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Sample records for african savanna elephants

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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. PMID:26056902

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. Reconciling Apparent Conflicts between Mitochondrial and Nuclear Phylogenies in African Elephants

    PubMed Central

    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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Meteorological Controls on the Infrasonic Communication of the African Elephant

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Larom, David Lee

    Vertical atmospheric temperature and wind gradients exert a marked influence on sound propagation at the infrasonic frequencies used by the African elephant for long-distance communication. Tethered balloon profiles taken at Okaukuejo, Namibia, in the Etosha National Park, are used as input to a computer model of atmospheric sound propagation. The results show that high daytime temperature lapse rates can restrict the calling area A to as little as 20 km ^2. With the formation of the regularly occurring low-level nocturnal radiative temperature inversion, A can expand rapidly to 300 km^2 or more. Calling range commonly triples from one hour before to one hour after sunset. The formation of a nocturnal low level jet reduces calling area after 2200 hours; wind shear makes propagation strongly directional, with enhancement downwind and degradation upwind. The early evening is therefore the optimum calling time at Etosha, with a secondary maximum before dawn. Different topography may lead to a dawn maximum in other parts of the African savannas. Synoptic weather patterns and seasonal change can enhance or dampen the diurnal cycle in calling area. These results explain important facets of elephant behavior, and may contribute to the understanding of territoriality by giving a physical explanation for the evening and dawn chorus in birdsong and animal calls.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. Exploratory rigid laparoscopy in an African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Sweet, Julia; Hendrickson, Dean A; Stetter, Mark; Neiffer, Donald L

    2014-12-01

    In March 2009, a 25-yr-old captive female African elephant (Loxodonta africana) underwent an exploratory laparoscopy after several weeks of diarrhea, submandibular and ventral edema, and swelling on medial and lateral aspects of all feet. Although there have been recent advances in laparoscopic vasectomies in free-ranging African elephants in South Africa utilizing specially designed rigid laparoscopes and insufflation devices, this was the first attempt at using these same techniques for an exploratory purpose. The elephant was sedated in a static restraint chute and remained standing for the duration of the procedure. Laparoscopy provided visibility of the dorsal abdomen, enabled collection of reproductive tract biopsies and peritoneal fluid samples, and allowed for instillation of antibiotics and crystalloid fluids directly into the abdominal cavity. Abdominal exploration, collection of tissue samples, and local therapy is possible via standing laparoscopy in megavertebrates. PMID:25632688

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. North African savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Iacobellis, Sam F.; Frouin, Robert; Razafimpanilo, Herisoa; Somerville, Richard C. J.; Piper, Stephen C.

    1994-01-01

    The effect of north African savanna fires on atmospheric CO2 is investigated using a tracer transport model. The model uses winds from operational numerical weather prediction analyses and provides CO2 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 CO2 sources. The various model experiments show that biomass burning in the north African savannas significantly affects CO2 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 CO2 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 CO2 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 CO2 concentration increase at 970 mbar. At higher levels in the atmosphere, less CO2 emitted by north African savanna fires reaches South America, and at 100 mbar no significant amount of CO2 is transported across the Atlantic Ocean. The vertical

  2. 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. PMID:24942107

  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

    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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Positive and negative effects of grass, cattle, and wild herbivores on Acacia saplings in an East African savanna.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2007-10-01

    Plant-plant interactions can be a complex mixture of positive and negative interactions, with the net outcome depending on abiotic and community contexts. In savanna systems, the effects of large herbivores on tree-grass interactions have rarely been studied experimentally, though these herbivores are major players in these systems. In African savannas, trees often become more abundant under heavy cattle grazing but less abundant in wildlife preserves. Woody encroachment where cattle have replaced wild herbivores may be caused by a shift in the competitive balance between trees and grasses. Here we report the results of an experiment designed to quantify the positive, negative, and net effects of grasses, wild herbivores, and cattle on Acacia saplings in a Kenyan savanna. Acacia drepanolobium saplings under four long-term herbivore regimes (wild herbivores, cattle, cattle + wild herbivores, and no large herbivores) were cleared of surrounding grass or left with the surrounding grass intact. After two years, grass-removal saplings exhibited 86% more browse damage than control saplings, suggesting that grass benefited saplings by protecting them from herbivory. However, the negative effect of grass on saplings was far greater; grass-removal trees accrued more than twice the total stem length of control trees. Where wild herbivores were present, saplings were browsed more and produced more new stem growth. Thus, the net effect of wild herbivores was positive, possibly due to the indirect effects of lower competitor tree density in areas accessible to elephants. Additionally, colonization of saplings by symbiotic ants tracked growth patterns, and colonized saplings experienced lower rates of browse damage. These results suggest that savanna tree growth and woody encroachment cannot be predicted by grass cover or herbivore type alone. Rather, tree growth appears to depend on a variety of factors that may be acting together or antagonistically at different stages of the

  14. Luteal maintenance of pregnancy in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Stansfield, F J; Allen, W R

    2012-06-01

    The ovaries of eight African elephant foetuses and their mothers between 2 and 22 months of gestation, and those of two cycling and two lactating elephants, were examined grossly, histologically and immunocytochemically, with emphasis on the development and regression of accessory corpora lutea (CL) of pregnancy and the steroidogenic capacities of the accessory CL and the foetal ovaries. The results supported recent findings that the accessory CL form as a result of luteinisation, with and without ovulation, of medium-sized follicles during the 3-week inter-luteal period of the oestrous cycle. They enlarge significantly and become steroidogenically active around 5 weeks of gestation, probably in response to the placental lactogen which is secreted by the implanting trophoblast of the conceptus. The large luteal cells stained strongly for 3β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD) activity throughout the 22-month gestation period although they showed vacuolation and other degenerative changes in the final months of gestation coincident with hypertrophy and hyperplasia of 3βHSD-positive interstitial cells in the foetal gonads. It is proposed that the progestagens secreted by the enlarged gonads of the elephant foetus may function both to assist the maternal ovaries in supporting the pregnancy state and to induce torpor and intrauterine immobility of the rapidly growing foetus. PMID:22457432

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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. PMID:23405121

  18. Ticks of four-toed elephant shrews and Southern African hedgehogs.

    PubMed

    Horak, Ivan G; Welman, Shaun; Hallam, Stacey L; Lutermann, Heike; Mzilikazi, Nomakwezi

    2011-01-01

    Several studies on ticks infesting small mammals, including elephant shrews, have been conducted in South Africa; however, these studies have included only a single four-toed elephant shrew and no hedgehogs. This study thus aimed to identify and quantify the ixodid ticks infesting four-toed elephant shrews and Southern African hedgehogs. Four-toed elephant shrews (Petrodromus tetradactylus) were trapped in dense shrub undergrowth in a nature reserve in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. They were separately housed, first in cages and later in glass terraria fitted with wire-mesh bases to allow detached ticks to fall through for collection. Southern African hedgehogs (Atelerix frontalis) were hand caught on a farm in the eastern region of the Northern Cape Province and all visible ticks were collected by means of tweezers while the animals were anaesthetised. The ticks from each animal were preserved separately in 70% ethanol for later identification and counting. The immature stages of five ixodid tick species were collected from the elephant shrews, of which Rhipicephalus muehlensi was the most common. It has not been recorded previously on any species of elephant shrew. Three ixodid tick species were collected from the hedgehogs. Large numbers of adult Haemaphysalis colesbergensis, which has not been encountered previously on hedgehogs, were collected from these animals. Four-toed elephant shrews are good hosts of the larvae and nymphs of R. muehlensi, and Southern African hedgehogs are good hosts of adult H. colesbergensis. PMID:23327207

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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. PMID:22740536

  2. 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. PMID:22298853

  3. Isotopic tracking of change in diet and habitat use in african elephants.

    PubMed

    Koch, P L; Heisinger, J; Moss, C; Carlson, R W; Fogel, M L; Behrensmeyer, A K

    1995-03-01

    The carbon, nitrogen, and strontium isotope compositions of elephants in Amboseli Park, Kenya, were measured to examine changes in diet and habitat use since the 1960s. Carbon isotope ratios, which reflect the photosynthetic pathway of food plants, record a shift in diet from trees and shrubs to grass. Strontium isotope ratios, which reflect the geologic age of bedrock, document the concentration of elephants within the park. The high isotopic variability produced by behavioral and ecological shifts, if it is representative of other East African elephant populations, may complicate the use of isotopes as indicators of the source region of ivory. PMID:17812610

  4. Elephant low-frequency vocalizations propagate in the ground and seismic playbacks of these vocalizations are detectable by wild African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Connell-Rodwell, Caitlin E.; Wood, Jason D.; Gunther, Roland; Klemperer, Simon; Rodwell, Timothy C.; Puria, Sunil; Sapolsky, Robert; Kinzley, Colleen; Arnason, Byron T.; Hart, Lynette A.

    2001-05-01

    Seismic correlates of low-frequency vocalizations in African and Asian elephants propagate in the ground at different velocities, with the potential of traveling farther than their airborne counterparts. A semblance technique applied to linear moveouts on narrow-bandpass-filtered data, coupled with forward modeling, demonstrates that the complex waves observed are the interference of an air wave and a Rayleigh wave traveling at the appropriate velocities. The Rayleigh wave appears to be generated at or close to the elephant, either by coupling through the elephant's body or through the air near the body to the ground. Low-frequency elephant vocalizations were reproduced seismically and played back to both a captive elephant and to elephant breeding herds in the wild, monitoring the elephants' behavioral responses, spacing between herd members and time spent at the water hole as an index of heightened vigilance. Breeding herds detected and responded appropriately to seismically transmitted elephant warning calls. The captive studies promise to elucidate a vibrotactile threshold of sensitivity for the elephant foot. Elephants may benefit from the exploitation of seismic cues as an additional communication modality, thus expanding their signaling repertoire and extending their range of potential communication and eavesdropping beyond that possible with airborne sound.

