

    PubMed

    Lloyd, Jon; Bird, Michael I; Vellen, Lins; Miranda, Antonio Carlos; Veenendaal, Elmar M; Djagbletey, Gloria; Miranda, Heloisa S; Cook, Garry; Farquhar, Graham D

    2008-03-01

    To estimate the relative contributions of woody and herbaceous vegetation to savanna productivity, we measured the 13C/12C isotopic ratios of leaves from trees, shrubs, grasses and the surface soil carbon pool for 22 savannas in Australia, Brazil and Ghana covering the full savanna spectrum ranging from almost pure grassland to closed woodlands on all three continents. All trees and shrubs sampled were of the C3 pathway and all grasses of the C4 pathway with the exception of Echinolaena inflexa (Poir.) Chase, a common C3 grass of the Brazilian cerrado. By comparing the carbon isotopic compositions of the plant and carbon pools, a simple model relating soil delta 13C to the relative abundances of trees + shrubs (woody plants) and grasses was developed. The model suggests that the relative proportions of a savanna ecosystem's total foliar projected cover attributable to grasses versus woody plants is a simple and reliable index of the relative contributions of grasses and woody plants to savanna net productivity. Model calibrations against woody tree canopy cover made it possible to estimate the proportion of savanna productivity in the major regions of the world attributable to trees + shrubs and grasses from ground-based observational maps of savanna woodiness. Overall, it was estimated that 59% of the net primary productivity (Np) of tropical savannas is attributable to C4 grasses, but that this proportion varies significantly within and between regions. The C4 grasses make their greatest relative contribution to savanna Np in the Neotropics, whereas in African regions, a greater proportion of savanna Np is attributable to woody plants. The relative contribution of C4 grasses in Australian savannas is intermediate between those in the Neotropics and Africa. These differences can be broadly ascribed to large scale differences in soil fertility and rainfall. PMID:18171668

  19. Comparative reproductive biology of elephants.

    PubMed

    Brown, Janine L

    2014-01-01

    The ability to serially collect blood samples and conduct ultrasound examinations in Asian and African elephants has provided unique opportunities to study the biology of these endangered species. As a result, many unique aspects of elephant reproduction have been identified. For females, there are interesting differences in luteal steroidogenic activity, follicular maturation, pituitary gonadotropin secretion, fetal development and reproductive tract anatomy, while males exhibit the unique phenomenon of musth and an unusual reproductive anatomy (internal testes, ampullary semen storage). However, problems associated with uterine and ovarian pathologies hamper captive propagation efforts. Older, nulliparous cows are particularly susceptible, leading to speculation that continuous ovarian cyclicity of non-bred females in zoos is having a negative and cumulative effect on reproductive health. There are notable species differences in reproductive mechanisms as well (e.g., ovarian acyclicity, prolactin secretion, sperm cryosensitivity), implying that species-specific approaches to management and application of assisted reproductive techniques are needed for maximal reproductive efficiency and enhancement of genetic management.

  20. Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa

    PubMed Central

    Blake, Stephen; Wittemyer, George; Hart, John; Williamson, Elizabeth A.; Aba’a, Rostand; Abitsi, Gaspard; Ambahe, Ruffin D.; Amsini, Fidèl; Bakabana, Parfait C.; Hicks, Thurston Cleveland; Bayogo, Rosine E.; Bechem, Martha; Beyers, Rene L.; Bezangoye, Anicet N.; Boundja, Patrick; Bout, Nicolas; Akou, Marc Ella; Bene, Lambert Bene; Fosso, Bernard; Greengrass, Elizabeth; Grossmann, Falk; Ikamba-Nkulu, Clement; Ilambu, Omari; Inogwabini, Bila-Isia; Iyenguet, Fortune; Kiminou, Franck; Kokangoye, Max; Kujirakwinja, Deo; Latour, Stephanie; Liengola, Innocent; Mackaya, Quevain; Madidi, Jacob; Madzoke, Bola; Makoumbou, Calixte; Malanda, Guy-Aimé; Malonga, Richard; Mbani, Olivier; Mbendzo, Valentin A.; Ambassa, Edgar; Ekinde, Albert; Mihindou, Yves; Morgan, Bethan J.; Motsaba, Prosper; Moukala, Gabin; Mounguengui, Anselme; Mowawa, Brice S.; Ndzai, Christian; Nixon, Stuart; Nkumu, Pele; Nzolani, Fabian; Pintea, Lilian; Plumptre, Andrew; Rainey, Hugo; de Semboli, Bruno Bokoto; Serckx, Adeline; Stokes, Emma; Turkalo, Andrea; Vanleeuwe, Hilde; Vosper, Ashley; Warren, Ymke

    2013-01-01

    African forest elephants– taxonomically and functionally unique–are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002–2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced. PMID:23469289

  1. Elevated elephant density does not improve ecotourism opportunities: convergence in social and ecological objectives.

    PubMed

    Maciejewski, Kristine; Kerley, Graham I H

    2014-07-01

    In order to sustainably conserve biodiversity, many protected areas, particularly private protected areas, must find means of self-financing. Ecotourism is increasingly seen as a mechanism to achieve such financial sustainability. However, there is concern that ecotourism operations are driven to achieve successful game-viewing, influencing the management of charismatic species. An abundance of such species, including the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), has been stocked in protected areas under the assumption that they will increase ecotourism value. At moderate to high densities, the impact of elephants is costly; numerous studies have documented severe changes in biodiversity through the impacts of elephants. Protected areas that focus on maintaining high numbers of elephants may therefore face a conflict between socioeconomic demands and the capacity of ecological systems. We address this conflict by analyzing tourist elephant-sighting records from six private and one statutory protected area, the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, in relation to elephant numbers. We found no relationship between elephant density and elephant-viewing success. Even though elephant density in the AENP increased over time, a hierarchical partitioning analysis indicated that elephant density was not a driver of tourist numbers. In contrast, annual tourist numbers for the AENP were positively correlated with general tourist numbers recorded for South Africa. Our results indicate that the socioeconomic and ecological requirements of protected areas in terms of tourism and elephants, respectively, converge. Thus, high elephant densities and their associated ecological costs are not required to support ecotourism operations for financial sustainability. Understanding the social and ecological feedbacks that dominate the dynamics of protected areas, particularly within private protected areas, can help to elucidate the management

  2. Elevated elephant density does not improve ecotourism opportunities: convergence in social and ecological objectives.

    PubMed

    Maciejewski, Kristine; Kerley, Graham I H

    2014-07-01

    In order to sustainably conserve biodiversity, many protected areas, particularly private protected areas, must find means of self-financing. Ecotourism is increasingly seen as a mechanism to achieve such financial sustainability. However, there is concern that ecotourism operations are driven to achieve successful game-viewing, influencing the management of charismatic species. An abundance of such species, including the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), has been stocked in protected areas under the assumption that they will increase ecotourism value. At moderate to high densities, the impact of elephants is costly; numerous studies have documented severe changes in biodiversity through the impacts of elephants. Protected areas that focus on maintaining high numbers of elephants may therefore face a conflict between socioeconomic demands and the capacity of ecological systems. We address this conflict by analyzing tourist elephant-sighting records from six private and one statutory protected area, the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, in relation to elephant numbers. We found no relationship between elephant density and elephant-viewing success. Even though elephant density in the AENP increased over time, a hierarchical partitioning analysis indicated that elephant density was not a driver of tourist numbers. In contrast, annual tourist numbers for the AENP were positively correlated with general tourist numbers recorded for South Africa. Our results indicate that the socioeconomic and ecological requirements of protected areas in terms of tourism and elephants, respectively, converge. Thus, high elephant densities and their associated ecological costs are not required to support ecotourism operations for financial sustainability. Understanding the social and ecological feedbacks that dominate the dynamics of protected areas, particularly within private protected areas, can help to elucidate the management

  3. Molecular Characterization of Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines Interleukin-1β and Interleukin-8 in Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Swami, Shelesh Kumar; Vijay, Anushri; Nagarajan, Govindasamy; Kaur, Ramneek; Srivastava, Meera

    2016-01-01

    Interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-8 are pro-inflammatory cytokines produced primarily by monocytes and macrophages in response to a variety of microbial and nonmicrobial agents. As yet, no molecular data have been reported for IL-1β and IL-8 of the Asian elephant. In the present study, we have cloned and sequenced the cDNA encoding IL-1β and IL-8 of the Asian elephant. The open reading frame (ORF) of Asian elephant IL-1β is 789 bp in length, encoded a propeptide of 263 amino acid polypeptide. The predicted protein revealed the presence of IL-1 family signature motif and an ICE cut site. Whereas, IL-8 contained 321 bp of open reading frame. Interestingly, the predicted protein sequence of 106 aa, contains an ELR motif immediately upstream of the CQC residues, common in all vertebrate IL-8 molecules. Identity levels of the nucleic acid and deduced amino acid sequences of Asian elephant IL-1β ranged from 68.48 (Squirrel monkey) to 98.57% (African elephant), and 57.78 (Sheep) to 98.47% (African elephant), respectively, whereas that of IL-8 ranged from 72.9% (Human) to 87.8% (African elephant), and 63.2 (human, gorilla, chimpanzee) to 74.5% (African elephant, buffalo), respectively. The phylogenetic analysis based on deduced amino acid sequenced showed that the Asian elephant IL-1β and IL-8 were most closely related to African elephant. Molecular characterization of these two cytokines, IL-1β and IL-8, in Asian elephant provides fundamental information necessary to progress the study of functional immune responses in this animal and gives the potential to use them to manipulate the immune response as recombinant proteins.

  4. Molecular Characterization of Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines Interleukin-1β and Interleukin-8 in Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Swami, Shelesh Kumar; Vijay, Anushri; Nagarajan, Govindasamy; Kaur, Ramneek; Srivastava, Meera

    2016-01-01

    Interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-8 are pro-inflammatory cytokines produced primarily by monocytes and macrophages in response to a variety of microbial and nonmicrobial agents. As yet, no molecular data have been reported for IL-1β and IL-8 of the Asian elephant. In the present study, we have cloned and sequenced the cDNA encoding IL-1β and IL-8 of the Asian elephant. The open reading frame (ORF) of Asian elephant IL-1β is 789 bp in length, encoded a propeptide of 263 amino acid polypeptide. The predicted protein revealed the presence of IL-1 family signature motif and an ICE cut site. Whereas, IL-8 contained 321 bp of open reading frame. Interestingly, the predicted protein sequence of 106 aa, contains an ELR motif immediately upstream of the CQC residues, common in all vertebrate IL-8 molecules. Identity levels of the nucleic acid and deduced amino acid sequences of Asian elephant IL-1β ranged from 68.48 (Squirrel monkey) to 98.57% (African elephant), and 57.78 (Sheep) to 98.47% (African elephant), respectively, whereas that of IL-8 ranged from 72.9% (Human) to 87.8% (African elephant), and 63.2 (human, gorilla, chimpanzee) to 74.5% (African elephant, buffalo), respectively. The phylogenetic analysis based on deduced amino acid sequenced showed that the Asian elephant IL-1β and IL-8 were most closely related to African elephant. Molecular characterization of these two cytokines, IL-1β and IL-8, in Asian elephant provides fundamental information necessary to progress the study of functional immune responses in this animal and gives the potential to use them to manipulate the immune response as recombinant proteins. PMID:26849252

  5. Complex vibratory patterns in an elephant larynx.

    PubMed

    Herbst, Christian T; Svec, Jan G; Lohscheller, Jörg; Frey, Roland; Gumpenberger, Michaela; Stoeger, Angela S; Fitch, W Tecumseh

    2013-11-01

    Elephants' low-frequency vocalizations are produced by flow-induced self-sustaining oscillations of laryngeal tissue. To date, little is known in detail about the vibratory phenomena in the elephant larynx. Here, we provide a first descriptive report of the complex oscillatory features found in the excised larynx of a 25 year old female African elephant (Loxodonta africana), the largest animal sound generator ever studied experimentally. Sound production was documented with high-speed video, acoustic measurements, air flow and sound pressure level recordings. The anatomy of the larynx was studied with computed tomography (CT) and dissections. Elephant CT vocal anatomy data were further compared with the anatomy of an adult human male. We observed numerous unusual phenomena, not typically reported in human vocal fold vibrations. Phase delays along both the inferior-superior and anterior-posterior (A-P) dimension were commonly observed, as well as transverse travelling wave patterns along the A-P dimension, previously not documented in the literature. Acoustic energy was mainly created during the instant of glottal opening. The vestibular folds, when adducted, participated in tissue vibration, effectively increasing the generated sound pressure level by 12 dB. The complexity of the observed phenomena is partly attributed to the distinct laryngeal anatomy of the elephant larynx, which is not simply a large-scale version of its human counterpart. Travelling waves may be facilitated by low fundamental frequencies and increased vocal fold tension. A travelling wave model is proposed, to account for three types of phenomena: A-P travelling waves, 'conventional' standing wave patterns, and irregular vocal fold vibration.

  6. Risk and Ethical Concerns of Hunting Male Elephant: Behavioural and Physiological Assays of the Remaining Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Burke, Tarryne; Page, Bruce; Van Dyk, Gus; Millspaugh, Josh; Slotow, Rob

    2008-01-01

    Background Hunting of male African elephants may pose ethical and risk concerns, particularly given their status as a charismatic species of high touristic value, yet which are capable of both killing people and damaging infrastructure. Methodology/Principal Findings We quantified the effect of hunts of male elephants on (1) risk of attack or damage (11 hunts), and (2) behavioural (movement dynamics) and physiological (stress hormone metabolite concentrations) responses (4 hunts) in Pilanesberg National Park. For eleven hunts, there were no subsequent attacks on people or infrastructure, and elephants did not break out of the fenced reserve. For three focal hunts, there was an initial flight response by bulls present at the hunting site, but their movements stabilised the day after the hunt event. Animals not present at the hunt (both bulls and herds) did not show movement responses. Physiologically, hunting elephant bulls increased faecal stress hormone levels (corticosterone metabolites) in both those bulls that were present at the hunts (for up to four days post-hunt) and in the broader bull and breeding herd population (for up to one month post-hunt). Conclusions/Significance As all responses were relatively minor, hunting male elephants is ethically acceptable when considering effects on the remaining elephant population; however bulls should be hunted when alone. Hunting is feasible in relatively small enclosed reserves without major risk of attack, damage, or breakout. Physiological stress assays were more effective than behavioural responses in detecting effects of human intervention. Similar studies should evaluate intervention consequences, inform and improve best practice, and should be widely applied by management agencies. PMID:18560517

  7. Elephant behaviour and conservation: social relationships, the effects of poaching, and genetic tools for management.

    PubMed

    Archie, Elizabeth A; Chiyo, Patrick I

    2012-02-01

    Genetic tools are increasingly valuable for understanding the behaviour, evolution, and conservation of social species. In African elephants, for instance, genetic data provide basic information on the population genetic causes and consequences of social behaviour, and how human activities alter elephants' social and genetic structures. As such, African elephants provide a useful case study to understand the relationships between social behaviour and population genetic structure in a conservation framework. Here, we review three areas where genetic methods have made important contributions to elephant behavioural ecology and conservation: (1) understanding kin-based relationships in females and the effects of poaching on the adaptive value of elephant relationships, (2) understanding patterns of paternity in elephants and how poaching can alter these patterns, and (3) conservation genetic tools to census elusive populations, track ivory, and understand the behavioural ecology of crop-raiding. By comparing studies from populations that have experienced a range of poaching intensities, we find that human activities have a large effect on elephant behaviour and genetic structure. Poaching disrupts kin-based association patterns, decreases the quality of elephant social relationships, and increases male reproductive skew, with important consequences for population health and the maintenance of genetic diversity. In addition, we find that genetic tools to census populations or gather forensic information are almost always more accurate than non-genetic alternatives. These results contribute to a growing understanding of poaching on animal behaviour, and how genetic tools can be used to understand and conserve social species.

  8. Elephant behaviour and conservation: social relationships, the effects of poaching, and genetic tools for management.

    PubMed

    Archie, Elizabeth A; Chiyo, Patrick I

    2012-02-01

    Genetic tools are increasingly valuable for understanding the behaviour, evolution, and conservation of social species. In African elephants, for instance, genetic data provide basic information on the population genetic causes and consequences of social behaviour, and how human activities alter elephants' social and genetic structures. As such, African elephants provide a useful case study to understand the relationships between social behaviour and population genetic structure in a conservation framework. Here, we review three areas where genetic methods have made important contributions to elephant behavioural ecology and conservation: (1) understanding kin-based relationships in females and the effects of poaching on the adaptive value of elephant relationships, (2) understanding patterns of paternity in elephants and how poaching can alter these patterns, and (3) conservation genetic tools to census elusive populations, track ivory, and understand the behavioural ecology of crop-raiding. By comparing studies from populations that have experienced a range of poaching intensities, we find that human activities have a large effect on elephant behaviour and genetic structure. Poaching disrupts kin-based association patterns, decreases the quality of elephant social relationships, and increases male reproductive skew, with important consequences for population health and the maintenance of genetic diversity. In addition, we find that genetic tools to census populations or gather forensic information are almost always more accurate than non-genetic alternatives. These results contribute to a growing understanding of poaching on animal behaviour, and how genetic tools can be used to understand and conserve social species. PMID:21880086

  9. Wild Asian elephants distinguish aggressive tiger and leopard growls according to perceived danger.

    PubMed

    Thuppil, Vivek; Coss, Richard G

    2013-10-23

    Prey species exhibit antipredator behaviours such as alertness, aggression and flight, among others, in response to predators. The nature of this response is variable, with animals reacting more strongly in situations of increased vulnerability. Our research described here is the first formal study to investigate night-time antipredator behaviour in any species of elephants, Asian or African. We examined the provocative effects of elephant-triggered tiger and leopard growls while elephants attempted to crop-raid. Tigers opportunistically prey on elephant calves, whereas leopards pose no threat; therefore, we predicted that the elephant response would be reflective of this difference. Elephants reacted similarly cautiously to the simulated presence of felids of both species by eventually moving away, but differed markedly in their more immediate behavioural responses. Elephants retreated silently to tiger-growl playbacks, whereas they responded with aggressive vocalizations, such as trumpets and grunts, to leopard-growl playbacks. Elephants also lingered in the area and displayed alert or investigative behaviours in response to leopard growls when compared with tiger growls. We anticipate that the methods outlined here will promote further study of elephant antipredator behaviour in a naturalistic context, with applications for conservation efforts as well.

  10. Putting the elephant back in the herd: elephant relative quantity judgments match those of other species.

    PubMed

    Perdue, Bonnie M; Talbot, Catherine F; Stone, Adam M; Beran, Michael J

    2012-09-01

    The ability to discriminate between quantities has been observed in many species. Typically, when an animal is given a choice between two sets of food, accurate performance (i.e., choosing the larger amount) decreases as the ratio between two quantities increases. A recent study reported that elephants did not exhibit ratio effects, suggesting that elephants may process quantitative information in a qualitatively different way from all other nonhuman species that have been tested (Irie-Sugimoto et al. in Anim Cogn 12:193-199, 2009). However, the results of this study were confounded by several methodological issues. We tested two African elephants (Loxodonta africana) to more thoroughly investigate relative quantity judgment in this species. In contrast to the previous study, we found evidence of ratio effects for visible and nonvisible sequentially presented sets of food. Thus, elephants appear to represent and compare quantities in much the same way as other species, including humans when they are prevented from counting. Performance supports an accumulator model in which quantities are represented as analog magnitudes. Furthermore, we found no effect of absolute magnitude on performance, providing support against an object-file model explanation of quantity judgment. PMID:22692435

  11. Vegetation-climate feedbacks in the conversion of tropical savanna to grassland

    SciTech Connect

    Hoffmann, W.A.; Jackson, R.B.

    2000-05-01

    Tropical savannas have been heavily impacted by human activity, with large expanses transformed from a mixture of trees and grasses to open grassland and agriculture. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) CCM3 general circulation model, coupled with the NCAR Land Surface Model, was used to simulate the effects of this conversion on regional climate. Conversion of savanna to grassland reduced precipitation by approximately 10% in four of the five savanna regions under study; only the northern African savannas showed no significant decline. Associated with this decline was an increase in the frequency of dry periods within the wet season, a change that could be particularly damaging to shallow-rooted crops. The overall decline in precipitation is almost equally attributable to changes in albedo and roughness length. Conversion to grassland increased mean surface air temperature of all the regions by 0.5 C, primarily because of reductions in surface roughness length. Rooting depth, which decreases dramatically with the conversion of savanna to grassland, contributed little to the overall effect of savanna conversion, but deeper rooting had a small positive effect on latent heat flux with a corresponding reduction in sensible heat flux. The authors propose that the interdependence of climate and vegetation in these regions is manifested as a positive feedback loop in which anthropogenic impacts on savanna vegetation are exacerbated by declines in precipitation.

  12. Are the long-term effects of mesobrowsers on woodland dynamics substitutive or additive to those of elephants?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Kane, Christopher A. J.; Duffy, Kevin J.; Page, Bruce R.; Macdonald, David W.

    2011-09-01

    The large spectrum of existing literature on browser-woodland dynamics, both from savanna and temperate biomes, converges towards concluding that all browsers importantly impact woody plants. In this context a crucial question in the current debate about reintroducing elephant culling, is whether the long-term effects of elephants and mesobrowsers are similar. If the two groups impact the same woody species in the same habitats, sufficiently high biomass-densities of mesobrowsers may, following removal of elephants, continue to heavily impact earlier life-history stages of the same suite of woody plants that elephant impacted, preventing these species from maturing. Thus, as existing mature trees die from natural causes and fade from the system, a similar end-point for woodland structure and composition is achieved. We reviewed 49 years of literature on the savanna browser guild, performing a meta-analysis on the disparate data on the guild's woody plant species use (3677 records) and habitat use (894 records). Mesobrowsers' and elephants' extensive overlap in habitat use and staple woody species diet, together with evidence of their influencing each others' abundance and of their dietary separation increasing with resource depletion, implies that the two groups impact the same core woody species in the same habitats. It therefore seems probable that high biomass-density mesobrowsers may have a long-term substitutive effect to that of elephant on woodland dynamics. Consequently management wanting a particular state of savanna woodland, should consider the biomass-density of both groups, rather than just focus on the system's perceived keystone species. Such principles may also apply to temperate and other systems.

  13. Savanna domain in the herbivores-fire parameter space exploiting a tree-grass-soil water dynamic model.

    PubMed

    De Michele, C; Accatino, F; Vezzoli, R; Scholes, R J

    2011-11-21

    The tree-grass co-existence in savannas involves multiple and sometimes connected biogeophysical conditions. The savanna domain, its boundaries, and transitions (gradual or abrupt) to other vegetation types (i.e., grassland or forest) are fundamental for the management of ecosystems and for preserving the biodiversity in present conditions and in future changing scenarios. Here we investigate the savanna domain within grazers-fire and browsers-fire parameter planes through a simple ecohydrological model of tree-grass-soil water dynamics. Stability maps allow to identify savanna domains and to show the behavior of vegetation under increasing pressure of grazing and browsing. Stability maps shed light on the causes behind possible vegetation abrupt transitions (e.g., forest collapse and bush encroachment). An application to 15 African savannas sites is presented and discussed with the support of a local sensitivity analysis of the model's parameters. PMID:21875600

  14. Germany/Australia index of sperm sex sortability in elephants and rhinoceros.

    PubMed

    Behr, B; Rath, D; Hildebrandt, T B; Goeritz, F; Blottner, S; Portas, T J; Bryant, B R; Sieg, B; Knieriem, A; de Graaf, S P; Maxwell, W M C; Hermes, R

    2009-04-01

    Flow cytometric sexing of spermatozoa followed by application in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization provides a unique opportunity to predetermine the sex of offspring and might enhance the conservation management of endangered species in captivity such as the elephant and rhinoceros. To obtain an indication of the sortability of spermatozoa from these species, the relative DNA differences between X and Y chromosome bearing spermatozoa (fresh, frozen thawed, epididymal) from three rhinoceros species [white (Ceratotherium simum), black (Diceros bicornis), Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis)] and both elephant species, the Asian and the African elephant (Elephas maximus, Loxodonta Africana), were determined through separation of spermatozoa into X and Y chromosome bearing populations, using a modified high speed flow cytometer. The head profile areas of spermatozoa from all five species were measured using light microscopy. By multiplying the relative DNA differences and the head profile areas, the sperm sorting indices were calculated to be 47, 48 and 51 for white, black and Indian rhinoceros respectively. The calculated sorting index for the Asian elephant was 66. In the African elephant, we determined the highest sorting index of 76. These results indicate the practicability of flow cytometric sex sorting of spermatozoa from the tested rhinoceros species and both elephant species. The lower sorting indices in rhinos indicate that sex sorting of spermatozoa from the rhinoceros will be more challenging than in elephants.

  15. CONSERVATION. Genetic assignment of large seizures of elephant ivory reveals Africa's major poaching hotspots.

    PubMed

    Wasser, S K; Brown, L; Mailand, C; Mondol, S; Clark, W; Laurie, C; Weir, B S

    2015-07-01

    Poaching of elephants is now occurring at rates that threaten African populations with extinction. Identifying the number and location of Africa's major poaching hotspots may assist efforts to end poaching and facilitate recovery of elephant populations. We genetically assign origin to 28 large ivory seizures (≥0.5 metric tons) made between 1996 and 2014, also testing assignment accuracy. Results suggest that the major poaching hotspots in Africa may be currently concentrated in as few as two areas. Increasing law enforcement in these two hotspots could help curtail future elephant losses across Africa and disrupt this organized transnational crime. PMID:26089357

  16. CONSERVATION. Genetic assignment of large seizures of elephant ivory reveals Africa's major poaching hotspots.

    PubMed

    Wasser, S K; Brown, L; Mailand, C; Mondol, S; Clark, W; Laurie, C; Weir, B S

    2015-07-01

    Poaching of elephants is now occurring at rates that threaten African populations with extinction. Identifying the number and location of Africa's major poaching hotspots may assist efforts to end poaching and facilitate recovery of elephant populations. We genetically assign origin to 28 large ivory seizures (≥0.5 metric tons) made between 1996 and 2014, also testing assignment accuracy. Results suggest that the major poaching hotspots in Africa may be currently concentrated in as few as two areas. Increasing law enforcement in these two hotspots could help curtail future elephant losses across Africa and disrupt this organized transnational crime.

  17. Liquid semen storage in elephants (Elephas maximus and Loxodonta africana): species differences and storage optimization.

    PubMed

    Kiso, Wendy K; Brown, Janine L; Siewerdt, Frank; Schmitt, Dennis L; Olson, Deborah; Crichton, Elizabeth G; Pukazhenthi, Budhan S

    2011-01-01

    Artificial insemination plays a key role in the genetic management of elephants in zoos. Because freshly extended semen is typically used for artificial insemination in elephants, it has become imperative to optimize conditions for liquid storage and semen transport. The objectives of this study were to examine the interactions between different extenders and storage temperatures on sperm total motility, progressive motility, and acrosomal integrity in Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants. Ejaculates were collected by rectal massage, diluted using a split-sample technique in 5 semen extenders: TL-Hepes (HEP), Modena (MOD), Biladyl (BIL), TEST refrigeration medium (TES), and INRA96 (INR), maintained at 35°C, 22°C, or 4°C. At 0, 4, 6, 12, and 24 hours, aliquots were removed and assessed for sperm total motility, progressive motility, and acrosomal integrity. After 24 hours of storage, African elephant spermatozoa exhibited greater longevity and higher values in sperm quality parameters compared with those of Asian elephants. In both species, semen storage at 35°C resulted in a sharp decline in all sperm quality parameters after 4 hours of storage, whereas storage at 22°C and 4°C facilitated sperm survival. In Asian elephants, MOD and HEP were most detrimental, whereas BIL, TES, and INR maintained motility up to 12 hours when spermatozoa were cooled to 22°Cor4°C. In African elephants, there were no differences among extenders. All media maintained good sperm quality parameters at 22°C or 4°C. However, although MOD, BIL, and INR were most effective at lower temperatures, HEP and TES maintained sperm motility at all storage temperatures. This study demonstrated sperm sensitivity to components of various semen extenders and storage temperatures and offers recommendations for semen extender choices for liquid semen storage for both Asian and African elephants.

  18. Elephant impact on shoot distribution on trees and on rebrowsing by smaller browsers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Makhabu, Shimane W.; Skarpe, Christina; Hytteborn, Håkan

    2006-09-01

    In order to determine the effects of a megaherbivore, the African elephant ( Loxodonta africana) on browse available for mesoherbivores, we assessed the vertical distribution of shoots (< 6 mm in diameter) on trees with different accumulated elephant impact. We also determined the foraging responses by a mixed feeder, impala ( Aepyceros melampus) and a browser, greater kudu ( Tragelaphus strepsiceros) which are mesoherbivores. The foraging responses by impala and kudu were in terms of preferences of trees with different accumulated elephant impact levels and whether animals browsed in different height sections in proportion to availability of shoots. We counted shoots in each 20 cm height section up to 2.6 m on trees in 25 m by 25 m plots and on trees observed to be browsed by impala and kudu. In most tree species, individuals with high accumulated elephant impact were shorter and had more shoots at low levels than tree individuals with either low or no accumulated elephant impact. Impala and kudu preferred to browse tree individuals with accumulated elephant impact over those without such impact. Impala and kudu browsed more than expected at height sections with many shoots and less than expected at height sections with fewer shoots indicating a non-linear overmatching foraging response. We suggest that increased shoot abundance at low levels in the canopy might explain part of the observed preferences. Elephants, therefore, seem to facilitate browsing by mesoherbivores by generating 'browsing lawns'. Such benefits need to be considered when making decisions on how to manage populations of megaherbivores like elephant.

  19. Are cattle surrogate wildlife? Savanna plant community composition explained by total herbivory, not herbivore identity

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The replacement of wild ungulate herbivores by domestic livestock in African savannas is composed of two interrelated phenomena: 1) loss or reduction in numbers of individual wildlife species or guilds, and 2) addition of livestock to the system. Yet very few studies have addressed the individual, c...

  20. Detection and Evaluation of Novel Herpesviruses in Routine and Pathological Samples from Asian and African Elephants: Identification of Two New Probosciviruses (EEHV5 and EEHV6) and Two New Gammaherpesviruses (EGHV3B and EGHV5)

    PubMed Central

    Latimer, Erin; Zong, Jian-Chao; Heaggans, Sarah Y.; Richman, Laura K.; Hayward, Gary S.