  5. Birth-death branching models. Application to African elephant populations.

    PubMed

    Corbacho, Casimiro; Molina, Manuel; Mota, Manuel; Ramos, Alfonso

    2013-09-01

    Branching models have a long history of biological applications, particularly in population dynamics. In this work, our interest is the development of mathematical models to describe the demographic dynamics of socially structured animal populations, focusing our attention on lineages, usually matrilines, as the basic structure in the population. Significant efforts have been made to develop models based on the assumption that all individuals behave identically with respect to reproduction. However, the reproduction phase has a large random component that involves not only demographic but also environmental factors that change across range distribution of species. In the present work, we introduce new classes of birth-death branching models which take such factors into account. We assume that both, the offspring probability distribution and the death probabilities may be different in each generation, changing either predictably or unpredictably in relation to habitat features. We consider the genealogical tree generated by observation of the process until a pre-set generation. We determine the probability distributions of the random variables representing the number of dead or living individuals having at least one ancestor alive, living individuals whose ancestors are all dead, and dead individuals whose ancestors are all dead, explicitly obtaining their principal moments. Also, we derive the probability distributions corresponding to the partial and total numbers of such biological variables, obtaining in particular the distribution of the total number of matriarchs in the genealogical tree. We apply the proposed models to describe the demographic dynamics of African elephant populations living in different habitats. PMID:23648183

  6. 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

  7. 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. PMID:26379249

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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. PMID:23728481

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Influence of dominance status on adrenal activity and ovarian cyclicity status in captive African elephants.

    PubMed

    Proctor, Christine M; Freeman, Elizabeth W; Brown, Janine L

    2010-01-01

    The North American African (Loxodonta africana) elephant population is not self-sustaining, in part because of a high rate of abnormal ovarian activity. About 12% of adult females exhibit irregular cycles and 31% do not cycle at all. Our earlier work revealed a relationship between dominance status and ovarian acyclicity, with dominant females being more likely to not cycle normally. One theory is that dominant females may be expending more energy to maintaining peace within the captive herd than for supporting reproduction. The goal of this study was to determine if there was a relationship among dominance status, serum cortisol concentrations, and ovarian acyclicity. We hypothesized that adrenal glucocorticoid activity would be increased in dominant, noncycling elephants as compared with subdominant individuals. Blood samples were collected weekly over a 2-year period in 81 females of known dominance and cyclicity status, and analyzed for cortisol. Based on a path analysis model (Reticular Action Model Or Near Approximation [RAMONA]), noncycling, dominant African elephant females did not have higher mean serum cortisol concentrations, or exhibit more variability (i.e., coefficient of variation, standard deviation) in cortisol secretion. This study suggests that alterations in adrenal activity are not related to dominance status nor contribute directly to acyclicity in captive African elephants. PMID:20033989

  10. 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. PMID:27468011

  11. 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

  12. 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. PMID:25013015

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Paleocene emergence of elephant relatives and the rapid radiation of African ungulates

    PubMed Central

    Gheerbrant, Emmanuel

    2009-01-01

    Elephants are the only living representatives of the Proboscidea, a formerly diverse mammalian order whose history began with the 55-million years (mys) old Phosphatherium. Reported here is the discovery from the early late Paleocene of Morocco, ca. 60 mys, of the oldest and most primitive elephant relative, Eritherium azzouzorum n.g., n.sp., which is one of the earliest known representatives of modern placental orders. This well supported stem proboscidean is extraordinarily primitive and condylarth-like. It provides the first dental evidence of a resemblance between the proboscideans and African ungulates (paenungulates) on the one hand and the louisinines and early macroscelideans on the other. Eritherium illustrates the origin of the elephant order at a previously unknown primitive stage among paenungulates and “ungulates.” The primitive morphology of Eritherium suggests a recent and rapid paenungulate radiation after the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, probably favoured by early endemic African paleoecosystems. At a broader scale, Eritherium provides a new old calibration point of the placental tree and supports an explosive placental radiation. The Ouled Abdoun basin, which yields the oldest known African placentals, is a key locality for elucidating phylogeny and early evolution of paenungulates and other related endemic African lineages. PMID:19549873

  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. 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

  18. The structure of the cushions in the feet of African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    Weissengruber, G E; Egger, G F; Hutchinson, J R; Groenewald, H B; Elsässer, L; Famini, D; Forstenpointner, G

    2006-01-01

    The uniquely designed limbs of the African elephant, Loxodonta africana, support the weight of the largest terrestrial animal. Besides other morphological peculiarities, the feet are equipped with large subcutaneous cushions which play an important role in distributing forces during weight bearing and in storing or absorbing mechanical forces. Although the cushions have been discussed in the literature and captive elephants, in particular, are frequently affected by foot disorders, precise morphological data are sparse. The cushions in the feet of African elephants were examined by means of standard anatomical and histological techniques, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In both the forelimb and the hindlimb a 6th ray, the prepollex or prehallux, is present. These cartilaginous rods support the metacarpal or metatarsal compartment of the cushions. None of the rays touches the ground directly. The cushions consist of sheets or strands of fibrous connective tissue forming larger metacarpal/metatarsal and digital compartments and smaller chambers which were filled with adipose tissue. The compartments are situated between tarsal, metatarsal, metacarpal bones, proximal phalanges or other structures of the locomotor apparatus covering the bones palmarly/plantarly and the thick sole skin. Within the cushions, collagen, reticulin and elastic fibres are found. In the main parts, vascular supply is good and numerous nerves course within the entire cushion. Vater–Pacinian corpuscles are embedded within the collagenous tissue of the cushions and within the dermis. Meissner corpuscles are found in the dermal papillae of the foot skin. The micromorphology of elephant feet cushions resembles that of digital cushions in cattle or of the foot pads in humans but not that of digital cushions in horses. Besides their important mechanical properties, foot cushions in elephants seem to be very sensitive structures. PMID:17118065

  19. 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. PMID:24718304

  20. 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

  1. Results of a second survey to assess the reproductive status of female Asian and African elephants in North America.

    PubMed

    Proctor, Christine M; Freeman, Elizabeth W; Brown, Janine L

    2010-01-01

    Surveys are being conducted to monitor the reproductive health of elephants managed by the TAG/SSP. This study summarizes results of a 2005 survey and compares data to one conducted in 2002. Surveys were returned for 100% and 79.0% of Asian and African elephants, respectively. Of those, 79.3% of Asian and 92.1% of African elephants had weekly progestagen data to assess ovarian cyclicity. For Asian elephants, acyclicity rates were similar between the 2002 and 2005 surveys (13.3% versus 10.9%), whereas irregular cycling increased in 2005 (2.6% versus 7.6%), respectively. For African elephants, the percentages of both acyclicity (22.0% versus 31.2%) and irregular cycling females (5.2% versus 11.8%) increased. In both species, ovarian inactivity was more prevalent in the older age categories (>30 years of age), but for African elephants also occurred in the reproductive aged groups. Reproductive tract pathologies did not account for the majority of acyclicity problems. Several females changed cyclicity status between the two surveys, including from noncycling to cycling, suggesting this is not an irreversible condition. However, seven African females went from cycling to abnormal or no cyclic activity. In summary, the incidence of ovarian acyclicity in Asian elephants is low and stable, but appears to be increasing in African females. These findings reinforce the need for long-term reproductive monitoring programs and continuous reproductive surveys, even for females not being considered for breeding. With more data we hope to determine what factors are related to changes in ovarian status and how to reverse the trend towards acyclicity. PMID:20391465

  2. Terrestrial hydrological controls on land surface phenology of African savannas and woodlands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guan, Kaiyu; Wood, Eric F.; Medvigy, David; Kimball, John; Pan, Ming; Caylor, Kelly K.; Sheffield, Justin; Xu, Xiangtao; Jones, Matthew O.

    2014-08-01

    This paper presents a continental-scale phenological analysis of African savannas and woodlands. We apply an array of synergistic vegetation and hydrological data records from satellite remote sensing and model simulations to explore the influence of rainy season timing and duration on regional land surface phenology and ecosystem structure. We find that (i) the rainy season onset precedes and is an effective predictor of the growing season onset in African grasslands. (ii) African woodlands generally have early green-up before rainy season onset and have a variable delayed senescence period after the rainy season, with this delay correlated nonlinearly with tree fraction. These woodland responses suggest their complex water use mechanisms (either from potential groundwater use by relatively deep roots or stem-water reserve) to maintain dry season activity. (iii) We empirically find that the rainy season length has strong nonlinear impacts on tree fractional cover in the annual rainfall range from 600 to 1800 mm/yr, which may lend some support to the previous modeling study that given the same amount of total rainfall to the tree fraction may first increase with the lengthening of rainy season until reaching an "optimal rainy season length," after which tree fraction decreases with the further lengthening of rainy season. This nonlinear response is resulted from compound mechanisms of hydrological cycle, fire, and other factors. We conclude that African savannas and deciduous woodlands have distinctive responses in their phenology and ecosystem functioning to rainy season. Further research is needed to address interaction between groundwater and tropical woodland as well as to explicitly consider the ecological significance of rainy season length under climate change.

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

    PubMed Central

    Greenwald, Rena; Lyashchenko, Olena; Esfandiari, Javan; Miller, Michele; Mikota, Susan; Olsen, John H.; Ball, Ray; Dumonceaux, Genevieve; Schmitt, Dennis; Moller, Torsten; Payeur, Janet B.; Harris, Beth; Sofranko, Denise; Waters, W. Ray; Lyashchenko, Konstantin P.