    2010-01-01

    Systemic infections with Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses (EEHV) cause a rapid onset acute hemorrhagic disease with an 85% mortality rate. More than 60 cases have been confirmed worldwide occurring predominantly in juvenile Asian elephants. Originally, three virus types EEHV1A, EEHV1B and EEHV2 were identified, all members of the Proboscivirus genus within the Betaherpesvirinae. However, four elephant gammaherpesviruses (EGHV) have also been found by DNA PCR approaches in eye and genital secretions of asymptomatic animals, and two more versions of the Probosciviruses, EEHV3 and EEHV4, were recently detected in acute hemorrhagic disease cases. To ask whether even more species of elephant herpesviruses may exist, we have developed several new diagnostic DNA PCR assays using multiple round primers in the DNA POL region. These have been used routinely for nearly three years to screen samples submitted to the Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory for diagnosis of possible cases of EEHV disease in blood and necropsy tissue, as well as in biopsies of other suspicious lesions or growths. Several more cases of EEHV1-associated hemorrhagic disease were confirmed, but in addition, we describe here eleven examples of other known and novel herpesviruses detected and evaluated with these reagents. They include the prototypes of four new elephant herpesviruses, two more within the Proboscivirus group EEHV5 and EEHV6, plus two more gammaherpesviruses EGHV3B and EGHV5. We also report initial semi-quantitative PCR assays demonstrating very high viral loads in the blood of the EEHV3 and EEHV4-associated hemorrhagic disease cases. PMID:20579821

  1. Immunogenetics of the Elephant Seal

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Garza, John Carlos

    1999-01-01

    The goals of this cooperative agreement fall into three categories: 1) A basic description of Immunogenetic variation in the northern elephant seal genome; 2) A basic genetic map of the northern elephant seal genome; 3). Microevolutionary forces in the northern elephant seal genome. The results described in this report were acquired using funds from this cooperative agreement together with funds from a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant.

  2. Deciphering the distribution of the savanna biome.

    PubMed

    Lehmann, Caroline E R; Archibald, Sally A; Hoffmann, William A; Bond, William J

    2011-07-01

    • We aimed to identify the limits of savanna across Africa, Australia and South America. We based our investigation on the rich history of hypotheses previously examined: that the limits of savanna are variously determined by rainfall, rainfall seasonality, soil fertility and disturbance. • We categorized vegetation on all continents as 'savanna' (open habitats with a C(4) grass layer) or 'not-savanna' (closed habitats with no C(4) grass layer) and used a combination of statistical approaches to examine how the presence of savanna varied as a function of five environmental correlates. • The presence of savanna is constrained by effective rainfall and rainfall seasonality. Soil fertility is regionally important, although the direction of its effect changes relative to rainfall. We identified three continental divergences in the limits of savanna that could not be explained by environment. • Climate and soils do not have a deterministic effect on the distribution of savanna. Over the range of savanna, some proportion of the land is always 'not-savanna'. We reconciled previous contradictory views of savanna limits by developing a new conceptual framework for understanding these limits by categorizing environmental factors into whether they had a positive or negative effect on woody growth and the frequency of disturbance.

  3. Elephant Management in North American Zoos: Environmental Enrichment, Feeding, Exercise, and Training.

    PubMed

    Greco, Brian J; Meehan, Cheryl L; Miller, Lance J; Shepherdson, David J; Morfeld, Kari A; Andrews, Jeff; Baker, Anne M; Carlstead, Kathy; Mench, Joy A

    2016-01-01

    The management of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants in zoos involves a range of practices including feeding, exercise, training, and environmental enrichment. These practices are necessary to meet the elephants' nutritional, healthcare, and husbandry needs. However, these practices are not standardized, resulting in likely variation among zoos as well as differences in the way they are applied to individual elephants within a zoo. To characterize elephant management in North America, we collected survey data from zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, developed 26 variables, generated population level descriptive statistics, and analyzed them to identify differences attributable to sex and species. Sixty-seven zoos submitted surveys describing the management of 224 elephants and the training experiences of 227 elephants. Asian elephants spent more time managed (defined as interacting directly with staff) than Africans (mean time managed: Asians = 56.9%; Africans = 48.6%; p<0.001), and managed time increased by 20.2% for every year of age for both species. Enrichment, feeding, and exercise programs were evaluated using diversity indices, with mean scores across zoos in the midrange for these measures. There were an average of 7.2 feedings every 24-hour period, with only 1.2 occurring during the nighttime. Feeding schedules were predictable at 47.5% of zoos. We also calculated the relative use of rewarding and aversive techniques employed during training interactions. The population median was seven on a scale from one (representing only aversive stimuli) to nine (representing only rewarding stimuli). The results of our study provide essential information for understanding management variation that could be relevant to welfare. Furthermore, the variables we created have been used in subsequent elephant welfare analyses. PMID:27414654

  4. Elephant Management in North American Zoos: Environmental Enrichment, Feeding, Exercise, and Training.

    PubMed

    Greco, Brian J; Meehan, Cheryl L; Miller, Lance J; Shepherdson, David J; Morfeld, Kari A; Andrews, Jeff; Baker, Anne M; Carlstead, Kathy; Mench, Joy A

    2016-01-01

    The management of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants in zoos involves a range of practices including feeding, exercise, training, and environmental enrichment. These practices are necessary to meet the elephants' nutritional, healthcare, and husbandry needs. However, these practices are not standardized, resulting in likely variation among zoos as well as differences in the way they are applied to individual elephants within a zoo. To characterize elephant management in North America, we collected survey data from zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, developed 26 variables, generated population level descriptive statistics, and analyzed them to identify differences attributable to sex and species. Sixty-seven zoos submitted surveys describing the management of 224 elephants and the training experiences of 227 elephants. Asian elephants spent more time managed (defined as interacting directly with staff) than Africans (mean time managed: Asians = 56.9%; Africans = 48.6%; p<0.001), and managed time increased by 20.2% for every year of age for both species. Enrichment, feeding, and exercise programs were evaluated using diversity indices, with mean scores across zoos in the midrange for these measures. There were an average of 7.2 feedings every 24-hour period, with only 1.2 occurring during the nighttime. Feeding schedules were predictable at 47.5% of zoos. We also calculated the relative use of rewarding and aversive techniques employed during training interactions. The population median was seven on a scale from one (representing only aversive stimuli) to nine (representing only rewarding stimuli). The results of our study provide essential information for understanding management variation that could be relevant to welfare. Furthermore, the variables we created have been used in subsequent elephant welfare analyses.

  5. Review of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses and Acute Hemorrhagic Disease.

    PubMed

    Long, Simon Y; Latimer, Erin M; Hayward, Gary S

    2016-01-01

    More than 100 young captive and wild Asian elephants are known to have died from a rapid-onset, acute hemorrhagic disease caused primarily by multiple distinct strains of two closely related chimeric variants of a novel herpesvirus species designated elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV1A and EEHV1B). These and two other species of Probosciviruses (EEHV4 and EEHV5) are evidently ancient and likely nearly ubiquitous asymptomatic infections of adult Asian elephants worldwide that are occasionally shed in trunk wash secretions. Although only a handful of similar cases have been observed in African elephants, they also have proved to harbor their own multiple and distinct species of Probosciviruses-EEHV2, EEHV3, EEHV6, and EEHV7-found in lung and skin nodules or saliva. For reasons that are not yet understood, approximately 20% of Asian elephant calves appear to be susceptible to the disease when primary infections are not controlled by normal innate cellular and humoral immune responses. Sensitive specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA blood tests have been developed, routine monitoring has been established, the complete large DNA genomes of each of the four Asian EEHV species have now been sequenced, and PCR gene subtyping has provided unambiguous evidence that this is a sporadic rather than epidemic disease that it is not being spread among zoos or other elephant housing facilities. Nevertheless, researchers have not yet been able to propagate EEHV in cell culture, determine whether or not human antiherpesvirus drugs are effective inhibitors, or develop serology assays that can distinguish between antibodies against the multiple different EEHV species. PMID:26912715

  6. Regional insight into savanna hydrogeomorphology from termite mounds.

    PubMed

    Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Chadwick, Oliver A; Khomo, Lesego M; Rogers, Kevin H; Hartshorn, Anthony S; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E

    2010-01-01

    Global vegetation models predict the spread of woody vegetation in African savannas and grasslands under future climate scenarios, but they operate too broadly to consider hillslope-scale variations in tree-grass distribution. Topographically linked hydrology-soil-vegetation sequences, or catenas, underpin a variety of ecological processes in savannas, including responses to climate change. In this study, we explore the three-dimensional structure of hillslopes and vegetation, using high-resolution airborne LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), to understand the long-term effects of mean annual precipitation (MAP) on catena pattern. Our results reveal that the presence and position of hillslope hydrological boundaries, or seeplines, vary as a function of MAP through its long-term influence on clay redistribution. We suggest that changes in climate will differentially alter the structure of savannas through hydrological changes to the seasonally saturated grasslands downslope of seeplines. The mechanisms underlying future woody encroachment are not simply physiological responses to elevated temperatures and CO(2) levels but also involve hydrogeomorphological processes at the hillslope scale.

  7. Regional insight into savanna hydrogeomorphology from termite mounds.

    PubMed

    Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Chadwick, Oliver A; Khomo, Lesego M; Rogers, Kevin H; Hartshorn, Anthony S; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E

    2010-01-01

    Global vegetation models predict the spread of woody vegetation in African savannas and grasslands under future climate scenarios, but they operate too broadly to consider hillslope-scale variations in tree-grass distribution. Topographically linked hydrology-soil-vegetation sequences, or catenas, underpin a variety of ecological processes in savannas, including responses to climate change. In this study, we explore the three-dimensional structure of hillslopes and vegetation, using high-resolution airborne LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), to understand the long-term effects of mean annual precipitation (MAP) on catena pattern. Our results reveal that the presence and position of hillslope hydrological boundaries, or seeplines, vary as a function of MAP through its long-term influence on clay redistribution. We suggest that changes in climate will differentially alter the structure of savannas through hydrological changes to the seasonally saturated grasslands downslope of seeplines. The mechanisms underlying future woody encroachment are not simply physiological responses to elevated temperatures and CO(2) levels but also involve hydrogeomorphological processes at the hillslope scale. PMID:20842197

  8. Endotheliotropic elephant herpesvirus, the first betaherpesvirus with a thymidine kinase gene.

    PubMed

    Ehlers, Bernhard; Dural, Güzin; Marschall, Manfred; Schregel, Vera; Goltz, Michael; Hentschke, Jochen

    2006-10-01

    Endotheliotropic elephant herpesvirus (elephantid herpesvirus 1; ElHV-1) is apathogenic for African elephants (Loxodonta africana), but causes fatal haemorrhagic disease in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). This is thought to occur through transmission from African elephants in places where both species are housed, such as zoological gardens. The virus has caused considerable losses in North American and European zoological gardens and thus severely impedes breeding of the endangered Asian elephant. Previously, the ultrastructural and genetic characterization of ElHV-1 from a male Asian elephant that died from the disease at the Berlin zoological gardens in 1998 have been reported. Here, a partial characterization of the ElHV-1 genome is presented. A 60 kbp locus, spanning 34 open reading frames, was analysed. Most of the detected genes were found to be conserved among the herpesviruses and showed an overall arrangement most similar to that of betaherpesviruses, in particular Human herpesvirus 6 and Human herpesvirus 7. Most importantly, in addition to a protein kinase gene that is homologous to the human cytomegalovirus UL97 gene, a thymidine kinase (TK) gene was found, which is generally missing in betaherpesvirus genomes. Thus, ElHV-1 is the only known betaherpesvirus to encode a TK gene. This peculiarity might contribute to the fulminant pathogenicity of ElHV-1, but also provide a crucial enzymic activity for developing an efficient antiviral therapy with currently available nucleoside analogues.

  9. Forest or the trees: At what scale do elephants make foraging decisions?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shrader, Adrian M.; Bell, Caroline; Bertolli, Liandra; Ward, David

    2012-07-01

    For herbivores, food is distributed spatially in a hierarchical manner ranging from plant parts to regions. Ultimately, utilisation of food is dependent on the scale at which herbivores make foraging decisions. A key factor that influences these decisions is body size, because selection inversely relates to body size. As a result, large animals can be less selective than small herbivores. Savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) are the largest terrestrial herbivore. Thus, they represent a potential extreme with respect to unselective feeding. However, several studies have indicated that elephants prefer specific habitats and certain woody plant species. Thus, it is unclear at which scale elephants focus their foraging decisions. To determine this, we recorded the seasonal selection of habitats and woody plant species by elephants in the Ithala Game Reserve, South Africa. We expected that during the wet season, when both food quality and availability were high, that elephants would select primarily for habitats. This, however, does not mean that they would utilise plant species within these habitats in proportion to availability, but rather would show a stronger selection for habitats compared to plants. In contrast, during the dry season when food quality and availability declined, we expected that elephants would shift and select for the remaining high quality woody species across all habitats. Consistent with our predictions, elephants selected for the larger spatial scale (i.e. habitats) during the wet season. However, elephants did not increase their selection of woody species during the dry season, but rather increased their selection of habitats relative to woody plant selection. Unlike a number of earlier studies, we found that that neither palatability (i.e. crude protein, digestibility, and energy) alone nor tannin concentrations had a significant effect for determining the elephants' selection of woody species. However, the palatability:tannin ratio was

  10. Assessing the General Education Elephant

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Eubanks, David A.

    2008-01-01

    Determining the success of a general education program can resemble the task of John Godfrey's six blind men in trying to acquaint themselves with an elephant. One man's approach is to feel the tusk and conclude that the elephant is a spear. Another approach leads to thinking that the broad side of the animal is a wall. The many ways of asking and…

  11. Illuminating Cancer Resistance in Elephants.

    PubMed

    2015-12-01

    A new study shows that elephants have at least 20 copies of the tumor suppressor gene TP53; their cells also favor apoptosis over DNA repair when subjected to DNA-damaging agents. These findings may help explain elephants' longevity and low cancer risk, and shed further light on natural cancer suppression mechanisms.

  12. Fatal herpesvirus hemorrhagic disease in wild and orphan asian elephants in southern India.

    PubMed

    Zachariah, Arun; Zong, Jian-Chao; Long, Simon Y; Latimer, Erin M; Heaggans, Sarah Y; Richman, Laura K; Hayward, Gary S

    2013-04-01

    Up to 65% of deaths of young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) between 3 mo and 15 yr of age in Europe and North America over the past 20 yr have been attributed to hemorrhagic disease associated with a novel DNA virus called elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). To evaluate the potential role of EEHV in suspected cases of a similar lethal acute hemorrhagic disease occurring in southern India, we studied pathologic tissue samples collected from field necropsies. Nine cases among both orphaned camp and wild Asian elephants were identified by diagnostic PCR. These were subjected to detailed gene subtype DNA sequencing at multiple PCR loci, which revealed seven distinct strains of EEHV1A and one of EEHV1B. Two orphan calves that died within 3 days of one another at the same training camp had identical EEHV1A DNA sequences, indicating a common epidemiologic source. However, the high level of EEHV1 subtype genetic diversity found among the other Indian strains matches that among over 30 EEHV1 strains that have been evaluated from Europe and North America. These results argue against the previous suggestions that this is just a disease of captive elephants and that the EEHV1 virus has crossed recently from African elephant (Loxodonta africana) hosts to Asian elephants. Instead, both the virus and the disease are evidently widespread in Asia and, despite the disease severity, Asian elephants appear to be the ancient endogenous hosts of both EEHV1A and EEHV1B.

  13. FATAL HERPESVIRUS HEMORRHAGIC DISEASE IN WILD AND ORPHAN ASIAN ELEPHANTS IN SOUTHERN INDIA

    PubMed Central

    Zachariah, Arun; Zong, Jian-Chao; Long, Simon Y.; Latimer, Erin M.; Heaggans, Sarah Y.; Richman, Laura K.; Hayward, Gary S.

    2013-01-01

    Up to 65% of deaths of young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) between 3 mo and 15 yr of age in Europe and North America over the past 20 yr have been attributed to hemorrhagic disease associated with a novel DNA virus called elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). To evaluate the potential role of EEHV in suspected cases of a similar lethal acute hemorrhagic disease occurring in southern India, we studied pathologic tissue samples collected from field necropsies. Nine cases among both orphaned camp and wild Asian elephants were identified by diagnostic PCR. These were subjected to detailed gene subtype DNA sequencing at multiple PCR loci, which revealed seven distinct strains of EEHV1A and one of EEHV1B. Two orphan calves that died within 3 days of one another at the same training camp had identical EEHV1A DNA sequences, indicating a common epidemiologic source. However, the high level of EEHV1 subtype genetic diversity found among the other Indian strains matches that among over 30 EEHV1 strains that have been evaluated from Europe and North America. These results argue against the previous suggestions that this is just a disease of captive elephants and that the EEHV1 virus has crossed recently from African elephant (Loxodonta africana) hosts to Asian elephants. Instead, both the virus and the disease are evidently widespread in Asia and, despite the disease severity, Asian elephants appear to be the ancient endogenous hosts of both EEHV1A and EEHV1B. PMID:23568914

  14. Emissions of organic trace gases from savanna fires in southern Africa during the 1992 Southern African Fire Atmosphere Research Initiative and their impact on the formation of tropospheric ozone

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Koppmann, R.; Khedim, A.; Rudolph, J.; Poppe, D.; Andreae, M. O.; Helas, G.; Welling, M.; Zenker, T.

    1997-08-01

    CO, CH4, and organic trace gases were measured in air samples collected during several flights with a DC-3 aircraft through the plumes from savanna fires and agricultural fires during the SAFARI 92 campaign in southern Africa in September and October 1992. In all samples a variety of higher molecular weight organic compounds was found, most of which are very reactive. More than 70 of the roughly 140 major components present could be identified. Typically, mixing ratios of several hundred parts per billion carbon of organic compounds were measured inside the plumes, corresponding to an emission ratio of total organic carbon relative to CO2 of up to 1%. About 50% of these emissions were in the form of oxygenated and unsaturated compounds. The contributions of still unknown compounds to the total emission of organic compounds add up to another 20-30%. The observed emission ratios relative to CO2 show a considerable variation depending on the fuel type and the burning stages of the fire. The lowest value of the emission ratio of the sum of all identified organic compounds relative to CO2 was found for a sugar cane fire with (1.7±0.7)×10-3 (ppb C/ppb CO2). For a large savanna fire in Kruger National Park the ratio was (7.4±1.6)×10-3 (ppb C/ppb CO2). The highest value was (13.7±0.9)×10-3 (ppb C/ppb CO2) for an uncontrolled fire of mainly wood and shrub in the Drakensberg region. Results of model calculations show that in biomass-burning plumes, reactive organic compounds contribute significantly to the formation of ozone, especially during the initial phase of photochemical processing.

  15. Ovarian cycle activity varies with respect to age and social status in free-ranging elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

    PubMed Central

    Freeman, Elizabeth W.; Meyer, Jordana M.; Putman, Sarah B.; Schulte, Bruce A.; Brown, Janine L.

    2013-01-01

    Free-ranging African elephants live in a fission–fusion society, at the centre of which is the matriarch. Matriarchs are generally older females that guide their families to resources and co-ordinate group defense. While much is known about elephant society, knowledge is generally lacking about how age affects the physiology of wild elephants. Investigation of the ovarian activity of free-ranging elephants could provide insight into the reproductive ageing process, with implications for population management. Faecal samples were collected from 46 individuals ranging in age from 14 to 60 years for a 2-year period, and progestagen metabolite analyses were used to examine relationships between social status, age, season, and ovarian activity in female elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Social status was the strongest predictor of faecal progestagen metabolite concentrations in non-pregnant elephants, with grand matriarchs (n = 6) having the lowest values compared with matriarchs (n = 21) and non-matriarch females (n = 19). Likewise, social status and age were the strongest predictors of faecal progestagen metabolite concentrations in pregnant elephants (n = 27). The number of years since a non-pregnant female gave birth to her last calf (post-partum duration) was longer for older females with a higher social status, as well as during the dry season. Our results indicate that social standing and age of elephants are related to reproductive function, and that older females exhibit reductions in ovarian capacity. These results expand our understanding of reproduction and fertility throughout an elephant's lifespan, and the factors that impact gonadal function in free-ranging females. Given that possible over-abundance of elephants in areas such as Addo Elephant National Park is fuelling the debate over how best to manage these populations, knowledge about the reproductive potential of high-ranking females can provide managers with

  16. Elephant Management in North American Zoos: Environmental Enrichment, Feeding, Exercise, and Training

    PubMed Central

    Greco, Brian J.; Meehan, Cheryl L.; Miller, Lance J.; Shepherdson, David J.; Morfeld, Kari A.; Andrews, Jeff; Baker, Anne M.; Carlstead, Kathy; Mench, Joy A.

    2016-01-01

    The management of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants in zoos involves a range of practices including feeding, exercise, training, and environmental enrichment. These practices are necessary to meet the elephants’ nutritional, healthcare, and husbandry needs. However, these practices are not standardized, resulting in likely variation among zoos as well as differences in the way they are applied to individual elephants within a zoo. To characterize elephant management in North America, we collected survey data from zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, developed 26 variables, generated population level descriptive statistics, and analyzed them to identify differences attributable to sex and species. Sixty-seven zoos submitted surveys describing the management of 224 elephants and the training experiences of 227 elephants. Asian elephants spent more time managed (defined as interacting directly with staff) than Africans (mean time managed: Asians = 56.9%; Africans = 48.6%; p<0.001), and managed time increased by 20.2% for every year of age for both species. Enrichment, feeding, and exercise programs were evaluated using diversity indices, with mean scores across zoos in the midrange for these measures. There were an average of 7.2 feedings every 24-hour period, with only 1.2 occurring during the nighttime. Feeding schedules were predictable at 47.5% of zoos. We also calculated the relative use of rewarding and aversive techniques employed during training interactions. The population median was seven on a scale from one (representing only aversive stimuli) to nine (representing only rewarding stimuli). The results of our study provide essential information for understanding management variation that could be relevant to welfare. Furthermore, the variables we created have been used in subsequent elephant welfare analyses. PMID:27414654

  17. Corridor use by Asian elephants.

    PubMed

    Pan, Wenjing; Lin, Liu; Luo, Aidong; Zhang, Li

    2009-06-01

    There are 18 km of Kunming-Bangkok Highway passing through the Mengyang Nature Reserve of Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve in Yunnan Province, China. From September 2005 to September 2006 the impact of this highway on movement of wild Asian elephants between the eastern and western part of the nature reserve was studied using track transecting, rural surveys and direct monitoring. Our results showed that the number of crossroad corridors used by Asian elephants diminished from 28 to 23 following the construction of the highway. In some areas, the elephant activity diminished or even disappeared, which indicated a change in their home ranges. The utilization rate of artificial corridors was 44%. We also found that elephants preferred artificial corridors that were placed along their original corridors. During the research, wild elephants revealed their adaptation to the highway. They were found walking across the highway road surface many times and for different reasons. We suggest that the highway management bureau should revise their management strategies to mitigate the potential risks caused by elephants on the road for the safety of the public and to protect this endangered species from harm. It is also very important to protect and maintain current Asian elephants corridors in this region.

  18. Potential Mechanisms for Cancer Resistance in Elephants and Comparative Cellular Response to DNA Damage in Humans

    PubMed Central

    Abegglen, Lisa M.; Caulin, Aleah F.; Chan, Ashley; Lee, Kristy; Robinson, Rosann; Campbell, Michael S.; Kiso, Wendy K.; Schmitt, Dennis L.; Waddell, Peter J; Bhaskara, Srividya; Jensen, Shane T.; Maley, Carlo C.; Schiffman, Joshua D.

    2016-01-01

    IMPORTANCE Evolutionary medicine may provide insights into human physiology and pathophysiology, including tumor biology. OBJECTIVE To identify mechanisms for cancer resistance in elephants and compare cellular response to DNA damage among elephants, healthy human controls, and cancer-prone patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS A comprehensive survey of necropsy data was performed across 36 mammalian species to validate cancer resistance in large and long-lived organisms, including elephants (n = 644). The African and Asian elephant genomes were analyzed for potential mechanisms of cancer resistance. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from elephants, healthy human controls, and patients with LFS were tested in vitro in the laboratory for DNA damage response. The study included African and Asian elephants (n = 8), patients with LFS (n = 10), and age-matched human controls (n = 11). Human samples were collected at the University of Utah between June 2014 and July 2015. EXPOSURES Ionizing radiation and doxorubicin. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Cancer mortality across species was calculated and compared by body size and life span. The elephant genome was investigated for alterations in cancer-related genes. DNA repair and apoptosis were compared in elephant vs human peripheral blood lymphocytes. RESULTS Across mammals, cancer mortality did not increase with body size and/or maximum life span (eg, for rock hyrax, 1% [95%CI, 0%–5%]; African wild dog, 8%[95%CI, 0%–16%]; lion, 2%[95%CI, 0% –7%]). Despite their large body size and long life span, elephants remain cancer resistant, with an estimated cancer mortality of 4.81% (95%CI, 3.14%–6.49%), compared with humans, who have 11% to 25%cancer mortality. While humans have 1 copy (2 alleles) of TP53, African elephants have at least 20 copies (40 alleles), including 19 retrogenes (38 alleles) with evidence of transcriptional activity measured by reverse transcription polymerase chain

  19. Disaggregating tree and grass phenology in tropical savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhou, Qiang

    method was better for extracting the green tree phenology, but the original decomposition method was better for retrieval of understory grass phenology. Both methods, however, were less accurate than in the Cerrado than in Australia due to intermingling and intergrading of grass and small woody components. Since African savanna trees are predominantly deciduous, the frequency method was combined with the linear unmixing of fractional cover to attempt to separate the relatively similar phenology of deciduous trees and seasonal grasses. The results for Africa revealed limitations associated with both methods. There was spatial and seasonal variation in the spectral indices used to unmix fractional cover resulting in poor validation for NPV in particular. The frequency analysis revealed significant phase variation indicative of different phenology, but these could not be clearly ascribed to separate grass and tree components. Overall findings indicate that site-specific variation and vegetation structure and composition, along with MODIS pixel resolution, and the simple vegetation index approach used was not robust across the different savanna biomes. The approach showed generally better performance for estimating PV fraction, and separating green phenology, but there were major inconsistencies, errors and biases in estimation of NPV and BS outside of the Australian savanna environment.

  20. Dating Studies of Elephant Tusks Using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

    SciTech Connect

    Sideras-Haddad, E; Brown, T A

    2002-10-03

    A new method for determining the year of birth, the year of death, and hence, the age at death, of post-bomb and recently deceased elephants has been developed. The technique is based on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry radiocarbon analyses of small-sized samples extracted from along the length of a ge-line of an elephant tusk. The measured radiocarbon concentrations in the samples from a tusk can be compared to the {sup 14}C atmospheric bomb-pulse curve to derive the growth years of the initial and final samples from the tusk. Initial data from the application of this method to two tusks will be presented. Potentially, the method may play a significant role in wildlife management practices of African national parks. Additionally, the method may contribute to the underpinnings of efforts to define new international trade regulations, which could, in effect, decrease poaching and the killing of very young animals.

  1. How to swallow an elephant

    SciTech Connect

    Powell, K.B.

    1995-03-01

    There is an old East Indian fable of a young man who went to see a wise man. The young man had a question - {open_quotes}How can I become rich and powerful?{close_quotes} The wise man paused for a moment then asked a question in return - {open_quotes}How can you swallow an elephant?{close_quotes} The young man was astounded, {open_quotes}There is no way a man can swallow an elephant!{close_quotes} {open_quotes}Yes, there is,{close_quotes} replied the wise man, {open_quotes}You just have to do it one bite at a time.{close_quotes} Many large problems can only be handled the same way that an elephant is swallowed, one bite at a time. Global warming and other environmental problems are obviously of elephant-swallowing scale. Some have set a goal for our society of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO{sub 2}), by 20%. The cost to accomplish this has been estimated to be about five trillion dollars! As big as this elephant is, I suspect that its size is understated, if all the factors involved are included. The proponents of the plan tell us that it is well worth the cost to save the world. Therein lies another elephant-style problem.

  2. Prenatal passive transfer of maternal immunity in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Nofs, Sally A; Atmar, Robert L; Keitel, Wendy A; Hanlon, Cathleen; Stanton, Jeffrey J; Tan, Jie; Flanagan, Joseph P; Howard, Lauren; Ling, Paul D

    2013-06-15

    Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants exhibit characteristics of endotheliochorial placentation, which is common in carnivore species and is associated with modest maternal to fetal transplacental antibody transfer. However, it remains unknown whether the bulk of passive immune transfer in elephants is achieved prenatally or postnatally through ingestion of colostrum, as has been documented for horses, a species whose medical knowledgebase is often extrapolated for elephants. To address this issue, we took advantage of the fact that many zoo elephants are immunized with tetanus toxoid and/or rabies vaccines as part of their routine health care, allowing a comparison of serum antibody levels against these antigens between dams and neonates. Serum samples were collected from 3 newborn Asian elephant calves at birth (before ingestion of colostrum); 2-4 days after birth; and 2-3 months of age. The findings indicate that the newborns had anti-tetanus toxoid and anti-rabies titers that were equivalent to or higher than the titers of their dams from birth to approximately 3 months of age, suggesting that the majority of maternal-to-fetal transfer is transplacental and higher than expected based on the architecture of the Asian elephant placenta.

  3. Elephants (and extinct relatives) as earth-movers and ecosystem engineers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haynes, Gary

    2012-07-01

    Modern African elephants affect habitats and ecosystems in significant ways. They push over trees to feed on upper branches and often peel large sections of bark to eat. These destructive habits sometimes transform woody vegetation into grasslands. Systems of elephant trails may be used and re-used for centuries, and create incised features that extend for many kilometers on migration routes. Elephants, digging in search of water or mineral sediments, may remove several cubic meters of sediments in each excavation. Wallowing elephants may remove up to a cubic meter of pond sediments each time they visit water sources. Accumulations of elephant dung on frequented land surfaces may be over 2 kg per square meter. Elephant trampling, digging, and dust-bathing may reverse stratigraphy at archeological localities. This paper summarizes these types of effects on biotic, geomorphic, and paleontological features in modern-day landscapes, and also describes several fossil sites that indicate extinct proboscideans had very similar effects, such as major sediment disturbances.