    2009-01-01

    Tuberculosis (TB) in elephants is a reemerging 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 turnaround time, and variable sample quality. Innovative and more efficient diagnostic tools are urgently needed. We describe three novel serologic techniques, the ElephantTB Stat-Pak kit, multiantigen print immunoassay, and dual-path platform VetTB test, for rapid antibody detection in elephants. The study was performed with serum samples from 236 captive African and Asian elephants from 53 different locations in the United States and Europe. The elephants were divided into three groups based on disease status and history of exposure: (i) 26 animals with culture-confirmed TB due to M. tuberculosis or Mycobacterium bovis, (ii) 63 exposed elephants from known-infected herds that had never produced a culture-positive result from trunk wash samples, and (iii) 147 elephants without clinical symptoms suggestive of TB, with consistently negative trunk wash culture results, and with no history of potential exposure to TB in the past 5 years. Elephants with culture-confirmed TB and a proportion of exposed but trunk wash culture-negative elephants produced robust antibody responses to multiple antigens of M. tuberculosis, with seroconversions detectable years before TB-positive cultures were obtained from trunk wash specimens. ESAT-6 and CFP10 proteins were immunodominant antigens recognized by elephant antibodies during disease. The serologic assays demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 95 to 100% specificity. Rapid and accurate antibody tests to identify infected elephants will likely allow earlier and more efficient treatment, thus limiting transmission of infection to other susceptible animals and to humans. PMID:19261770

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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. .

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. Early primary--rather than primordial follicles constitute the main follicular reserve in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Stansfield, Fiona J; Picton, Helen M; Nöthling, J O

    2011-01-01

    Information on the ovarian follicle reserve in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is lacking. This study set out to determine the ratios of early preantral follicles and their relative dimensions in the ovaries of 16 African elephant aged 10-34 years. The ovaries were sectioned histologically. Follicles were counted and classified according to expansion of the pre-granulosa cells. Early primary follicles were the most common (75.8%±11.8%), followed by true primary follicles (23.8%±11.8%), whereas primordial follicles were the most rare (<2%). Measurements made on at least 100 early preantral follicles from each animal (n=1464) indicate that growth in oocyte and nuclear diameters started with transition to the true primary stage P<0.01. This, together with the observed ratios between the three types of early preantral follicles suggest that both classical primordial and early primary follicles contribute to the ovarian reserve in the African elephant. PMID:21126835

  10. Geographic variations in the composition of ivory of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Raubenheimer, E J; Brown, J M; Rama, D B; Dreyer, M J; Smith, P D; Dauth, J

    1998-08-01

    Tracing the source of origin of illegal ivory will contribute to the identification of poorly managed game parks and facilitate steps taken to prevent the African elephant from becoming extinct. This study was aimed at establishing a database on the composition of ivory obtained from elephant sanctuary areas in Southern Africa. Fragments of elephant ivory from seven geographically distinct areas in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana were analysed for inorganic and organic content. A total of 20 elements was detected in the inorganic fraction of ivory, some in concentrations as low as 0.25 microg/g. The concentrations of calcium, phosphate, magnesium, fluoride, cobalt and zinc showed statistically significant differences (p < 0.007) between ivory obtained from different regions. Analyses of the organic fraction identified 17 amino acids. Ivory from arid regions showed significantly lower proline plus hydroxyproline content and under-hydroxylation of lysine residues. This study indicates that chemical analyses of ivory could be beneficial in tracing the source of illegal ivory. PMID:9758047

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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. PMID:26179092

  19. Interactive patterns of vocal communication in African elephant herds (Loxodonta africana)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Connell-Rodwell, Caitlin E.; Wyman, Megan T.; Hart, Lynette A.; Redfield, Shay

    2001-05-01

    This study examines the interactive nature of vocalizations produced within African elephant herds during waterhole visits at Etosha National Park, Namibia. The temporal organization and physical characteristics of 1025 vocalizations, documented within 14.8 h of acoustic field recordings, were analyzed using a variety of statistical tests. Temporal distribution analyses indicated that calls were clumped in time (Kologorov-Smirnov, average significant p=0.00158) and the majority of the calls occurred after herds began the process of departing a waterhole (Wilcoxon signed rank, p=0.0012). In addition, 84% of all calls began within 30 s of another call. Based on the analysis of the temporal patterning of calls, a conversational series of vocalizations was defined as calls separated by less than 30 s of silence. The majority of calls in a conversational series are overlapping or contiguous, indicating that multiple elephants are involved in the exchange. A variety of physical characteristics (duration, frequency, frequency modulation, and frequency at peak amplitude) was compared across three different call types. These conversational call patterns may function to maintain intragroup cohesion and coordination as well as intergroup resource sharing and competition reduction. [Work supported by: Namibia Nature Foundation, Etosha Ecological Institute, UC Davis Block, Jastro Shields, and Faculty Research Grants.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  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. 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

  5. Herbivore-initiated interaction cascades and their modulation by productivity in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Young, Truman P; Rubenstein, Daniel I; McCauley, Douglas J

    2007-01-01

    Despite conceptual recognition that indirect effects initiated by large herbivores are likely to have profound impacts on ecological community structure and function, the existing literature on indirect effects focuses largely on the role of predators. As a result, we know neither the frequency and extent of herbivore-initiated indirect effects nor the mechanisms that regulate their strength. We examined the effects of ungulates on taxa (plants, arthropods, and an insectivorous lizard) representing several trophic levels, using a series of large, long-term, ungulate-exclusion plots that span a landscape-scale productivity gradient in an African savanna. At each of six sites, lizards, trees, and the numerically dominant order of arthropods (Coleoptera) were more abundant in the absence of ungulates. The effect of ungulates on arthropods was mediated by herbaceous vegetation cover. The effect on lizards was simultaneously mediated by both tree density (lizard microhabitat) and arthropod abundance (lizard food). The magnitudes of the experimental effects on all response variables (trees, arthropods, and lizards) were negatively correlated with two distinct measures of primary productivity. These results demonstrate strong cascading effects of ungulates, both trophic and nontrophic, and support the hypothesis that productivity regulates the strength of these effects. Hence, the strongest indirect effects (and thus, the greatest risks to ecosystem integrity after large mammals are extirpated) are likely to occur in low-productivity habitats. PMID:17190823

  6. 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. PMID:24358228

  7. 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. PMID:25634599

  8. 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. PMID:21896335

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  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. 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

  14. 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

  15. Nutrient and Light Limitations on Grass Productivity in a Southern African Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ries, L. P.; Shugart, H. H.; Caylor, K. K.; Okin, G. S.; Kgope, B.

    2006-12-01

    Despite the ubiquity of sub-tropical savannas throughout the earth, limitations of savanna productivity are understudied relative to other terrestrial systems. In particular, there has been little attention on the role of phosphorus (P) in savanna productivity and structure. This study examined the role of increased nitrogen (N) and P in grass productivity in a woodland savanna in Botswana. We added aqueous forms of N and P individually and together to selected grasses. During the following growing season we measured foliar nutrient concentrations, aboveground biomass productivity and photosynthetic response at various levels of incident photosynthetically active radiation to estimate the productivity response. As expected, we observed an increase in foliar P concentrations in P and N+P treatments. However, there was no increase in foliar N for any treatments. We also observed a significant increase in net carbon assimilation and Amax for all treatments relative to the control grasses. Despite a higher rate of leaf level carbon assimilation in the N treatment, the aboveground biomass production was smaller than that of the N+P treatment. These results suggest that the aboveground productivity of these woodland savanna grasses is limited by both N and P. Additionally, under constant CO2 availability, photosynthesis appears to be limited by nutrients for light levels greater than 500 μmol m-2s-1. This research will help broaden our understanding of the biogeochemical processes that govern savanna productivity. Ultimately, these data can be used to model canopy productivity and ecological succession of savannas under scenarios in which bush encroachment and desertification may alter light and nutrients availability.

  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. The Influence of Life History Milestones and Association Networks on Crop-Raiding Behavior in Male African Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Chiyo, Patrick I.; Moss, Cynthia J.; Alberts, Susan C.

    2012-01-01

    Factors that influence learning and the spread of behavior in wild animal populations are important for understanding species responses to changing environments and for species conservation. In populations of wildlife species that come into conflict with humans by raiding cultivated crops, simple models of exposure of individual animals to crops do not entirely explain the prevalence of crop raiding behavior. We investigated the influence of life history milestones using age and association patterns on the probability of being a crop raider among wild free ranging male African elephants; we focused on males because female elephants are not known to raid crops in our study population. We examined several features of an elephant association network; network density, community structure and association based on age similarity since they are known to influence the spread of behaviors in a population. We found that older males were more likely to be raiders than younger males, that males were more likely to be raiders when their closest associates were also raiders, and that males were more likely to be raiders when their second closest associates were raiders older than them. The male association network had sparse associations, a tendency for individuals similar in age and raiding status to associate, and a strong community structure. However, raiders were randomly distributed between communities. These features of the elephant association network may limit the spread of raiding behavior and likely determine the prevalence of raiding behavior in elephant populations. Our results suggest that social learning has a major influence on the acquisition of raiding behavior in younger males whereas life history factors are important drivers of raiding behavior in older males. Further, both life-history and network patterns may influence the acquisition and spread of complex behaviors in animal populations and provide insight on managing human-wildlife conflict. PMID:22347468

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. The influence of life history milestones and association networks on crop-raiding behavior in male African elephants.

    PubMed

    Chiyo, Patrick I; Moss, Cynthia J; Alberts, Susan C

    2012-01-01

    Factors that influence learning and the spread of behavior in wild animal populations are important for understanding species responses to changing environments and for species conservation. In populations of wildlife species that come into conflict with humans by raiding cultivated crops, simple models of exposure of individual animals to crops do not entirely explain the prevalence of crop raiding behavior. We investigated the influence of life history milestones using age and association patterns on the probability of being a crop raider among wild free ranging male African elephants; we focused on males because female elephants are not known to raid crops in our study population. We examined several features of an elephant association network; network density, community structure and association based on age similarity since they are known to influence the spread of behaviors in a population. We found that older males were more likely to be raiders than younger males, that males were more likely to be raiders when their closest associates were also raiders, and that males were more likely to be raiders when their second closest associates were raiders older than them. The male association network had sparse associations, a tendency for individuals similar in age and raiding status to associate, and a strong community structure. However, raiders were randomly distributed between communities. These features of the elephant association network may limit the spread of raiding behavior and likely determine the prevalence of raiding behavior in elephant populations. Our results suggest that social learning has a major influence on the acquisition of raiding behavior in younger males whereas life history factors are important drivers of raiding behavior in older males. Further, both life-history and network patterns may influence the acquisition and spread of complex behaviors in animal populations and provide insight on managing human-wildlife conflict. PMID:22347468

  2. 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

  3. Ovulation, pregnancy, placentation and husbandry in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    Allen, W.R

    2006-01-01

    The African elephant reproduces so efficiently in the wild that overpopulation is now a serious problem in some game parks in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. The female reaches puberty between 10 and 12 years of age in the wild and, when in captivity, shows oestrous cycles of 14–15 weeks duration. She readily conceives a singleton in the wild yet her uterus has the capacity for twins. She shows a gestation length of 22 months and, in the wild, shows a population density and feed dependent intercalving interval of 4–8 years. The trophoblast erodes the lumenal epithelium of the endometrium and stimulates upgrowths of blood vessel-containing stromal villi, which develop eventually into the broad, tightly folded lamellae of the zonary, endotheliochorial placenta. Significant quantities of leaked maternal erythrocytes and ferric iron are phagocytosed by specialized trophoblast cells in the haemophagous zones at the lateral edges of the placental band. Although the placenta itself is endocrinologically inert, the foetal gonads, which enlarge greatly during the second half of pregnancy can synthesize 5α-dihydryoprogesterone and other 5α pregnane derivatives from cholesterol and pregnenolone. These products may synergize with progestagens secreted by the 2–8 large corpora lutea which are always present in the maternal ovaries throughout gestation to maintain the pregnancy state. PMID:16627297

  4. 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. PMID:25314824

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Characterisation of the sympathetic nervous system of Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants based on urinary catecholamine analyses.

    PubMed

    Dehnhard, M

    2007-05-01

    Assessing the welfare status of captive animals using non-invasive measurements of hormones is of growing interest because this can serve as an effective tool to facilitate the optimization of environmental and husbandry conditions. Both the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) exhibit extremely low breeding success in captivity, and because elevated levels of stress may negatively influence reproductive functions, this study sought to establish a method for assessing sympathoadrenal activity in captive female elephants. We found a circadian variation in urinary noradrenaline (norepinephrine, NE), adrenaline (epinephrine, Epi) and dopamine (DA) under short day length. Peak activity of noradrenaline and dopamine was noted at 3 a.m. Adrenaline showed a biphasic pattern with a minor peak recorded at 3 a.m. and a major peak 9 a.m. Under long-day photoperiodic conditions, simultaneous peaks of noradrenaline and adrenaline were again noted at 3 a.m. whereas dopamine does not appear to have a distinct circadian pattern under long-day length. A transfer of two elephant cows resulted in a marked increase in urinary adrenaline and noradrenaline levels, confirming that the transfer represented a stressful event. During the peripartal period, noradrenaline concentrations increased and maximum concentrations were obtained at delivery. Daily measurements of urinary dopamine throughout the follicular phase revealed an increase in dopamine secretion close to ovulation. This increase might indicate a role of dopamine in the ovulatory mechanisms. These results suggest that changes in urinary catecholamine excretion reflect fluctuations in sympathoadrenal activity and may be a useful indicator of stress. PMID:17336981

  17. Spatial Heterogeneity and Sources of Soil Carbon in Southern African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macko, S.; Wang, L.; Okin, G.

    2007-12-01

    Soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the largest and most dynamic reservoirs of C on Earth, with nearly twice as much C stored in SOC than in the biosphere and atmosphere combined. SOC storage in global tropical savannas constitutes approximately 56 Gt of C, which rises to 216 Gt of C (i.e., about 17% of the terrestrial non- agricultural SOC), when woodlands, shrublands, and desert scrub are included. Savannas cover about 20% of the global land surface, including about one-half of Africa, Australia and South America. The shared dominance of trees and grasses in savannas, the dominant physiognomy in southern Africa, add more complexity to soil C pool partitioning and dynamics than is found in landscapes with a single physiognomy. Here, the spatial variability of the soil C pool was investigated with particular emphasis on understanding the contribution to SOC from trees and grasses at two savanna sites of the Kalahari Transect, one wet and the other dry. Using a combination of stable isotope techniques and geostatistics, the results showed that spatial patterns of soil δ13 C exist and were related to the distributions of woody (C3) and herbaceous (C4) vegetation at both sites. Heterogeneity of the sources of SOC, as well as heterogeneity in the amount of SOC, was greater at the dry site relative to the wet site. At the dry site, the grasses were the major contributor to soil C whereas in the wet site, woody vegetation was the major contributor, regardless of the location with respect to woody canopies.

  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.

    2012-05-01

    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.

  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.

    2012-01-01

    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.

  20. Effect of fuel composition on combustion efficiency and emission factors for African savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ward, D. E.; Hao, W. M.; Susott, R. A.; Babbitt, R. E.; Shea, R. W.; Kauffman, J. B.; Justice, C. O.

    1996-10-01

    Savanna burning in Africa occurs over a wide range of environmental, vegetation, and land use conditions. The emission factors for trace emissions from these fires can vary by a factor of 6 to 8, depending on whether the fires burn in miombo woodlands or in ecosystems where grass vegetation dominates. Ground-based measurements of smoke emissions and aboveground biomass were made for fires in grassland and woodland savanna ecosystems in South Africa and Zambia. A high combustion efficiency (η⌢) was measured for the pure grassland; i.e., a high proportion of carbon was released as CO2. The η⌢ was lower for woodland savanna ecosystems with variable amounts of grass and with a more compact layer of leaf material and litter lying near the ground. The η⌢ was found to be dependent on the ratio of grass to the sum of grass and litter. Models developed for estimating emissions were integrated in a nomogram for estimating total emissions of CO2, CO, CH4, nonmethane hydrocarbons, and particles of less than 2.5 μm diameter per unit area.

  1. 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

  2. Effects of controlled fire and livestock grazing on bird communities in East African savannas.

    PubMed

    Gregory, Nathan C; Sensenig, Ryan L; Wilcove, David S

    2010-12-01

    In East Africa fire and grazing by wild and domestic ungulates maintain savannas, and pastoralists historically set fires and herded livestock through the use of temporary corrals called bomas. In recent decades traditional pastoral practices have declined, and this may be affecting biodiversity. We investigated the effects of prescribed fires and bomas on savanna bird communities in East Africa during the first and second dry seasons of the year (respectively before and after the rains that mark the onset of breeding for most birds). We compared abundance, richness, and community composition on 9-ha burned plots, recently abandoned bomas, and control plots in the undisturbed matrix habitat over a 3-year period. Generally, recently burned areas and abandoned bomas attracted greater densities of birds and had different community assemblages than the surrounding matrix. The effects of disturbances were influenced by interactions between primary productivity, represented by the normalized difference vegetation index, and time. Bird densities were highest and a greater proportion of species was observed on burned plots in the months following the fires. Drought conditions equalized bird densities across treatments within 1 year, and individuals from a greater proportion of species were more commonly observed on abandoned bomas. Yearly fluctuations in abundance were less pronounced on bomas than on burns, which indicate that although fire may benefit birds in the short term, bomas may have a more-lasting positive effect and provide resources during droughts. Several Palearctic migrants were attracted to burned plots regardless of rainfall, which indicates continued fire suppression may threaten their already-declining populations. Most notably, the paucity of birds observed on the controls suggests that the current structure of the matrix developed as a result of fire suppression. Traditional pastoralism appears critical to the maintenance of avian diversity in these

  3. 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. PMID:25375263

  4. Development of the germinal ridge and ovary in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Stansfield, F J; Nöthling, J O; Soley, J T; Allen, W R

    2012-11-01

    The follicular reserve and its ontogeny in the elephant are of interest because elephants have the longest reproductive life of all land-based mammals. They also have the longest recorded pregnancy, which allows a protracted view of the series of significant events involved in the development of the embryonic and fetal gonads. The large elephant population of Zimbabwe provided the opportunity to collect conceptuses from elephants culled for management reasons and hunted professionally. Five embryos aged 76-96 days and the ovaries of four fetuses aged 4.8-11.2 months were fixed in 4% buffered formalin and studied by conventional histological sectioning and a stereological protocol to calculate the follicle reserve of each fetus. These observations enabled the conclusion that the migration of primordial germ cells into the indifferent gonad terminates at around 76 days of gestation while entry of oogonia into meiosis along with first follicle formation starts at around 5 months. Peak numbers of follicles are present by mid-gestation towards the end of the 6-month mitotic-meiotic transition period. It appears that the cortex of the elephant fetal ovary at mid-gestation (11 months) has already reached a developmental stage exhibited by the ovaries of many other mammals at full term. PMID:22991581

  5. 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

  6. The Role of Vegetation-Climate Interaction and Interannual Variability in Shaping the African Savanna.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zeng, Ning; Neelin, J. David

    2000-08-01

    Using a coupled atmosphere-land-vegetation model of intermediate complexity, the authors explore how vegetation-climate interaction and internal climate variability might influence the vegetation distribution in Africa. When the model is forced by observed climatological sea surface temperature (SST), positive feedbacks from vegetation changes tend to increase the spatial gradient between desert regions and forest regions at the expense of savanna regions. When interannual variation of SST is included, the climate variability tends to reduce rainfall and vegetation in the wetter regions and to increase them in the drier regions along this gradient, resulting in a smoother desert-forest transition. This effect is most dramatically demonstrated in a model parameter regime for which multiple equilibria (either a desertlike or a forestlike Sahel) can exist when strong vegetation-climate feedbacks are allowed. However, the presence of a variable SST drives the desertlike state and the forestlike state toward an intermediate grasslike state, because of nonlinearities in the coupled system. Both vegetation and interannual variability thus play active roles in shaping the subtropical savanna ecosystem.