  4. Mobility-based management of livestock to improve biodiversity conservation in African savannahs: A conceptual basis for wildlife-livestock co-existence

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    African savannas are complex socio-ecological systems with diverse wild and domestic herbivore assemblages, which utilize functional heterogeneity of habitats to adapt to intra- and inter-annual variation in forage quantity and quality, predation and disease risks. As African savannas become increas...

  5. Long-term monitoring of Dzanga Bai forest elephants: forest clearing use patterns.

    PubMed

    Turkalo, Andrea K; Wrege, Peter H; Wittemyer, George

    2013-01-01

    Individual identification of the relatively cryptic forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) at forest clearings currently provides the highest quality monitoring data on this ecologically important but increasingly threatened species. Here we present baseline data from the first 20 years of an individually based study of this species, conducted at the Dzanga Clearing, Central African Republic. A total of 3,128 elephants were identified over the 20-year study (1,244 adults; 675 females, 569 males). It took approximately four years for the majority of elephants visiting the clearing to be identified, but new elephants entered the clearing every year of the study. The study population was relatively stable, varying from 1,668 to 1,864 individuals (including juveniles and infants), with increasingly fewer males than females over time. The age-class distribution for females remained qualitatively unchanged between 1995 and 2010, while the proportion of adult males decreased from 20% to 10%, likely reflecting increased mortality. Visitation patterns by individuals were highly variable, with some elephants visiting monthly while others were ephemeral users with visits separated by multiple years. The number of individuals in the clearing at any time varied between 40 and 100 individuals, and there was little evidence of a seasonal pattern in this variation. The number of elephants entering the clearing together (defined here as a social group) averaged 1.49 (range 1-12) for males and 2.67 (range 1-14) for females. This collation of 20 years of intensive forest elephant monitoring provides the first detailed, long term look at the ecology of bai visitation for this species, offering insight to the ecological significance and motivation for bai use, social behavior, and threats to forest elephants. We discuss likely drivers (rainfall, compression, illegal killing, etc.) influencing bai visitation rates. This study provides the baseline for future demographic and behavioral

  6. Long-Term Monitoring of Dzanga Bai Forest Elephants: Forest Clearing Use Patterns

    PubMed Central

    Turkalo, Andrea K.; Wrege, Peter H.; Wittemyer, George

    2013-01-01

    Individual identification of the relatively cryptic forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) at forest clearings currently provides the highest quality monitoring data on this ecologically important but increasingly threatened species. Here we present baseline data from the first 20 years of an individually based study of this species, conducted at the Dzanga Clearing, Central African Republic. A total of 3,128 elephants were identified over the 20-year study (1,244 adults; 675 females, 569 males). It took approximately four years for the majority of elephants visiting the clearing to be identified, but new elephants entered the clearing every year of the study. The study population was relatively stable, varying from 1,668 to 1,864 individuals (including juveniles and infants), with increasingly fewer males than females over time. The age-class distribution for females remained qualitatively unchanged between 1995 and 2010, while the proportion of adult males decreased from 20% to 10%, likely reflecting increased mortality. Visitation patterns by individuals were highly variable, with some elephants visiting monthly while others were ephemeral users with visits separated by multiple years. The number of individuals in the clearing at any time varied between 40 and 100 individuals, and there was little evidence of a seasonal pattern in this variation. The number of elephants entering the clearing together (defined here as a social group) averaged 1.49 (range 1–12) for males and 2.67 (range 1–14) for females. This collation of 20 years of intensive forest elephant monitoring provides the first detailed, long term look at the ecology of bai visitation for this species, offering insight to the ecological significance and motivation for bai use, social behavior, and threats to forest elephants. We discuss likely drivers (rainfall, compression, illegal killing, etc.) influencing bai visitation rates. This study provides the baseline for future demographic and behavioral

  7. Comparison of the driving forces of spring phenology among savanna landscapes by including combined spatial and temporal heterogeneity.

    PubMed

    Zhu, Likai; Southworth, Jane; Meng, Jijun

    2015-10-01

    Understanding spatial and temporal dynamics of land surface phenology (LSP) and its driving forces are critical for providing information relevant to short- and long-term decision making, particularly as it relates to climate response planning. With the third generation Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling System (GIMMS3g) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data and environmental data from multiple sources, we investigated the spatio-temporal changes in the start of the growing season (SOS) in southern African savannas from 1982 through 2010 and determined its linkage to environmental factors using spatial panel data models. Overall, the SOS occurs earlier in the north compared to the south. This relates in part to the differences in ecosystems, with northern areas representing high rainfall and dense tree cover (mainly tree savannas), whereas the south has lower rainfall and sparse tree cover (mainly bush and grass savannas). From 1982 to 2010, an advanced trend was observed predominantly in the tree savanna areas of the north, whereas a delayed trend was chiefly found in the floodplain of the north and bush/grass savannas of the south. Different environmental drivers were detected within tree- and grass-dominated savannas, with a critical division being represented by the 800 mm isohyet. Our results supported the importance of water as a driver in this water-limited system, specifically preseason soil moisture, in determining the SOS in these water-limited, grass-dominated savannas. In addition, the research pointed to other, often overlooked, effects of preseason maximum and minimum temperatures on the SOS across the entire region. Higher preseason maximum temperatures led to an advance of the SOS, whereas the opposite effects of preseason minimum temperature were observed. With the rapid increase in global change research, this work will prove helpful for managing savanna landscapes and key to predicting how projected climate changes will affect

  8. Comparison of the driving forces of spring phenology among savanna landscapes by including combined spatial and temporal heterogeneity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhu, Likai; Southworth, Jane; Meng, Jijun

    2015-10-01

    Understanding spatial and temporal dynamics of land surface phenology (LSP) and its driving forces are critical for providing information relevant to short- and long-term decision making, particularly as it relates to climate response planning. With the third generation Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling System (GIMMS3g) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data and environmental data from multiple sources, we investigated the spatio-temporal changes in the start of the growing season (SOS) in southern African savannas from 1982 through 2010 and determined its linkage to environmental factors using spatial panel data models. Overall, the SOS occurs earlier in the north compared to the south. This relates in part to the differences in ecosystems, with northern areas representing high rainfall and dense tree cover (mainly tree savannas), whereas the south has lower rainfall and sparse tree cover (mainly bush and grass savannas). From 1982 to 2010, an advanced trend was observed predominantly in the tree savanna areas of the north, whereas a delayed trend was chiefly found in the floodplain of the north and bush/grass savannas of the south. Different environmental drivers were detected within tree- and grass-dominated savannas, with a critical division being represented by the 800 mm isohyet. Our results supported the importance of water as a driver in this water-limited system, specifically preseason soil moisture, in determining the SOS in these water-limited, grass-dominated savannas. In addition, the research pointed to other, often overlooked, effects of preseason maximum and minimum temperatures on the SOS across the entire region. Higher preseason maximum temperatures led to an advance of the SOS, whereas the opposite effects of preseason minimum temperature were observed. With the rapid increase in global change research, this work will prove helpful for managing savanna landscapes and key to predicting how projected climate changes will affect

  9. Simultaneous Visual Discrimination in Asian Elephants

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Nissani, Moti; Hoefler-Nissani, Donna; Lay, U. Tin; Htun, U. Wan

    2005-01-01

    Two experiments explored the behavior of 20 Asian elephants ("Elephas aximus") in simultaneous visual discrimination tasks. In Experiment 1, 7 Burmese logging elephants acquired a white+/black- discrimination, reaching criterion in a mean of 2.6 sessions and 117 discrete trials, whereas 4 elephants acquired a black+/white- discrimination in 5.3…

  10. Comparative sequence analyses of genome and transcriptome reveal novel transcripts and variants in the Asian elephant Elephas maximus.

    PubMed

    Reddy, Puli Chandramouli; Sinha, Ishani; Kelkar, Ashwin; Habib, Farhat; Pradhan, Saurabh J; Sukumar, Raman; Galande, Sanjeev

    2015-12-01

    The Asian elephant Elephas maximus and the African elephant Loxodonta africana that diverged 5-7 million years ago exhibit differences in their physiology, behaviour and morphology. A comparative genomics approach would be useful and necessary for evolutionary and functional genetic studies of elephants. We performed sequencing of E. maximus and map to L. africana at ~15X coverage. Through comparative sequence analyses, we have identified Asian elephant specific homozygous, non-synonymous single nucleotide variants (SNVs) that map to 1514 protein coding genes, many of which are involved in olfaction. We also present the first report of a high-coverage transcriptome sequence in E. maximus from peripheral blood lymphocytes. We have identified 103 novel protein coding transcripts and 66-long non-coding (lnc)RNAs. We also report the presence of 181 protein domains unique to elephants when compared to other Afrotheria species. Each of these findings can be further investigated to gain a better understanding of functional differences unique to elephant species, as well as those unique to elephantids in comparison with other mammals. This work therefore provides a valuable resource to explore the immense research potential of comparative analyses of transcriptome and genome sequences in the Asian elephant.

  11. Comparative sequence analyses of genome and transcriptome reveal novel transcripts and variants in the Asian elephant Elephas maximus.

    PubMed

    Reddy, Puli Chandramouli; Sinha, Ishani; Kelkar, Ashwin; Habib, Farhat; Pradhan, Saurabh J; Sukumar, Raman; Galande, Sanjeev

    2015-12-01

    The Asian elephant Elephas maximus and the African elephant Loxodonta africana that diverged 5-7 million years ago exhibit differences in their physiology, behaviour and morphology. A comparative genomics approach would be useful and necessary for evolutionary and functional genetic studies of elephants. We performed sequencing of E. maximus and map to L. africana at ~15X coverage. Through comparative sequence analyses, we have identified Asian elephant specific homozygous, non-synonymous single nucleotide variants (SNVs) that map to 1514 protein coding genes, many of which are involved in olfaction. We also present the first report of a high-coverage transcriptome sequence in E. maximus from peripheral blood lymphocytes. We have identified 103 novel protein coding transcripts and 66-long non-coding (lnc)RNAs. We also report the presence of 181 protein domains unique to elephants when compared to other Afrotheria species. Each of these findings can be further investigated to gain a better understanding of functional differences unique to elephant species, as well as those unique to elephantids in comparison with other mammals. This work therefore provides a valuable resource to explore the immense research potential of comparative analyses of transcriptome and genome sequences in the Asian elephant. PMID:26648035

  12. Endocrine correlates of musth in free-ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) determined by non-invasive faecal steroid hormone metabolite measurements.

    PubMed

    Ghosal, Ratna; Ganswindt, André; Seshagiri, Polani B; Sukumar, Raman

    2013-01-01

    The occurrence of musth, a period of elevated levels of androgens and heightened sexual activity, has been well documented for the male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). However, the relationship between androgen-dependent musth and adrenocortical function in this species is unclear. The current study is the first assessment of testicular and adrenocortical function in free-ranging male Asian elephants by measuring levels of testosterone (androgen) and cortisol (glucocorticoid--a physiological indicator of stress) metabolites in faeces. During musth, males expectedly showed significant elevation in faecal testosterone metabolite levels. Interestingly, glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations remained unchanged between musth and non-musth periods. This observation is contrary to that observed with wild and captive African elephant bulls and captive Asian bull elephants. Our results show that musth may not necessarily represent a stressful condition in free-ranging male Asian elephants. PMID:24358371

  13. Population pharmacokinetics of pyrazinamide in elephants.

    PubMed

    Zhu, M; Maslow, J N; Mikota, S K; Isaza, R; Dunker, F; Riddle, H; Peloquin, C A

    2005-10-01

    This study was undertaken to characterize the population pharmacokinetics (PK), therapeutic dose, and preferred route of administration for pyrazinamide (PZA) in elephants. Twenty-three African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants infected with or in contact with others culture positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis were dosed under treatment conditions. PZA was dosed daily at 20-30 mg/kg via oral (fasting or nonfasting state) or rectal (enema or suppository) administration. Blood samples were collected 0-24 h postdose. Population PK was estimated using nonlinear mixed effect modeling. Drug absorption was rapid with T(max) at or before 2 h regardless of the method of drug administration. C(max) at a mean dose of 25.6 (+/-4.6) mg/kg was 19.6 (+/-9.5 microg/mL) for PZA given orally under fasting conditions. Under nonfasting conditions at a mean dose of 26.1 +/- 4.2 mg/kg, C(max) was 25% (4.87 +/- 4.89 microg/mL) and area under concentration curve (AUC) was 30% of the values observed under fasting conditions. Mean rectal dose of 32.6 +/- 15.2 mg/kg yielded C(max) of 12.3 +/- 6.3 microg/mL, but comparable AUC to PZA administered orally while fasting. Both oral and rectal administration of PZA appeared to be acceptable and oral dosing is preferred because of the higher C(max) and lower inter-subject variability. A starting dose of 30 mg/kg is recommended with drug monitoring between 1 and 2 h postdose. Higher doses may be required if the achieved C(max) values are below the recommended 20-50 microg/mL range. PMID:16207301

  14. Direct measurements of the seasonality of emission factors from savanna fires in northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meyer, C. P.; Cook, G. D.; Reisen, F.; Smith, T. E. L.; Tattaris, M.; Russell-Smith, J.; Maier, S. W.; Yates, C. P.; Wooster, M. J.

    2012-10-01

    Current good practice guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories requires that seasonal variation in emission factors from savanna fires be considered when compiling national accounts. African studies concluded that the emission factor for methane decreases during the dry season principally due to curing of the fuels. However, available data from Australian tropical savannas shows no effect of seasonality on emission factors, consistent with observations that the fine fuels appear to cure fully soon after the start of the fire season. To test whether the seasonality in greenhouse gas emission factors reported for Africa also occurs in Australia, methane and nitrous oxide emission factors were measured in early and in late dry season fires in Western Arnhem Land, a region typical of much of the northern Australia savanna zone. We found no significant seasonality in methane emission factors, but there was substantial variation in emission factors associated with inter-fire differences in vegetation and fuel. This variation could be explained almost completely by combustion efficiency. Nitrous oxide emission factors were not related to combustion efficiency but showed some variation across vegetation and fuel size class. Both methane and nitrous oxide emission factors were consistent with previous work in northern Australia and with some published values from Africa. The absence of a significant seasonal trend in emission factors indicates that savanna fire emissions in northern Australia can be managed by strategic prescribed burning.