  7. 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

  8. Implementing immunocontraception in free-ranging African elephants at Makalali conservancy.

    PubMed

    Delsink, A K; van Altena, J J; Grobler, D; Bertschinger, H J; Kirkpatrick, J F; Slotow, R

    2007-03-01

    The goal of programmes to provide contraception for elephants should be to formulate an approach that does not require the relocation or immobilisation of the same individual year after year, which would be long-lasting and cause minimal disruption to social and reproductive behaviour. The programmes should be simple to administer, safe and cost-effective, and must meet the objectives defined by managers in the field. An immunocontraceptive programme was initiated in a small free-roaming population of elephants at the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve in Limpopo Province in 2000 to determine whether the porcine zona pellucida (pZP) vaccine can successfully control population sizes. Further objectives were to determine implementation costs and efficiency through a multi-faceted approach. We have demonstrated that immunocontraception meets the objectives set by managers in the field. Minimal social disruption was observed over the course of treatment, with the mode of delivery (ground or aerial vaccinations) determining the degree of stress within herds and speed of resumption of normal movement patterns. Aerial vaccinations resulted in the least disturbance, with target herds being approachable within a day. In 2005, implementation costs were R880-R1000/elephant/year, inclusive of darts, vaccine, helicopter and veterinary assistance. Irrespective of the source or method of vaccine delivery, a non-pregnant elephant is rendered infertile from 1st vaccine administration. The sooner immunocontraception is implemented, the sooner population growth rates can be controlled. pZP contraception is a realistic alternative management tool, particularly if used as part of a long-term management strategy. Mass-darting from the air eliminates the need for detailed individual histories of each elephant or for employing a person to monitor elephants. Thus, implementation of immunocontraception in larger populations is feasible and practical. PMID:17665762

  9. 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

  10. 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. PMID:25808888

  11. 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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

    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. PMID:24198932

  13. 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...

  14. Trace gas measurements in nascent, aged, and cloud-processed smoke from African savanna fires by airborne Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (AFTIR)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yokelson, Robert J.; Bertschi, Isaac T.; Christian, Ted J.; Hobbs, Peter V.; Ward, Darold E.; Hao, Wei Min

    2003-07-01

    We measured stable and reactive trace gases with an airborne Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (AFTIR) on the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft in August/September 2000 during the SAFARI 2000 dry season campaign in Southern Africa. The measurements included vertical profiles of CO2, CO, H2O, and CH4 up to 5.5 km on six occasions above instrumented ground sites and below the TERRA satellite and ER-2 high-flying research aircraft. We also measured the trace gas emissions from 10 African savanna fires. Five of these fires featured extensive ground-based fuel characterization, and two were in the humid savanna ecosystem that accounts for most African biomass burning. The major constituents that we detected in nascent smoke were (in order of excess molar abundance) H2O, CO2, CO, CH4, NO2, NO, C2H4, CH3COOH, HCHO, CH3OH, HCN, NH3, HCOOH, and C2H2. These are the first quantitative measurements of the initial emissions of oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOC), NH3, and HCN from African savanna fires. On average, we measured 5.3 g/kg of OVOC and 3.6 g/kg of hydrocarbons (including CH4) in the initial emissions from the fires. Thus, the OVOC will have profound, largely unexplored effects on tropical tropospheric chemistry. The HCN emission factor was only weakly dependent on fire type; the average value (0.53 g/kg) is about 20 times that of a previous recommendation. HCN may be useful as a tracer for savanna fires. ΔO3/ΔCO and ΔCH3COOH/ΔCO increased to as much as 9% in <1 h of photochemical processing downwind of fires. Direct measurements showed that cloud processing of smoke greatly reduced CH3OH, NH3, CH3COOH, SO2, and NO2 levels, but significantly increased HCHO and NO.

  15. The progression of small-follicle reserves in the ovaries of wild African elephants (Loxodonta africana) from puberty to reproductive senescence.

    PubMed

    Stansfield, F J; Nöthling, J O; Allen, W R

    2013-01-01

    This study aimed to determine whether the follicle reserve in the ovary of the African elephant declines progressively after puberty and whether its depletion constrains the fertility of older females. Elephant ovaries were fixed in 4% neutral buffered formalin and small-follicle counts made using stereological protocols. Excepting a slight rise in small-follicle numbers between 16 and 25 years of age, there was a trend for follicle numbers to fall from puberty to 70 years. Reproductive status did not impact significantly on small-follicle numbers (P=0.31). The number of early primary follicles, initially higher in number than true primary follicles, fell from post-puberty to nil at 45 years of age. Six of the seven oldest animals in the study showed signs of recent ovarian activity in the form of antral follicles, corpora lutea or large corpora nigra. The four oldest elephants (mean age 69 years) had a median small-follicle count of 11,113. In summary, it appears that the elephant ovary is capable of supplying oocytes for ovulation right up to the time of death at the age of maximum life expectancy, although the follicle reserve becomes depleted in some older elephants. PMID:24112390

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

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

    PubMed

    Ren, Lei; Hutchinson, John R

    2008-02-01

    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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Landscape-scale variation in plant community composition of an African savanna from airborne species mapping.

    PubMed

    Baldeck, C A; Colgan, M S; Féret, J B; Levick, S R; Martin, R E; Asner, G P

    2014-01-01

    Information on landscape-scale patterns in species distributions and community types is vital for ecological science and effective conservation assessment and planning. However, detailed maps of plant community structure at landscape scales seldom exist due to the inability of field-based inventories to map a sufficient number of individuals over large areas. The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) collected hyperspectral and lidar data over Kruger National Park, South Africa, and these data were used to remotely identify > 500 000 tree and shrub crowns over a 144-km2 landscape using stacked support vector machines. Maps of community compositional variation were produced by ordination and clustering, and the importance of hillslope-scale topo-edaphic variation in shaping community structure was evaluated with redundancy analysis. This remote species identification approach revealed spatially complex patterns in woody plant communities throughout the landscape that could not be directly observed using field-based methods alone. We estimated that topo-edaphic variables representing catenal sequences explained 21% of species compositional variation, while we also uncovered important community patterns that were unrelated to catenas, indicating a large role for other soil-related factors in shaping the savanna community. Our results demonstrate the ability of airborne species identification techniques to map biodiversity for the evaluation of ecological controls on community composition over large landscapes. PMID:24640536

  4. 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.

  5. Greenhouse gas exchange in West African savanna ecosystems - how important are emissions from termite mounds?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brümmer, C.; Brüggemann, N.

    2012-04-01

    Savannas cover large areas of the Earth's surface and play an important role in global carbon and nitrogen cycling. In this study, we present the soil-atmosphere exchange of N2O, CH4, and CO2 during two field campaigns throughout the growing seasons 2005 and 2006 at a natural savanna site that was not subject to human disturbances except for annual burning, and four agricultural sites planted with sorghum (n=2), cotton and peanut in Burkina Faso. The annual N2O emission of the nature reserve site amounted to 0.52 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 in 2005 and to 0.67 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 in 2006, whereas the calculated average annual N2O release of the crop sites was only 0.19 and 0.20 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 in 2005 and 2006, respectively. As a result of a temporal up-scaling approach, a lower bound of annual N2O release could be given for two fertilized sorghum plots, that is, 0.83 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 for a highly fertilized plot and 0.44 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 for a moderately fertilized plot. During the rainy season both CH4 uptake in the range of up to 20 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1 as well as CH4 emission up to 300 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1 were observed at the nature reserve site, which was on average a CH4 source of 87.4 and 30.8 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1 in 2005 and 2006, respectively. All crop sites were on average weak CH4 sinks without significant seasonal variation. Uptake rates ranged between 2.5 and 8.7 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1. Occasionally very low net CH4 emission was observed after heavy rainfall events. Mean annual CH4 rates could be estimated to 2.48 kg CH4-C ha-1 yr-1 and -0.68 kg CH4-C ha-1 yr-1 for the nature reserve site and the crop sites, respectively. Trace gas emissions from termite (Cubitermes fungifaber) mounds that were almost exclusively found at the nature reserve were one order of magnitude higher for N2O and CO2, and two orders of magnitude higher for CH4 than soil emissions of the respective trace gas. Termite N2O, CH4 and CO2 release at the nature reserve contributed only 3.2%, 8.1% and

  6. Daily temporal structure in African savanna flower visitation networks and consequences for network sampling.

    PubMed

    Baldock, Katherine C R; Memmott, Jane; Ruiz-Guajardo, Juan Carlos; Roze, Denis; Stone, Graham N

    2011-03-01

    Ecological interaction networks are a valuable approach to understanding plant-pollinator interactions at the community level. Highly structured daily activity patterns are a feature of the biology of many flower visitors, particularly provisioning female bees, which often visit different floral sources at different times. Such temporal structure implies that presence/absence and relative abundance of specific flower-visitor interactions (links) in interaction networks may be highly sensitive to the daily timing of data collection. Further, relative timing of interactions is central to their possible role in competition or facilitation of seed set among coflowering plants sharing pollinators. To date, however, no study has examined the network impacts of daily temporal variation in visitor activity at a community scale. Here we use temporally structured sampling to examine the consequences of daily activity patterns upon network properties using fully quantified flower-visitor interaction data for a Kenyan savanna habitat. Interactions were sampled at four sequential three-hour time intervals between 06:00 and 18:00, across multiple seasonal time points for two sampling sites. In all data sets the richness and relative abundance of links depended critically on when during the day visitation was observed. Permutation-based null modeling revealed significant temporal structure across daily time intervals at three of the four seasonal time points, driven primarily by patterns in bee activity. This sensitivity of network structure shows the need to consider daily time in network sampling design, both to maximize the probability of sampling links relevant to plant reproductive success and to facilitate appropriate interpretation of interspecific relationships. Our data also suggest that daily structuring at a community level could reduce indirect competitive interactions when coflowering plants share pollinators, as is commonly observed during flowering in highly

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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. PMID:22898009

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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. PMID:16247809

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Genetic variation at hair length candidate genes in elephants and the extinct woolly mammoth

    PubMed Central

    Roca, Alfred L; Ishida, Yasuko; Nikolaidis, Nikolas; Kolokotronis, Sergios-Orestis; Fratpietro, Stephen; Stewardson, Kristin; Hensley, Shannon; Tisdale, Michele; Boeskorov, Gennady; Greenwood, Alex D