  15. Large carnivores make savanna tree communities less thorny.

    PubMed

    Ford, Adam T; Goheen, Jacob R; Otieno, Tobias O; Bidner, Laura; Isbell, Lynne A; Palmer, Todd M; Ward, David; Woodroffe, Rosie; Pringle, Robert M

    2014-10-17

    Understanding how predation risk and plant defenses interactively shape plant distributions is a core challenge in ecology. By combining global positioning system telemetry of an abundant antelope (impala) and its main predators (leopards and wild dogs) with a series of manipulative field experiments, we showed that herbivores' risk-avoidance behavior and plants' antiherbivore defenses interact to determine tree distributions in an African savanna. Well-defended thorny Acacia trees (A. etbaica) were abundant in low-risk areas where impala aggregated but rare in high-risk areas that impala avoided. In contrast, poorly defended trees (A. brevispica) were more abundant in high- than in low-risk areas. Our results suggest that plants can persist in landscapes characterized by intense herbivory, either by defending themselves or by thriving in risky areas where carnivores hunt. PMID:25324387

  16. Shift in black rhinoceros diet in the presence of elephant: evidence for competition?

    PubMed

    Landman, Marietjie; Schoeman, David S; Kerley, Graham I H

    2013-01-01

    In African large herbivore assemblages, megaherbivores dominate the biomass and utilise the greatest share of available resources. Consequently, they are considered a separate trophic guild that structures the food niches of coexisting large herbivores. However, there exists little empirical evidence on how food resources are shared within this guild, and none for direct competition for food between megaherbivores. Using the histological analysis of faeces, we explore this phenomenon for African elephant Loxodonta africana and black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa, where the accumulated impacts of elephant have reduced browse availability. Despite being unable to generalise beyond our study sites, our observations support the predictions of competition theory (as opposed to optimality theory) by showing (1) a clear seasonal separation in resource use between these megaherbivores that increased as resource availability declined, and (2) rhinoceros changed their selectivity in the absence of elephant (using an adjacent site) by expanding and shifting their diet along the grass-browse continuum, and in relation to availability. Although black rhinoceros are generally considered strict browsers, the most significant shift in diet occurred as rhinoceros increased their preferences for grasses in the presence of elephant. We speculate that the lack of specialised grazing adaptations may increase foraging costs in rhinoceros, through reduced harvest- and handling-efficiencies of grasses. In the short-term, this may be off-set by an enhanced tolerance for low quality food and by seasonally mobilising fat reserves; however, the long-term fitness consequences require further study. Our data suggest that managing elephant at high densities may compromise the foraging opportunities of coexisting browsers. This may be particularly important in small, fenced areas and overlapping preferred habitats where impacts intensify. PMID

  17. Shift in Black Rhinoceros Diet in the Presence of Elephant: Evidence for Competition?

    PubMed Central

    Landman, Marietjie; Schoeman, David S.; Kerley, Graham I. H.

    2013-01-01

    In African large herbivore assemblages, megaherbivores dominate the biomass and utilise the greatest share of available resources. Consequently, they are considered a separate trophic guild that structures the food niches of coexisting large herbivores. However, there exists little empirical evidence on how food resources are shared within this guild, and none for direct competition for food between megaherbivores. Using the histological analysis of faeces, we explore this phenomenon for African elephant Loxodonta africana and black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa, where the accumulated impacts of elephant have reduced browse availability. Despite being unable to generalise beyond our study sites, our observations support the predictions of competition theory (as opposed to optimality theory) by showing (1) a clear seasonal separation in resource use between these megaherbivores that increased as resource availability declined, and (2) rhinoceros changed their selectivity in the absence of elephant (using an adjacent site) by expanding and shifting their diet along the grass-browse continuum, and in relation to availability. Although black rhinoceros are generally considered strict browsers, the most significant shift in diet occurred as rhinoceros increased their preferences for grasses in the presence of elephant. We speculate that the lack of specialised grazing adaptations may increase foraging costs in rhinoceros, through reduced harvest- and handling-efficiencies of grasses. In the short-term, this may be off-set by an enhanced tolerance for low quality food and by seasonally mobilising fat reserves; however, the long-term fitness consequences require further study. Our data suggest that managing elephant at high densities may compromise the foraging opportunities of coexisting browsers. This may be particularly important in small, fenced areas and overlapping preferred habitats where impacts intensify. PMID

  18. Roadless wilderness area determines forest elephant movements in the Congo Basin.

    PubMed

    Blake, Stephen; Deem, Sharon L; Strindberg, Samantha; Maisels, Fiona; Momont, Ludovic; Isia, Inogwabini-Bila; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Karesh, William B; Kock, Michael D

    2008-01-01

    A dramatic expansion of road building is underway in the Congo Basin fuelled by private enterprise, international aid, and government aspirations. Among the great wilderness areas on earth, the Congo Basin is outstanding for its high biodiversity, particularly mobile megafauna including forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis). The abundance of many mammal species in the Basin increases with distance from roads due to hunting pressure, but the impacts of road proliferation on the movements of individuals are unknown. We investigated the ranging behaviour of forest elephants in relation to roads and roadless wilderness by fitting GPS telemetry collars onto a sample of 28 forest elephants living in six priority conservation areas. We show that the size of roadless wilderness is a strong determinant of home range size in this species. Though our study sites included the largest wilderness areas in central African forests, none of 4 home range metrics we calculated, including core area, tended toward an asymptote with increasing wilderness size, suggesting that uninhibited ranging in forest elephants no longer exists. Furthermore we show that roads outside protected areas which are not protected from hunting are a formidable barrier to movement while roads inside protected areas are not. Only 1 elephant from our sample crossed an unprotected road. During crossings her mean speed increased 14-fold compared to normal movements. Forest elephants are increasingly confined and constrained by roads across the Congo Basin which is reducing effective habitat availability and isolating populations, significantly threatening long term conservation efforts. If the current road development trajectory continues, forest wildernesses and the forest elephants they contain will collapse. PMID:18958284

  19. Unmanned aerial survey of elephants.

    PubMed

    Vermeulen, Cédric; Lejeune, Philippe; Lisein, Jonathan; Sawadogo, Prosper; Bouché, Philippe

    2013-01-01

    The use of a UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) was tested to survey large mammals in the Nazinga Game Ranch in the south of Burkina Faso. The Gatewing ×100™ equipped with a Ricoh GR III camera was used to test animal reaction as the UAS passed, and visibility on the images. No reaction was recorded as the UAS passed at a height of 100 m. Observations, made on a set of more than 7000 images, revealed that only elephants (Loxodonta africana) were easily visible while medium and small sized mammals were not. The easy observation of elephants allows experts to enumerate them on images acquired at a height of 100 m. We, therefore, implemented an aerial strip sample count along transects used for the annual wildlife foot count. A total of 34 elephants were recorded on 4 transects, each overflown twice. The elephant density was estimated at 2.47 elephants/km(2) with a coefficient of variation (CV%) of 36.10%. The main drawback of our UAS was its low autonomy (45 min). Increased endurance of small UAS is required to replace manned aircraft survey of large areas (about 1000 km of transect per day vs 40 km for our UAS). The monitoring strategy should be adapted according to the sampling plan. Also, the UAS is as expensive as a second-hand light aircraft. However the logistic and flight implementation are easier, the running costs are lower and its use is safer. Technological evolution will make civil UAS more efficient, allowing them to compete with light aircraft for aerial wildlife surveys.

  20. Unmanned Aerial Survey of Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Vermeulen, Cédric; Lejeune, Philippe; Lisein, Jonathan; Sawadogo, Prosper; Bouché, Philippe

    2013-01-01

    The use of a UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) was tested to survey large mammals in the Nazinga Game Ranch in the south of Burkina Faso. The Gatewing ×100™ equipped with a Ricoh GR III camera was used to test animal reaction as the UAS passed, and visibility on the images. No reaction was recorded as the UAS passed at a height of 100 m. Observations, made on a set of more than 7000 images, revealed that only elephants (Loxodonta africana) were easily visible while medium and small sized mammals were not. The easy observation of elephants allows experts to enumerate them on images acquired at a height of 100 m. We, therefore, implemented an aerial strip sample count along transects used for the annual wildlife foot count. A total of 34 elephants were recorded on 4 transects, each overflown twice. The elephant density was estimated at 2.47 elephants/km2 with a coefficient of variation (CV%) of 36.10%. The main drawback of our UAS was its low autonomy (45 min). Increased endurance of small UAS is required to replace manned aircraft survey of large areas (about 1000 km of transect per day vs 40 km for our UAS). The monitoring strategy should be adapted according to the sampling plan. Also, the UAS is as expensive as a second-hand light aircraft. However the logistic and flight implementation are easier, the running costs are lower and its use is safer. Technological evolution will make civil UAS more efficient, allowing them to compete with light aircraft for aerial wildlife surveys. PMID:23405088

  1. Nitrogen Dynamics of the Savanna Flux Site at Skukuza, Kruger National Park.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Woghiren, A. J.; Scholes, M.

    2001-12-01

    The SAFARI 2000 campaign aims at validating satellite-based estimates of photosynthesis and net primary productivity (NPP). The Skukuza site has two vegetation types, a Combretum (broad-leafed) savanna and an Acacia (fine-leafed) savanna. Since it is expected that these two vegetation types may have markedly different responses to global climate change, it is an ideal site for the Earth observing systems (EOS) validation experiment. NPP estimates need to be explained and supported using corresponding data on the N (nitrogen) budgets for the site. Plants capable of nitrogen fixation usually had higher % N and lower \\delta15N signatures than their non-nitrogen-fixing counterparts. Most species had isotopically enriched signatures relative to the standard, which was air. The mean enrichments for the legumes varied from -1.76 to 3.32%, while that of the non-legumes ranged from 3.02 to 7.08%. In the herbaceous layer, Stylosanthes fruticosa and Macrotyloma maranguense had the highest fixation rates, with 84% and 41% being contributed by each species respectively (4.9 - 6.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1 is fixed in this layer). Since these species occurred in dense patches at the broad-leafed site, it was assumed that this was the contribution of N2 fixation to this savanna. The dominant N2 fixing tree was Acacia nilotica, with 50 % of its N being fixed. Trees at the fine-leafed site fixed between 2.9 - 5.5 kg N ha-1 yr-1, while herbaceous legumes contributed 4.9 - 6.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1. Nitrogen mineralisation is seasonal, with particularly high rates of mineralisation in spring. In winter, NH4+ dominates at the fine-leafed site, when it is scarcely detectable at the broad-leafed site. On the other hand, nitrate prevails in summer at the fine-leafed site, while it is being immobilised at the broad-leafed site. In contrast to another South African savanna, NH4+ is detected in large quantities (0.85 μ g N g-1 dry soil day-1) at both sites during summer. The nitrification rates are

  2. Proboscidean mitogenomics: chronology and mode of elephant evolution using mastodon as outgroup.

    PubMed

    Rohland, Nadin; Malaspinas, Anna-Sapfo; Pollack, Joshua L; Slatkin, Montgomery; Matheus, Paul; Hofreiter, Michael

    2007-08-01

    We have sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of the extinct American mastodon (Mammut americanum) from an Alaskan fossil that is between 50,000 and 130,000 y old, extending the age range of genomic analyses by almost a complete glacial cycle. The sequence we obtained is substantially different from previously reported partial mastodon mitochondrial DNA sequences. By comparing those partial sequences to other proboscidean sequences, we conclude that we have obtained the first sequence of mastodon DNA ever reported. Using the sequence of the mastodon, which diverged 24-28 million years ago (mya) from the Elephantidae lineage, as an outgroup, we infer that the ancestors of African elephants diverged from the lineage leading to mammoths and Asian elephants approximately 7.6 mya and that mammoths and Asian elephants diverged approximately 6.7 mya. We also conclude that the nuclear genomes of the African savannah and forest elephants diverged approximately 4.0 mya, supporting the view that these two groups represent different species. Finally, we found the mitochondrial mutation rate of proboscideans to be roughly half of the rate in primates during at least the last 24 million years.

  3. Proboscidean mitogenomics: chronology and mode of elephant evolution using mastodon as outgroup.

    PubMed

    Rohland, Nadin; Malaspinas, Anna-Sapfo; Pollack, Joshua L; Slatkin, Montgomery; Matheus, Paul; Hofreiter, Michael

    2007-08-01

    We have sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of the extinct American mastodon (Mammut americanum) from an Alaskan fossil that is between 50,000 and 130,000 y old, extending the age range of genomic analyses by almost a complete glacial cycle. The sequence we obtained is substantially different from previously reported partial mastodon mitochondrial DNA sequences. By comparing those partial sequences to other proboscidean sequences, we conclude that we have obtained the first sequence of mastodon DNA ever reported. Using the sequence of the mastodon, which diverged 24-28 million years ago (mya) from the Elephantidae lineage, as an outgroup, we infer that the ancestors of African elephants diverged from the lineage leading to mammoths and Asian elephants approximately 7.6 mya and that mammoths and Asian elephants diverged approximately 6.7 mya. We also conclude that the nuclear genomes of the African savannah and forest elephants diverged approximately 4.0 mya, supporting the view that these two groups represent different species. Finally, we found the mitochondrial mutation rate of proboscideans to be roughly half of the rate in primates during at least the last 24 million years. PMID:17676977

  4. Simultaneous Visual Discrimination In Asian Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Nissani, Moti; Hoefler-Nissani, Donna; Lay, U Tin; Htun, U Wan

    2005-01-01

    Two experiments explored the behavior of 20 Asian elephants (Elephas aximus) in simultaneous visual discrimination tasks. In Experiment 1, 7 Burmese logging elephants acquired a white+/black− discrimination, reaching criterion in a mean of 2.6 sessions and 117 discrete trials, whereas 4 elephants acquired a black+/white− discrimination in 5.3 sessions and 293 trials. One elephant failed to reach criterion in the white+/black− task in 9 sessions and 549 trials, and 2 elephants failed to reach criterion in the black+/white− task in 9 sessions and 452 trials. In Experiment 2, 3 elephants learned a large/small transposition problem, reaching criterion within a mean of 1.7 sessions and 58 trials. Four elephants failed to reach criterion in 4.8 sessions and 193 trials. Data from both the black/ white and large/small discriminations showed a surprising age effect, suggesting that elephants beyond the age of 20 to 30 years either may be unable to acquire these visual discriminations or may require an inordinate number of trials to do so. Overall, our results cannot be readily reconciled with the widespread view that elephants possess exceptional intelligence. PMID:15762378

  5. Carbon balance of grazed savanna grassland ecosystem in Welgegund, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Räsänen, Matti; Aurela, Mika; Vakkari, Ville; Beukes, Paul; Van Zyl, Pieter; Josipovic, Micky; Venter, Andrew; Jaars, Kerneels; Siebert, Stefan; Laurila, Tuomas; Tuovinen, Juha-Pekka; Rinne, Janne; Laakso, Lauri

    2016-04-01

    Tropical savannas and grasslands are estimated to contribute significantly to the global primary production of all terrestrial vegetation. It is suggested that semi-arid ecosystems dominate the inter-annual variation of the global land carbon sink. Most of the previous carbon flux measurements of African savannas have focused on the areas around national parks or nature reserves. However, large parts of African savannas and grasslands are used for agriculture or cattle grazing and there is a lack of measurements from these areas. In this study, we present carbon dioxide fluxes measured with the eddy covariance method for three years at a grazed savanna grassland in South Africa. The tree cover around the Welgegund measurement site (26°34'10"S, 26°56'21"E, 1480 m.a.s.l.; www.welgegund.org) was around 15% and it was grazed by cattle and sheep. Weekly monitoring of the measurements produced high quality flux measurements and only 33% of the measured flux values were missing or discarded due to e.g. too small turbulence. The inter-annual variation of yearly carbon balance was high. The carbon balance for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were -73, 82 and 167 gC m-2 y-1, respectively. The yearly variation in GPP and respiration followed the changes in precipitation, whereas the yearly variation in NEE was not explained by the changes in annual precipitation, the length of rainy season or peak NDVI. However, the number of days when soil was wet, seems to relate to the annual sum of NEE.