    2009-01-01

    Background Like humans, the living elephants are unusual among mammals in being sparsely covered with hair. Relative to extant elephants, the extinct woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, had a dense hair cover and extremely long hair, which likely were adaptations to its subarctic habitat. The fibroblast growth factor 5 (FGF5) gene affects hair length in a diverse set of mammalian species. Mutations in FGF5 lead to recessive long hair phenotypes in mice, dogs, and cats; and the gene has been implicated in hair length variation in rabbits. Thus, FGF5 represents a leading candidate gene for the phenotypic differences in hair length notable between extant elephants and the woolly mammoth. We therefore sequenced the three exons (except for the 3' UTR) and a portion of the promoter of FGF5 from the living elephantid species (Asian, African savanna and African forest elephants) and, using protocols for ancient DNA, from a woolly mammoth. Results Between the extant elephants and the mammoth, two single base substitutions were observed in FGF5, neither of which alters the amino acid sequence. Modeling of the protein structure suggests that the elephantid proteins fold similarly to the human FGF5 protein. Bioinformatics analyses and DNA sequencing of another locus that has been implicated in hair cover in humans, type I hair keratin pseudogene (KRTHAP1), also yielded negative results. Interestingly, KRTHAP1 is a pseudogene in elephantids as in humans (although fully functional in non-human primates). Conclusion The data suggest that the coding sequence of the FGF5 gene is not the critical determinant of hair length differences among elephantids. The results are discussed in the context of hairlessness among mammals and in terms of the potential impact of large body size, subarctic conditions, and an aquatic ancestor on hair cover in the Proboscidea. PMID:19747392

  17. Excretory fate of estradiol and progesterone in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and patterns of fecal steroid concentrations throughout the estrous cycle.

    PubMed

    Wasser, S K; Papageorge, S; Foley, C; Brown, J L

    1996-05-01

    We developed and validated a noninvasive method to quantify fecal estrogens and progestins as a tool for monitoring long-term ovarian activity in free-ranging African elephants. The lag times between iv injection of [(3)H]estradiol and [(14)C]progesterone and peak excretion of radioactivity in urine and feces were approximately 4 hr and 48 hr, respectively. The majority of progesterone metabolites recovered was excreted in feces (55%) versus urine (45%), whereas comparatively little of the recovered estradiol metabolites were excreted in feces (5%) compared to urine (95%). Intrasample variation in fecal hormone concentrations was extremely high but could be substantially reduced by extracting well-mixed fecal powder from freeze-dried samples, taken from the central or premixed portion of the wet sample. This method resulted in a close correspondence between matched serum and fecal progestins (mean correlation = 0.81, range 0.61-0.94) collected from five nonpregnant adult females over a 7-month period. Fecal estrogen profiles were more ambiguous, tending to overlap with those of fecal progestins. We conclude that analyses of fecal progestins can provide an effective, noninvasive means of characterizing ovarian activity in free-ranging African elephants. PMID:8998970

  18. The elephant knee joint: morphological and biomechanical considerations

    PubMed Central

    Weissengruber, G E; Fuss, F K; Egger, G; Stanek, G; Hittmair, K M; Forstenpointner, G

    2006-01-01

    Elephant limbs display unique morphological features which are related mainly to supporting the enormous body weight of the animal. In elephants, the knee joint plays important roles in weight bearing and locomotion, but anatomical data are sparse and lacking in functional analyses. In addition, the knee joint is affected frequently by arthrosis. Here we examined structures of the knee joint by means of standard anatomical techniques in eight African (Loxodonta africana) and three Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Furthermore, we performed radiography in five African and two Asian elephants and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in one African elephant. Macerated bones of 11 individuals (four African, seven Asian elephants) were measured with a pair of callipers to give standardized measurements of the articular parts. In one Asian and three African elephants, kinematic and functional analyses were carried out using a digitizer and according to the helical axis concept. Some peculiarities of healthy and arthrotic knee joints of elephants were compared with human knees. In contrast to those of other quadruped mammals, the knee joint of elephants displays an extended resting position. The femorotibial joint of elephants shows a high grade of congruency and the menisci are extremely narrow and thin. The four-bar mechanism of the cruciate ligaments exists also in the elephant. The main motion of the knee joint is extension–flexion with a range of motion of 142°. In elephants, arthrotic alterations of the knee joint can lead to injury or loss of the cranial (anterior) cruciate ligament. PMID:16420379

  19. Growth and development of the ovary and small follicle pool from mid fetal life to pre-puberty in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background Follicle numbers and developing ovarian morphology, particularly with reference to the presence of interstitial tissue, are intimately linked within the ovary of the African elephant during the period spanning mid-gestation to puberty. These have not been previously quantified in any studies. The collection of 7 sets of elephant fetal ovaries between 11.2 and 20.2 months of gestation, and 29 pairs of prepubertal calf ovaries between 2 months and 9 years of age during routine management off-takes of complete family groups in private conservancies in Zimbabwe provided an opportunity for a detailed study of this period. Results The changing morphology of the ovary is described as the presumptive cortex and medulla components of the fetal ovary settled into their adult form. Interstitial tissue dominated the ovary in late fetal life and these cells stained strongly for 3β–hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. This staining continued postnatally through to 4.5 years of age suggesting continued secretion of progestagens by the ovary during this period. The considerable growth of antral follicles peaked at 28% of ovarian volume at around 16.7 months of fetal age. The numbers of small follicles (primordial, early primary and true primary), counted in the cortex using stereological protocols, revealed fewer small follicles in the ovaries of animals aged 0 to 4.5 years of age than during either late fetal life or prepubertal life. Conclusions The small follicle populations of the late-fetal and prepubertal ovaries of the African elephant were described along with the changing morphology of these organs. The changes noted represent a series of events that have been recorded only in the elephant and the giraffe species to date. The expansion of the interstitial tissue of the fetal ovary and its continued presence in early post natal life may well contribute to the control of follicle development in these early years. Further research is required to determine

  20. 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

  1. 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. PMID:24933802

  2. 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…

  3. 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

  4. Elephant ear

    MedlinePlus

    Elephant ear plants are indoor or outdoor plants with very large, arrow-shaped leaves. Poisoning may occur if you ... The harmful substances in elephant ear plants are: Oxalic acid ... plant Note: Leaves and stems are the most dangerous when eaten ...

  5. Elephant resource-use traditions.

    PubMed

    Fishlock, Victoria; Caldwell, Christine; Lee, Phyllis C

    2016-03-01

    African elephants (Loxodonta africana) use unusual and restricted habitats such as swampy clearings, montane outcrops and dry rivers for a variety of social and ecological reasons. Within these habitats, elephants focus on very specific areas for resource exploitation, resulting in deep caves, large forest clearings and sand pits as well as long-established and highly demarcated routes for moving between resources. We review evidence for specific habitat exploitation in elephants and suggest that this represents socially learned cultural behaviour. Although elephants show high fidelity to precise locations over the very long term, these location preferences are explained neither by resource quality nor by accessibility. Acquiring techniques for exploiting specific resource sites requires observing conspecifics and practice and is evidence for social learning. Elephants possess sophisticated cognitive capacities used to track relationships and resources over their long lifespans, and they have an extended period of juvenile dependency as a result of the need to acquire this considerable social and ecological knowledge. Thus, elephant fidelity to particular sites results in traditional behaviour over generations, with the potential to weaken relationships between resource quality and site preferences. Illustrating the evidence for such powerful traditions in a species such as elephants contributes to understanding animal cognition in natural contexts. PMID:26359083

  6. 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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2009-01-01

    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 C4 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 ≈2 weeks. The peak probability of conception in the population occurred ≈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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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 ...

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. Source characterization of biomass burning particles: The combustion of selected European conifers, African hardwood, savanna grass, and German and Indonesian peat

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iinuma, Y.; Brüggemann, E.; Gnauk, T.; Müller, K.; Andreae, M. O.; Helas, G.; Parmar, R.; Herrmann, H.

    2007-04-01

    We carried out a detailed size-resolved chemical characterization of particle emissions from the combustion of European conifer species, savanna grass, African hardwood, and German and Indonesian peat. Combustion particles were sampled using two sets of five-stage Berner-type cascade impactors after a buffer volume and a dilution tunnel. We determined the emission factors of water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC, 46-6700 mg kg-1, sum of five stages), water-insoluble organic carbon (WISOC, 1300-6100 mg kg-1), (apparent) elemental carbon (ECa, 490-1800 mg kg-1), inorganic ions (68-400 mg kg-1), n-alkanes (0.38-910 mg kg-1), n-alkenes (0.45-180 mg kg-1), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (1.4-28 mg kg-1), oxy-PAHs (0.08-1.0 mg kg-1), lignin decomposition products (59-620 mg kg-1), nitrophenols (1.4-31 mg kg-1), resin acids (0-110 mg kg-1), and cellulose and hemicellulose decomposition products (540-5900 mg kg-1). The combustion and particle emission characteristics of both of peat were significantly different from those of the other biofuels. Peat burning yielded significantly higher emission factors of total fine particles in comparison to the other biofuels. Very high emission factors of n-alkanes and n-alkenes were observed from peat combustion, which may be connected to the concurrently observed "missing" CCN in peat smoke. A high level of monosaccharide anhydrides, especially levoglucosan, was detected from all types of biofuel combustion. The fractions of monosaccharide anhydrides in the emitted total carbon were higher in smaller particles (aerodynamic diameter, Dpa < 0.42 μm).

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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. PMID:26487427

  2. 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. PMID:25053675

  3. 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

  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. PMID:26801000

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. How many rumbles are there? Acoustic variation and individual identity in the rumble vocalizations of African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Soltis, Joseph M.; Savage, Anne; Leong, Kirsten M.

    2001-05-01

    The most commonly occurring elephant vocalization is the rumble, a frequency-modulated call with infrasonic components. Upwards of ten distinct rumble subtypes have been proposed, but little quantitative work on the acoustic properties of rumbles has been conducted. Rumble vocalizations (N=269) from six females housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom were analyzed. Vocalizations were recorded from microphones in collars around subject necks, and rumbles were digitized and measured using SIGNAL software. Sixteen acoustic variables were measured for each call, extracting both source and filter features. Multidimensional scaling analysis indicates that there are no acoustically distinct rumble subtypes, but that there is quantitative variation across rumbles. Discriminant function analysis showed that the acoustic characteristics of rumbles differ across females. A classification success rate of 65% was achieved when assigning unselected rumbles to one of the six females (test set =64 calls) according to the functions derived from the originally selected calls (training set =205 calls). The rumble is best viewed as a single call type with graded variation, but information regarding individual identity is encoded in female rumbles.

  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. PMID:22496287

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. Foetal age determination and development in elephants.

    PubMed

    Hildebrandt, Thomas; Drews, Barbara; Gaeth, Ann P; Goeritz, Frank; Hermes, Robert; Schmitt, Dennis; Gray, Charlie; Rich, Peter; Streich, Wolf Juergen; Short, Roger V; Renfree, Marilyn B

    2007-02-01

    Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all mammals, with an average gestation of around 660 days, so their embryonic and foetal development have always been of special interest. Hitherto, it has only been possible to estimate foetal ages from theoretical calculations based on foetal mass. The recent development of sophisticated ultrasound procedures for elephants has now made it possible to monitor the growth and development of foetuses of known gestational age conceived in captivity from natural matings or artificial insemination. We have studied the early stages of pregnancy in 10 captive Asian and 9 African elephants by transrectal ultrasound. Measurements of foetal crown-rump lengths have provided the first accurate growth curves, which differ significantly from the previous theoretical estimates based on the cube root of foetal mass. We have used these to age 22 African elephant foetuses collected during culling operations. Pregnancy can be first recognized ultrasonographically by day 50, the presumptive yolk sac by about day 75 and the zonary placenta by about day 85. The trunk is first recognizable by days 85-90 and is distinct by day 104, while the first heartbeats are evident from around day 80. By combining ultrasonography and morphology, we have been able to produce the first reliable criteria for estimating gestational age and ontological development of Asian and African elephant foetuses during the first third of gestation. PMID:17164195

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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. PMID:16891073

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Strangulating intestinal obstructions in four captive elephants (Elephas maximus and Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Wiedner, Ellen B; Peddie, James; Peddie, Linda Reeve; Abou-Madi, Noha; Kollias, George V; Doyle, Charles; Lindsay, William A; Isaza, Ramiro; Terrell, Scott; Lynch, Tim M; Johnson, Kari; Johnson, Gary; Sammut, Charlie; Daft, Barbara; Uzal, Francisco

    2012-03-01

    Three captive-born (5-day-old, 8-day-old, and 4-yr-old) Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and one captive-born 22-yr-old African elephant (Loxodonta africana) from three private elephant facilities and one zoo in the United States presented with depression, anorexia, and tachycardia as well as gastrointestinal signs of disease including abdominal distention, decreased borborygmi, tenesmus, hematochezia, or diarrhea. All elephants showed some evidence of discomfort including agitation, vocalization, or postural changes. One animal had abnormal rectal findings. Nonmotile bowel loops were seen on transabdominal ultrasound in another case. Duration of signs ranged from 6 to 36 hr. All elephants received analgesics and were given oral or rectal fluids. Other treatments included warm-water enemas or walking. One elephant underwent exploratory celiotomy. Three animals died, and the elephant taken to surgery was euthanized prior to anesthetic recovery. At necropsy, all animals had severe, strangulating intestinal lesions. PMID:22448519

  4. 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

  5. Problem-Elephant Translocation: Translocating the Problem and the Elephant?

    PubMed Central

    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. PMID:23236404

  6. Cotton fields drive elephant habitat fragmentation in the Mid Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sibanda, Mbulisi; Murwira, Amon

    2012-10-01

    In this study we tested whether cotton fields contribute more than cereal fields to African elephant (Loxodonta africana) habitat loss through its effects on woodland fragmentation in the Mid-Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. In order to test this hypothesis, we first mapped cotton and cereal fields using MODIS remotely sensed data. Secondly, we analysed the effect of the area of cotton and cereal fields on woodland fragmentation using regression analysis. We then related the fragmentation indices, particularly edge density with elephant distribution data to test whether elephant distribution was significantly related with woodland fragmentation resulting from cotton fields. Our results showed that cotton fields contributed more to woodland fragmentation than cereal fields. In addition, results showed that the frequency of the African elephant increased where cotton fields were many and small relative to cereal fields. We concluded that cotton fields are the main driver of woodland fragmentation and therefore elephant habitat in the Mid-Zambezi Valley compared with cereal fields.

  7. Trade-offs between savanna woody plant diversity and carbon storage in the Brazilian Cerrado.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A; Socolar, Jacob B; Elsen, Paul R; Giam, Xingli

    2016-10-01

    Incentivizing carbon storage can be a win-win pathway to conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. In savannas, however, the situation is more complex. Promoting carbon storage through woody encroachment may reduce plant diversity of savanna endemics, even as the diversity of encroaching forest species increases. This trade-off has important implications for the management of biodiversity and carbon in savanna habitats, but has rarely been evaluated empirically. We quantified the nature of carbon-diversity relationships in the Brazilian Cerrado by analyzing how woody plant species richness changed with carbon storage in 206 sites across the 2.2 million km(2) region at two spatial scales. We show that total woody plant species diversity increases with carbon storage, as expected, but that the richness of endemic savanna woody plant species declines with carbon storage both at the local scale, as woody biomass accumulates within plots, and at the landscape scale, as forest replaces savanna. The sharpest trade-offs between carbon storage and savanna diversity occurred at the early stages of carbon accumulation at the local scale but the final stages of forest encroachment at the landscape scale. Furthermore, the loss of savanna species quickens in the final stages of forest encroachment, and beyond a point, savanna species losses outpace forest species gains with increasing carbon accumulation. Our results suggest that although woody encroachment in savanna ecosystems may provide substantial carbon benefits, it comes at the rapidly accruing cost of woody plant species adapted to the open savanna environment. Moreover, the dependence of carbon-diversity trade-offs on the amount of savanna area remaining requires land managers to carefully consider local conditions. Widespread woody encroachment in both Australian and African savannas and grasslands may present similar threats to biodiversity. PMID:26919289

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. A fatal elephant attack.

    PubMed

    Hejna, Petr; Zátopková, Lenka; Safr, Miroslav

    2012-01-01

    A rare case of an elephant attack is presented. A 44-year-old man working as an elephant keeper was attacked by a cow elephant when he tripped over a foot chain while the animal was being medically treated. The man fell down and was consequently repeatedly attacked with elephant tusks. The man sustained multiple stab injuries to both groin regions, a penetrating injury to the abdominal wall with traumatic prolapse of the loops of the small bowel, multiple defects of the mesentery, and incomplete laceration of the abdominal aorta with massive bleeding into the abdominal cavity. In addition to the penetrating injuries, the man sustained multiple rib fractures with contusion of both lungs and laceration of the right lobe of the liver, and comminuted fractures of the pelvic arch and left femoral body. The man died shortly after he had been received at the hospital. The cause of death was attributed to traumatic shock. PMID:22085093

  12. 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

  13. 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. PMID:24133151

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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. PMID:24026347

  18. Skewed birth sex ratio and premature mortality in elephants.

    PubMed

    Saragusty, Joseph; Hermes, Robert; Göritz, Frank; Schmitt, Dennis L; Hildebrandt, Thomas B

    2009-10-01

    Sex allocation theories predict equal offspring number of both sexes unless differential investment is required or some competition exists. Left undisturbed, elephants reproduce well and in approximately even numbers in the wild. We report an excess of males are born and substantial juvenile mortality occurs, perinatally, in captivity. Studbook data on captive births (CB, n=487) and premature deaths (PD, <5 years of age; n=164) in Asian and African elephants in Europe and North America were compared with data on Myanmar timber (Asian) elephants (CB, n=3070; PD, n=738). Growth in CB was found in three of the captive populations. A significant excess of male births occurred in European Asian elephants (ratio: 0.61, P=0.044) and in births following artificial insemination (0.83, P=0.003), and a numerical inclination in North American African elephants (0.6). While juvenile mortality in European African and Myanmar populations was 21-23%, it was almost double (40-45%) in all other captive populations. In zoo populations, 68-91% of PD were within 1 month of birth with stillbirth and infanticide being major causes. In Myanmar, 62% of juvenile deaths were at >6 months with maternal insufficient milk production, natural hazards and accidents being the main causes. European Asian and Myanmar elephants PD was biased towards males (0.71, P=0.024 and 0.56, P<0.001, respectively). The skewed birth sex ratio and high juvenile mortality hinder efforts to help captive populations become self-sustaining. Efforts should be invested to identify the mechanism behind these trends and seek solutions for them. PMID:19058933

  19. 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

  20. Point Prevalence and Incidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in captive elephants in the United States

    PubMed Central

    Feldman, Melissa; Isaza, Ramiro; Prins, Cindy; Hernandez, Jorge

    2013-01-01

    Background Captive elephants infected with tuberculosis are implicated as an occupational source of zoonotic tuberculosis. However, accurate estimates of prevalence and incidence of elephant tuberculosis from well-defined captive populations are lacking in the literature. Studies published in recent years contain a wide range of prevalence estimates calculated from summary data. Incidence estimates of elephant tuberculosis in captive elephants are not available. Objective This study estimated the annual point prevalence, annual incidence, cumulative incidence, and incidence density of tuberculosis in captive elephants within the USA during the past 52 years. Animals and Methods We combined existing elephant census records from captive elephants in the USA with tuberculosis culture results obtained from trunk washes or at necropsy. This data set included 15 years where each elephant was screened annually. Results Between 1960 and 1996, the annual point prevalence of tuberculosis complex mycobacteria for both species was 0. From 1997 through 2011, the median point prevalence within the Asian elephant population was 5.1%, with a range from 0.3% to 6.7%. The incidence density was 9.7 cases/1000 elephant years (95% CI: 7.0–13.4). In contrast, the annual point prevalence during the same time period within the African elephant population remained 0 and the incidence density was 1.5 cases/1000 elephant years (95% CI: 0.7–4.0). Conclusions The apparent increase in new cases noted after 1996 resulted from a combination of both index cases and the initiation of mandatory annual tuberculosis complex (MTBC) screening in 1997 for all the elephants. This study found lower annual point prevalence estimates than previously reported in the literature. These discrepancies in prevalence estimates are primarily due to differences in terminology and calculation methods. Using the same intensive testing regime, the incidence of tuberculosis differed significantly between Asian and