  6. The Role of Remote Sensing for Sustainable Elephant Management in South Africa. Four Medium Sized Game Reserves as Case Studies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jordaan, M.

    2012-07-01

    Loxodonta africana (African Elephant) are running out of living space so the protection of what space they have is essential. Existing areas of suitable elephant habitat need to be protected not only from human development but from the elephants themselves. As most elephant populations in South Africa are enclosed and multiplying, there is some increasing cause for concern as the damage caused will escalate and could reach unsustainable proportions. This study examined the utilization of satellite images for the detection of elephant induced ecosystem modification. A pilot study was conducted on four medium sized Game Reserves (each ±30 000 ha) in South Africa. The aim was to ascertain the feasibility of using image analysis as instrument by which Game Reserve managers could assess biodiversity richness, habitat loss, and population-habitat viability. NDVI as indicator of primary production in vegetation is one of the instruments used to evaluate whether the carrying capacity for elephants of each Game Reserve has been reached and to compare the current biomass with those of previous years. The study also looked at the use of the woody canopy cover as target for change detection analysis. Spectral characteristics of specific trees species which are known for being preferred by elephants were used to conduct a temporal analysis on satellite images starting from the period when the elephants were re-introduced into each Game Reserve, thus attempting to identify possible impact on the biodiversity of the respective Game Reserves. Images from satellites such as Landsat, SPOT, Quickbird and SumbandilaSAT provided the needed data and maps.

  7. Tuberculosis in Elephants: Antibody Responses to Defined Antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Potential for Early Diagnosis, and Monitoring of Treatment

    PubMed Central

    Lyashchenko, Konstantin P.; Greenwald, Rena; Esfandiari, Javan; Olsen, John H.; Ball, Ray; Dumonceaux, Genevieve; Dunker, Freeland; Buckley, Carol; Richard, Michael; Murray, Suzan; Payeur, Janet B.; Andersen, Peter; Pollock, John M.; Mikota, Susan; Miller, Michele; Sofranko, Denise; Waters, W. Ray

    2006-01-01

    Tuberculosis (TB) in elephants is a re-emerging zoonotic disease caused primarily by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Current diagnosis relies on trunk wash culture, the only officially recognized test, which has serious limitations. Innovative and efficient diagnostic methods are urgently needed. Rapid identification of infected animals is a crucial prerequisite for more effective control of TB, as early diagnosis allows timely initiation of chemotherapy. Serology has diagnostic potential, although key antigens have not been identified and optimal immunoassay formats are not established. To characterize the humoral responses in elephant TB, we tested 143 serum samples collected from 15 elephants over time. These included 48 samples from five culture-confirmed TB cases, of which four were in Asian elephants infected with M. tuberculosis and one was in an African elephant with Mycobacterium bovis. Multiantigen print immunoassay (MAPIA) employing a panel of 12 defined antigens was used to identify serologic correlates of active disease. ESAT-6 was the immunodominant antigen recognized in elephant TB. Serum immunoglobulin G antibodies to ESAT-6 and other proteins were detected up to 3.5 years prior to culture of M. tuberculosis from trunk washes. Antibody levels to certain antigens gradually decreased in response to antitubercular therapy, suggesting the possibility of treatment monitoring. In addition to MAPIA, serum samples were evaluated with a recently developed rapid test (RT) based on lateral flow technology (ElephantTB STAT-PAK). Similarly to MAPIA, infected elephants were identified using the RT up to 4 years prior to positive culture. These findings demonstrate the potential for TB surveillance and treatment monitoring using the RT and MAPIA, respectively. PMID:16829608

  8. Savanna Tree Seedlings are Physiologically Tolerant to Nighttime Freeze Events

    PubMed Central

    O’Keefe, Kimberly; Nippert, Jesse B.; Swemmer, Anthony M.

    2016-01-01

    Freeze events can be important disturbances in savanna ecosystems, yet the interactive effect of freezing with other environmental drivers on plant functioning is unknown. Here, we investigated physiological responses of South African tree seedlings to interactions of water availability and freezing temperatures. We grew widely distributed South African tree species (Colophospermum mopane, Combretum apiculatum, Acacia nigrescens, and Cassia abbreviata) under well-watered and water-limited conditions and exposed individuals to nighttime freeze events. Of the four species studied here, C. mopane was the most tolerant of lower water availability. However, all species were similarly tolerant to nighttime freezing and recovered within one week following the last freezing event. We also show that water limitation somewhat increased freezing tolerance in one of the species (C. mopane). Therefore, water limitation, but not freezing temperatures, may restrict the distribution of these species, although the interactions of these stressors may have species-specific impacts on plant physiology. Ultimately, we show that unique physiologies can exist among dominant species within communities and that combined stresses may play a currently unidentified role in driving the function of certain species within southern Africa. PMID:26870065

  9. Savanna Tree Seedlings are Physiologically Tolerant to Nighttime Freeze Events.

    PubMed

    O'Keefe, Kimberly; Nippert, Jesse B; Swemmer, Anthony M

    2016-01-01

    Freeze events can be important disturbances in savanna ecosystems, yet the interactive effect of freezing with other environmental drivers on plant functioning is unknown. Here, we investigated physiological responses of South African tree seedlings to interactions of water availability and freezing temperatures. We grew widely distributed South African tree species (Colophospermum mopane, Combretum apiculatum, Acacia nigrescens, and Cassia abbreviata) under well-watered and water-limited conditions and exposed individuals to nighttime freeze events. Of the four species studied here, C. mopane was the most tolerant of lower water availability. However, all species were similarly tolerant to nighttime freezing and recovered within one week following the last freezing event. We also show that water limitation somewhat increased freezing tolerance in one of the species (C. mopane). Therefore, water limitation, but not freezing temperatures, may restrict the distribution of these species, although the interactions of these stressors may have species-specific impacts on plant physiology. Ultimately, we show that unique physiologies can exist among dominant species within communities and that combined stresses may play a currently unidentified role in driving the function of certain species within southern Africa. PMID:26870065

  10. Elephants: Big, Strong and Wise. Young Discovery Library Series.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Pfeffer, Pierre

    This book is written for children ages 5 through 10. Part of a series designed to develop their curiosity, fascinate them and educate them, this volume examines the characteristics and natural history of elephants. Topics included are: (1) elephant's ancestors; (2) elephant life; and (3) training elephants for work. Quiz items are included. (YP)

  11. Determining Connections between the Daily Lives of Zoo Elephants and Their Welfare: An Epidemiological Approach.

    PubMed

    Meehan, Cheryl L; Mench, Joy A; Carlstead, Kathy; Hogan, Jennifer N

    2016-01-01

    Concerns about animal welfare increasingly shape people's views about the acceptability of keeping animals for food production, biomedical research, and in zoos. The field of animal welfare science has developed over the past 50 years as a method of investigating these concerns via research that assesses how living in human-controlled environments influences the behavior, health and affective states of animals. Initially, animal welfare research focused on animals in agricultural settings, but the field has expanded to zoos because good animal welfare is essential to zoos' mission of promoting connections between animals and visitors and raising awareness of conservation issues. A particular challenge for zoos is ensuring good animal welfare for long-lived, highly social species like elephants. Our main goal in conducting an epidemiological study of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephant welfare in 68 accredited North American zoos was to understand the prevalence of welfare indicators in the population and determine the aspects of an elephant's zoo environment, social life and management that are most important to prevent and reduce a variety of welfare problems. In this overview, we provide a summary of the findings of the nine papers in the collection titled: Epidemiological Investigations of North American Zoo Elephant Welfare with a focus on the life history, social, housing, and management factors found to be associated with particular aspects of elephant welfare, including the performance of abnormal behavior, foot and joint problems, recumbence, walking rates, and reproductive health issues. Social and management factors were found to be important for multiple indicators of welfare, while exhibit space was found to be less influential than expected. This body of work results from the largest prospective zoo-based animal welfare study conducted to date and sets in motion the process of using science-based welfare benchmarks to

  12. Determining Connections between the Daily Lives of Zoo Elephants and Their Welfare: An Epidemiological Approach.

    PubMed

    Meehan, Cheryl L; Mench, Joy A; Carlstead, Kathy; Hogan, Jennifer N

    2016-01-01

    Concerns about animal welfare increasingly shape people's views about the acceptability of keeping animals for food production, biomedical research, and in zoos. The field of animal welfare science has developed over the past 50 years as a method of investigating these concerns via research that assesses how living in human-controlled environments influences the behavior, health and affective states of animals. Initially, animal welfare research focused on animals in agricultural settings, but the field has expanded to zoos because good animal welfare is essential to zoos' mission of promoting connections between animals and visitors and raising awareness of conservation issues. A particular challenge for zoos is ensuring good animal welfare for long-lived, highly social species like elephants. Our main goal in conducting an epidemiological study of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephant welfare in 68 accredited North American zoos was to understand the prevalence of welfare indicators in the population and determine the aspects of an elephant's zoo environment, social life and management that are most important to prevent and reduce a variety of welfare problems. In this overview, we provide a summary of the findings of the nine papers in the collection titled: Epidemiological Investigations of North American Zoo Elephant Welfare with a focus on the life history, social, housing, and management factors found to be associated with particular aspects of elephant welfare, including the performance of abnormal behavior, foot and joint problems, recumbence, walking rates, and reproductive health issues. Social and management factors were found to be important for multiple indicators of welfare, while exhibit space was found to be less influential than expected. This body of work results from the largest prospective zoo-based animal welfare study conducted to date and sets in motion the process of using science-based welfare benchmarks to

  13. The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing since 1880

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Myers, David Gershom

    2006-01-01

    When Vladimir Nabokov was up for a chair in literature at Harvard, the linguist Roman Jakobson protested: "What's next? Shall we appoint elephants to teach zoology?" That anecdote, with which D. G. Myers begins "The Elephants Teach", perfectly frames the issues this book tackles. Myers explores more than a century of debate over how writing should…

  14. The distribution, density and three-dimensional histomorphology of Pacinian corpuscles in the foot of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and their potential role in seismic communication.

    PubMed

    Bouley, D M; Alarcón, C N; Hildebrandt, T; O'Connell-Rodwell, C E

    2007-10-01

    Both Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants produce low-frequency, high-amplitude rumbles that travel well through the ground as seismic waves, and field studies have shown that elephants may utilize these seismic signals as one form of communication. Unique elephant postures observed in field studies suggest that the elephants use their feet to 'listen' to these seismic signals, but the exact sensory mechanisms used by the elephant have never been characterized. The distribution, morphology and tissue density of Pacinian corpuscles, specialized mechanoreceptors, were studied in a forefoot and hindfoot of Asian elephants. Pacinian corpuscles were located in the dermis and distal digital cushion and were most densely localized to the anterior, posterior, medial and lateral region of each foot, with the highest numbers in the anterior region of the forefoot (52.19%) and the posterior region of the hindfoot (47.09%). Pacinian corpuscles were encapsulated, had a typical lamellar structure and were most often observed in large clusters. Three-dimensional reconstruction through serial sections of the dermis revealed that individual Pacinian corpuscles may be part of a cluster. By studying the distribution and density of these mechanoreceptors, we propose that Pacinian corpuscles are one possible anatomic mechanism used by elephants to detect seismic waves.

  15. Observation of a Rayleigh Wave Induced by Infrasonic Elephant Vocalizations: a Possible Communication Mode?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gunther, R.; O'Connell-Rodwell, C. E.; Klemperer, S.; Rodwell, T. C.; Haines, S.; Goldman, M.; Evans, J. R.

    2003-12-01

    experiments, the amplitudes of both the elephant-coupled Rayleigh wave and the elephant-driven airwave had decayed to almost ambient noise levels at the end of our 168-m-long recording spread. This was most likely due to the high ambient-noise levels during our experiment. Free-ranging African elephants have been shown to respond to low-frequency calls of other elephants at ranges of 2 km with an ideal outer limit of 10 km. Because a surface wave decays at only 1/r, we speculate that wild elephants may detect the Rayleigh waves of other elephants via bone conduction or somatosensory reception or both, and hence may communicate at greater distances than possible using infrasonic calls transmitted through the atmosphere.

  16. Precipitation chemistry and wet deposition in a remote wet savanna site in West Africa: Djougou (Benin)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Akpo, A. B.; Galy-Lacaux, C.; Laouali, D.; Delon, C.; Liousse, C.; Adon, M.; Gardrat, E.; Mariscal, A.; Darakpa, C.

    2015-08-01

    In the framework of the IDAF (IGAC/DEBITS/AFrica) international program, this study aims to study the chemical composition of precipitation and associated wet deposition at the rural site of Djougou in Benin, representative of a West and Central African wet savanna. Five hundred and thirty rainfall samples were collected at Djougou, Benin, from July 2005 to December 2009 to provide a unique database. The chemical composition of precipitation was analyzed for inorganic (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, NH4+, K+, NO3-, Cl-, SO42-) and organic (HCOO-, CH3COO-, C2H5COO-, C2O42-) ions, using ion chromatography. The 530 collected rain events represent a total of 5706.1 mm of rainfall compared to the measured pluviometry 6138.9 mm, indicating that the collection efficiency is about 93%. The order of total annual loading rates for soluble cations is NH4+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+. For soluble anions the order of loading is carbonates > HCOO- > NO3- > CH3COO- > SO4,SUP>2- > Cl- > C2O42- > C2H5COO-. In the wet savanna of Djougou, 86% of the measured pH values range between 4.7 and 5.7 with a median pH of 5.19, corresponding to a VWM (Volume Weighed Mean) H+ concentration of 6.46 μeq·L-1. This acidity results from a mixture of mineral and organic acids. The annual sea salt contribution was computed for K+, Mg2+, Ca2+ and SO42- and represents 4.2% of K+, 41% of Mg2+, 1.3% of Ca2+, and 7.4% of SO42-. These results show that K+, Ca2+, SO42-, and Mg2+ were mainly of non-marine origin. The marine contribution is estimated at 9%. The results of the chemical composition of rainwater of Djougou indicates that, except for the carbonates, ammonium has the highest VWM concentration (14.3 μeq·L-1) and nitrate concentration is 8.2 μeq·L-1. The distribution of monthly VWM concentration for all ions is computed and shows the highest values during the dry season, comparing to the wet season. Identified nitrogenous compound sources (NOx and NH3) are domestic animals, natural emissions from savanna soils

  17. Acute phase protein expression during elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus-1 viremia in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Stanton, Jeffrey J; Cray, Carolyn; Rodriguez, Marilyn; Arheart, Kristopher L; Ling, Paul D; Herron, Alan

    2013-09-01

    Infection of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can be associated with rapid, lethal hemorrhagic disease and has been documented in elephant herds in human care and in the wild. Recent reports describe real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays used to monitor clinically ill elephants and also to detect subclinical EEHV1 infection in apparently healthy Asian elephants. Acute phase proteins have been demonstrated to increase with a variety of infectious etiologies in domesticated mammals but have not yet been described in elephants. In addition, the immune response of Asian elephants to EEHV1 infection has not been described. In this study, whole blood and trunk wash samples representing repeated measures from eight elephants were examined for the presence of EEHV1 using a qPCR assay. Elephants were classified into groups, as follows: whole blood negative and positive and trunk wash negative and positive. Serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin (HP) levels were compared between these groups. A significant difference in SAA was observed with nearly a threefold higher mean value during periods of viremia (P=0.011). Higher values of SAA were associated with >10,000 virus genome copies/ml EEHV1 in whole blood. There were no significant differences in HP levels, although some individual animals did exhibit increased levels with infection. These data indicate that an inflammatory process is stimulated during EEHV1 viremia. Acute phase protein quantitation may aid in monitoring the health status of Asian elephants.

  18. Acute phase protein expression during elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus-1 viremia in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Stanton, Jeffrey J; Cray, Carolyn; Rodriguez, Marilyn; Arheart, Kristopher L; Ling, Paul D; Herron, Alan

    2013-09-01

    Infection of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can be associated with rapid, lethal hemorrhagic disease and has been documented in elephant herds in human care and in the wild. Recent reports describe real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays used to monitor clinically ill elephants and also to detect subclinical EEHV1 infection in apparently healthy Asian elephants. Acute phase proteins have been demonstrated to increase with a variety of infectious etiologies in domesticated mammals but have not yet been described in elephants. In addition, the immune response of Asian elephants to EEHV1 infection has not been described. In this study, whole blood and trunk wash samples representing repeated measures from eight elephants were examined for the presence of EEHV1 using a qPCR assay. Elephants were classified into groups, as follows: whole blood negative and positive and trunk wash negative and positive. Serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin (HP) levels were compared between these groups. A significant difference in SAA was observed with nearly a threefold higher mean value during periods of viremia (P=0.011). Higher values of SAA were associated with >10,000 virus genome copies/ml EEHV1 in whole blood. There were no significant differences in HP levels, although some individual animals did exhibit increased levels with infection. These data indicate that an inflammatory process is stimulated during EEHV1 viremia. Acute phase protein quantitation may aid in monitoring the health status of Asian elephants. PMID:24063088

  19. Elephant Transcriptome Provides Insights into the Evolution of Eutherian Placentation

    PubMed Central

    Hou, Zhuo-Cheng; Sterner, Kirstin N.; Romero, Roberto; Than, Nandor Gabor; Gonzalez, Juan M.; Weckle, Amy; Xing, Jun; Benirschke, Kurt; Goodman, Morris; Wildman, Derek E.

    2012-01-01

    The chorioallantoic placenta connects mother and fetus in eutherian pregnancies. In order to understand the evolution of the placenta and provide further understanding of placenta biology, we sequenced the transcriptome of a term placenta of an African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and compared these data with RNA sequence and microarray data from other eutherian placentas including human, mouse, and cow. We characterized the composition of 55,910 expressed sequence tag (i.e., cDNA) contigs using our custom annotation pipeline. A Markov algorithm was used to cluster orthologs of human, mouse, cow, and elephant placenta transcripts. We found 2,963 genes are commonly expressed in the placentas of these eutherian mammals. Gene ontology categories previously suggested to be important for placenta function (e.g., estrogen receptor signaling pathway, cell motion and migration, and adherens junctions) were significantly enriched in these eutherian placenta–expressed genes. Genes duplicated in different lineages and also specifically expressed in the placenta contribute to the great diversity observed in mammalian placenta anatomy. We identified 1,365 human lineage–specific, 1,235 mouse lineage–specific, 436 cow lineage–specific, and 904 elephant-specific placenta-expressed (PE) genes. The most enriched clusters of human-specific PE genes are signal/glycoprotein and immunoglobulin, and humans possess a deeply invasive human hemochorial placenta that comes into direct contact with maternal immune cells. Inference of phylogenetically conserved and derived transcripts demonstrates the power of comparative transcriptomics to trace placenta evolution and variation across mammals and identified candidate genes that may be important in the normal function of the human placenta, and their dysfunction may be related to human pregnancy complications. PMID:22546564

  20. Effects of social disruption in elephants persist decades after culling

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Multi-level fission-fusion societies, characteristic of a number of large brained mammal species including some primates, cetaceans and elephants, are among the most complex and cognitively demanding animal social systems. Many free-ranging populations of these highly social mammals already face severe human disturbance, which is set to accelerate with projected anthropogenic environmental change. Despite this, our understanding of how such disruption affects core aspects of social functioning is still very limited. Results We now use novel playback experiments to assess decision-making abilities integral to operating successfully within complex societies, and provide the first systematic evidence that fundamental social skills may be significantly impaired by anthropogenic disruption. African elephants (Loxodonta africana) that had experienced separation from family members and translocation during culling operations decades previously performed poorly on systematic tests of their social knowledge, failing to distinguish between callers on the basis of social familiarity. Moreover, elephants from the disrupted population showed no evidence of discriminating between callers when age-related cues simulated individuals on an increasing scale of social dominance, in sharp contrast to the undisturbed population where this core social ability was well developed. Conclusions Key decision-making abilities that are fundamental to living in complex societies could be significantly altered in the long-term through exposure to severely disruptive events (e.g. culling and translocation). There is an assumption that wildlife responds to increasing pressure from human societies only in terms of demography, however our study demonstrates that the effects may be considerably more pervasive. These findings highlight the potential long-term negative consequences of acute social disruption in cognitively advanced species that live in close-knit kin-based societies, and

  1. Bud protection: a key trait for species sorting in a forest-savanna mosaic.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Beckett, Heath; Midgley, Guy F; Bond, William J

    2015-09-01

    Contrasting fire regimes maintain patch mosaics of savanna, thicket and forest biomes in many African subtropical landscapes. Species dominating each biome are thus expected to display distinct fire-related traits, commonly thought to be bark related. Recent Australian savanna research suggests that bud position, not bark protection alone, determines fire resilience via resprouting. We tested first how bud position influences resprouting ability in 17 tree species. We then compared the effect of both bark-related protection and bud position on the distribution of 63 tree species in 253 transects in all three biomes. Tree species with buds positioned deep under bark had a higher proportion of post-fire aboveground shoot resprouting. Species with low bud protection occurred in fire-prone biomes only if they could root-sucker. The effect of bud protection was supported by a good relationship between species bud protection and distribution across a gradient of fire frequency. Bud protection and high bark production are required to survive frequent fires in savanna. Forests are fire refugia hosting species with little or no bud protection and thin bark. Root-suckering species occur in the three biomes, suggesting that fire is not the only factor filtering this functional type.

  2. Savanna fire and the origins of the 'underground forests' of Africa.

    PubMed

    Maurin, Olivier; Davies, T Jonathan; Burrows, John E; Daru, Barnabas H; Yessoufou, Kowiyou; Muasya, A Muthama; van der Bank, Michelle; Bond, William J

    2014-10-01

    The origin of fire-adapted lineages is a long-standing question in ecology. Although phylogeny can provide a significant contribution to the ongoing debate, its use has been precluded by the lack of comprehensive DNA data. Here, we focus on the 'underground trees' (=geoxyles) of southern Africa, one of the most distinctive growth forms characteristic of fire-prone savannas. We placed geoxyles within the most comprehensive dated phylogeny for the regional flora comprising over 1400 woody species. Using this phylogeny, we tested whether African geoxyles evolved concomitantly with those of the South American cerrado and used their phylogenetic position to date the appearance of humid savannas. We found multiple independent origins of the geoxyle life-form mostly from the Pliocene, a period consistent with the origin of cerrado, with the majority of divergences occurring within the last 2 million yr. When contrasted with their tree relatives, geoxyles occur in regions characterized by higher rainfall and greater fire frequency. Our results indicate that the geoxylic growth form may have evolved in response to the interactive effects of frequent fires and high precipitation. As such, geoxyles may be regarded as markers of fire-maintained savannas occurring in climates suitable for forests.

  3. Bud protection: a key trait for species sorting in a forest-savanna mosaic.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Beckett, Heath; Midgley, Guy F; Bond, William J

    2015-09-01

    Contrasting fire regimes maintain patch mosaics of savanna, thicket and forest biomes in many African subtropical landscapes. Species dominating each biome are thus expected to display distinct fire-related traits, commonly thought to be bark related. Recent Australian savanna research suggests that bud position, not bark protection alone, determines fire resilience via resprouting. We tested first how bud position influences resprouting ability in 17 tree species. We then compared the effect of both bark-related protection and bud position on the distribution of 63 tree species in 253 transects in all three biomes. Tree species with buds positioned deep under bark had a higher proportion of post-fire aboveground shoot resprouting. Species with low bud protection occurred in fire-prone biomes only if they could root-sucker. The effect of bud protection was supported by a good relationship between species bud protection and distribution across a gradient of fire frequency. Bud protection and high bark production are required to survive frequent fires in savanna. Forests are fire refugia hosting species with little or no bud protection and thin bark. Root-suckering species occur in the three biomes, suggesting that fire is not the only factor filtering this functional type. PMID:25856385

  4. Diurnal and nocturnal activity budgets of zoo elephants in an outdoor facility.

    PubMed

    Horback, Kristina M; Miller, Lance J; Andrews, Jeff R M; Kuczaj, Stan A

    2014-01-01

    The present study examined the activity budgets of 15 African elephants (1 bull, 6 cows, 2 male juveniles, 2 female juveniles, and 4 male calves) living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Onsite behavioral data (n = 600 hr) were collected for approximately 12 weeks from 0400 to 0830 and 1100 to 2400 during the 2010 and 2011 summer season. Foraging was the most common behavior state during the day followed by resting, and walking. During the evening hours, the elephants spent majority of their time foraging, resting, and sleeping. The average rate of self-maintenance behavior events (dust, wallow, etc.) increased from 0600 to 0700, 1100 to 1500, and from 1700 to 1900. Positive social behavior events (touch other, play, etc.) remained high from 0500 to 2300, with peaks at 0600, 1300, 1500, and 1900. Negative social events occurred at low rates throughout the day and night, with peaks at 0600, 1900, and 2200. The majority of positive behavior events during the daylight and nighttime hours involved the mother-calf pairs. Furthermore, the calves and juveniles initiated approximately 60% of all social events during the daytime and 57% of all social interactions at night. The results of this study demonstrate the differences between diurnal and nocturnal activity budgets of a multi-age and sex elephant herd in a zoological facility, which highlights the importance of managing elephants to meet their 24 hr behavioral needs.

  5. Assisted reproduction in female rhinoceros and elephants--current status and future perspective.

    PubMed

    Hermes, R; Göritz, F; Streich, Wj; Hildebrandt, Tb

    2007-09-01

    Over the last few decades, rhinoceroses and elephants became important icons in the saga of wildlife conservation. Recent surveys estimate the wild Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephant populations to be, at most, 50 250 and 637 600 respectively. For the five rhinoceros species, black (Diceros bicornis), white (Ceratotherium simum), Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis), Javan (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis), the population estimates of 3610, 11 330, 2400, 60 and 300, respectively, are of even greater concern. Protected against habitat loss, poaching and left undisturbed, rhinoceros and elephants reproduce well in the wild. But small and decreasing populations make successful captive management of these taxa increasingly important. In captivity, however, most populations face possible 'extinction' because of historically poor reproductive performance. From the first descriptions of the reproductive anatomy and the oestrous cycle (Laws 1969; Kassam and Lasley 1981; Balke et al. 1988a,b; Plotka et al. 1988; Godfrey et al. 1991) to the present use of advanced assisted reproduction technologies, researchers have strive to understand the function and dysfunction of the reproductive biology of these charismatic species. This paper reviewed the current knowledge on rhinoceros and elephant reproduction biology, reproductive cycle, gestation, dystocia, reproductive pathology, oestrous induction and artificial insemination, sperm sexing, IVF and contraception, and how this knowledge is or might be used to aid species conservation for maximal reproductive efficiency and enhancement of genetic management.

  6. Assisted reproduction in female rhinoceros and elephants--current status and future perspective.

    PubMed

    Hermes, R; Göritz, F; Streich, Wj; Hildebrandt, Tb

    2007-09-01

    Over the last few decades, rhinoceroses and elephants became important icons in the saga of wildlife conservation. Recent surveys estimate the wild Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephant populations to be, at most, 50 250 and 637 600 respectively. For the five rhinoceros species, black (Diceros bicornis), white (Ceratotherium simum), Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis), Javan (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis), the population estimates of 3610, 11 330, 2400, 60 and 300, respectively, are of even greater concern. Protected against habitat loss, poaching and left undisturbed, rhinoceros and elephants reproduce well in the wild. But small and decreasing populations make successful captive management of these taxa increasingly important. In captivity, however, most populations face possible 'extinction' because of historically poor reproductive performance. From the first descriptions of the reproductive anatomy and the oestrous cycle (Laws 1969; Kassam and Lasley 1981; Balke et al. 1988a,b; Plotka et al. 1988; Godfrey et al. 1991) to the present use of advanced assisted reproduction technologies, researchers have strive to understand the function and dysfunction of the reproductive biology of these charismatic species. This paper reviewed the current knowledge on rhinoceros and elephant reproduction biology, reproductive cycle, gestation, dystocia, reproductive pathology, oestrous induction and artificial insemination, sperm sexing, IVF and contraception, and how this knowledge is or might be used to aid species conservation for maximal reproductive efficiency and enhancement of genetic management. PMID:17688600

  7. Diurnal and nocturnal activity budgets of zoo elephants in an outdoor facility.

    PubMed

    Horback, Kristina M; Miller, Lance J; Andrews, Jeff R M; Kuczaj, Stan A

    2014-01-01

    The present study examined the activity budgets of 15 African elephants (1 bull, 6 cows, 2 male juveniles, 2 female juveniles, and 4 male calves) living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Onsite behavioral data (n = 600 hr) were collected for approximately 12 weeks from 0400 to 0830 and 1100 to 2400 during the 2010 and 2011 summer season. Foraging was the most common behavior state during the day followed by resting, and walking. During the evening hours, the elephants spent majority of their time foraging, resting, and sleeping. The average rate of self-maintenance behavior events (dust, wallow, etc.) increased from 0600 to 0700, 1100 to 1500, and from 1700 to 1900. Positive social behavior events (touch other, play, etc.) remained high from 0500 to 2300, with peaks at 0600, 1300, 1500, and 1900. Negative social events occurred at low rates throughout the day and night, with peaks at 0600, 1900, and 2200. The majority of positive behavior events during the daylight and nighttime hours involved the mother-calf pairs. Furthermore, the calves and juveniles initiated approximately 60% of all social events during the daytime and 57% of all social interactions at night. The results of this study demonstrate the differences between diurnal and nocturnal activity budgets of a multi-age and sex elephant herd in a zoological facility, which highlights the importance of managing elephants to meet their 24 hr behavioral needs. PMID:25113850

  8. Asian elephants acquire inaccessible food by blowing.

    PubMed

    Mizuno, Kaori; Irie, Naoko; Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, Mariko; Kutsukake, Nobuyuki

    2016-01-01

    Many animals acquire otherwise inaccessible food with the aid of sticks and occasionally water. As an exception, some reports suggest that elephants manipulate breathing through their trunks to acquire inaccessible food. Here, we report on two female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Kamine Zoo, Japan, who regularly blew to drive food within their reach. We experimentally investigated this behaviour by placing foods in inaccessible places. The elephants blew the food until it came within accessible range. Once the food was within range, the elephants were increasingly less likely to blow as the distance to the food became shorter. One subject manipulated her blowing duration based on food distance: longer when the food was distant. These results suggest that the elephants used their breath to achieve goals: that is, they used it not