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. The ears of the African elephant: unexpected high seroprevalence of Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae in healthy populations in Western Africa

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Malaria Is A Life-Threatening Pathology In Africa. Plasmodium Falciparum And Plasmodium Vivax Attract The Most Focus Because Of Their High Prevalence And Mortality. Knowledge About The Prevalence Of The Cryptic Pathogens Plasmodium Ovale And Plasmodium Malariae Is Limited. Thanks To Recombinant Tools, Their Seroprevalence Was Measured For The First Time, As Well As The Prevalence Of Mixed Infections In A Malaria-Asymptomatic Population In Benin, A Malaria-Endemic Country. Methods A Panel Of 1,235 Blood Donations Collected Over Ten Months In Benin Was Used For Validation Of The Recombinant Tools. Recombinant P. Falciparum, P. Malariae, P. Ovale MSP1, And P. Falciparum AMA1 Were Engineered And Validated On A Biobank With Malaria-Infected Patients (N = 144) Using A Species-Speific ELISA Test (Recelisa). Results Were Compared To An ELISA Using A Native P. Falciparum Antigen (NatELISA). Results Among Microscopically Negative African Blood Donors, 85% (1,050/1,235) Present Antibodies Directed To Native P. Falciparum, 94.4% (1,166/1,235) To rPfMSP1 And rPfAMA1, 56.8% (702/1,235) To rPoMSP1, 67.5% (834/1235) To rPmMSP1 And 45.3% Of The Malaria Seropositive Population Had Antibodies Recognizing The Three Species. Conclusion A High Rate Of Antibodies Against P. Ovale And P. Malariae Was Found In Asymptomatic Blood Donors. The Proportion Of Mixed Infections Involving Three Species Was Also Unexpected. These Data Suggest That Determining Seroprevalence For These Cryptic Species Is An Appropriate Tool To Estimate Their Incidence, At The Eve Of Upcoming Anti-P. Falciparum Vaccination Campaigns. PMID:24946685

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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…

  9. 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

  10. 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...

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Development and Validation of Quantitative Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction Assays to Detect Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses-2, 3, 4, 5, and 6

    PubMed Central

    Stanton, Jeffrey J.; Nofs, Sally; Peng, Rongsheng; Hayward, Gary S.; Ling, Paul D.

    2012-01-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHV) can cause lethal hemorrhagic disease in both African and Asian elephants. At least seven EEHV types have been described, and sensitive real-time PCR tests have been developed for EEHV1A and 1B, which are associated with the majority of characterized Asian elephant deaths. Despite growing knowledge of the different EEHV types, the prevalence of each type within African and Asian elephants remains to be determined and there is considerable need for diagnostic tests to detect and discriminate between each EEHV species for clinical management of African and Asian elephants that develop illness from one or more of these viruses. To begin to address these issues, we developed real-time PCR assays for EEHV2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Overall, each assay had robust PCR efficiency, a dynamic linear range over 5 log10 concentrations, a limit of detection of 10 copies/test reaction with 100% sensitivity, and low intra- and inter-assay variability. Each assay proved to be specific for the EEHV targets for which it was designed, with the exception of EEHV3 and EEHV4, which was expected because of greater DNA sequence similarity between these two EEHV species than the others. These new tools will be useful for conducting surveys of EEHV prevalence within captive and range country elephants, for diagnostic testing of elephants with suspected EEHV-associated disease, and for managing the treatment of elephants with EEHV-induced illness. PMID:22842286

  14. Fuel biomass and combustion factors associated with fires in savanna ecosystems of South Africa and Zambia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shea, Ronald W.; Shea, Barbara W.; Kauffman, J. Boone; Ward, Darold E.; Haskins, Craig I.; Scholes, Mary C.

    1996-10-01

    Fires are dominant factors in shaping the structure and composition of vegetation in African savanna ecosystems. Emissions such as CO2, NOx, CH4, and other compounds originating from these fires are suspected to contribute substantially to changes in global biogeochemical processes. Limited quantitative data exist detailing characteristics of biomass, burning conditions, and the postfire environment in African savannas. Fourteen test sites, differentiated by distinct burn frequency histories and land-use patterns, were established and burned during August and September 1992 in savanna parklands of South Africa and savanna woodlands of Zambia. Vegetation physiognomy, available fuel loads, the levels of biomass consumed by fire, environmental conditions, and fire behavior are described. In the South African sites, total aboveground fuel loads ranged from 2218 to 5492 kg ha-1 where fire return intervals were 1-4 years and exceeded 7000 kg ha-1 at a site subjected to 38 years of fire exclusion. However, fireline intensity was only 1419 kW m-1 at the fire exclusion site, while ranging from 480 to 6130 kW m-1 among the frequent fire sites. In Zambia, total aboveground fuel loads ranged from 3164 kg ha-1 in a hydromorphic grassland to 7343 kg ha-1 in a fallow shifting cultivation site. Dormant grass and litter constituted 70-98% of the total fuel load among all sites. Although downed woody debris was a relatively minor fuel component at most sites, it constituted 43-57% of the total fuel load in the fire exclusion and shifting cultivation sites. Fire line intensity ranged between 1734 and 4061 kW m-1 among all Zambian sites. Mean grass consumption generally exceeded 95%, while downed woody debris consumption ranged from 3 to 73% at all sites. In tropical savannas and savanna woodlands of southern Africa, differences in environmental conditions, land- use patterns, and fire regimes influence vegetation characteristics and thus influence fire behavior and biomass

  15. 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. PMID:21392292

  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. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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...

  7. 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

  8. Age profiles in elephant and mammoth bone assemblages

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haynes, Gary

    1985-11-01

    Age profiles of modern African elephant ( Loxodonta africana) populations are significantly affected by drought conditions that cause local die-offs. Subadult animals die in proportions that may be nearly twice what is recorded in live populations. Such biasing of death sample age profiles might also have occurred during late Pleistocene die-offs of Mammuthus. This comparative study of modern and fossil proboscidean age structures supports a tentative interpretation that late Pleistocene extinction of Mammuthus (at least in the southwestern United States) resulted from severe drought conditions, at which Clovis hunters were witnesses, but not necessarily frequent participants.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Home Range and Ranging Behaviour of Bornean Elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) Females

    PubMed Central

    Alfred, Raymond; Ahmad, Abd Hamid; Payne, Junaidi; Williams, Christy; Ambu, Laurentius Nayan; How, Phua Mui; Goossens, Benoit

    2012-01-01

    Background Home range is defined as the extent and location of the area covered annually by a wild animal in its natural habitat. Studies of African and Indian elephants in landscapes of largely open habitats have indicated that the sizes of the home range are determined not only by the food supplies and seasonal changes, but also by numerous other factors including availability of water sources, habitat loss and the existence of man-made barriers. The home range size for the Bornean elephant had never been investigated before. Methodology/Principal Findings The first satellite tracking program to investigate the movement of wild Bornean elephants in Sabah was initiated in 2005. Five adult female elephants were immobilized and neck collars were fitted with tracking devices. The sizes of their home range and movement patterns were determined using location data gathered from a satellite tracking system and analyzed by using the Minimum Convex Polygon and Harmonic Mean methods. Home range size was estimated to be 250 to 400 km2 in a non-fragmented forest and 600 km2 in a fragmented forest. The ranging behavior was influenced by the size of the natural forest habitat and the availability of permanent water sources. The movement pattern was influenced by human disturbance and the need to move from one feeding site to another. Conclusions/Significance Home range and movement rate were influenced by the degree of habitat fragmentation. Once habitat was cleared or converted, the availability of food plants and water sources were reduced, forcing the elephants to travel to adjacent forest areas. Therefore movement rate in fragmented forest was higher than in the non-fragmented forest. Finally, in fragmented habitat human and elephant conflict occurrences were likely to be higher, due to increased movement bringing elephants into contact more often with humans. PMID:22347469

  12. Roadless Wilderness Area Determines Forest Elephant Movements in the Congo Basin

    PubMed Central

    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

  13. 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

  14. Phylogeography of the asian elephant (Elephas maximus) based on mitochondrial DNA.

    PubMed

    Fleischer, R C; Perry, E A; Muralidharan, K; Stevens, E E; Wemmer, C M

    2001-09-01

    Populations of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) have been reduced in size and become highly fragmented during the past 3,000 to 4,000 years. Historical records reveal elephant dispersal by humans via trade and war. How have these anthropogenic impacts affected genetic variation and structure of Asian elephant populations? We sequenced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to assay genetic variation and phylogeography across much of the Asian elephant's range. Initially we compare cytochrome b sequences (cyt b) between nine Asian and five African elephants and use the fossil-based age of their separation (approximately 5 million years ago) to obtain a rate of about 0.013 (95% CI = 0.011-0.018) corrected sequence divergence per million years. We also assess variation in part of the mtDNA control region (CR) and adjacent tRNA genes in 57 Asian elephants from seven countries (Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia). Asian elephants have typical levels of mtDNA variation, and coalescence analyses suggest their populations were growing in the late Pleistocene. Reconstructed phylogenies reveal two major clades (A and B) differing on average by HKY85/gamma-corrected distances of 0.020 for cyt b and 0.050 for the CR segment (corresponding to a coalescence time based on our cyt b rate of approximately 1.2 million years). Individuals of both major clades exist in all locations but Indonesia and Malaysia. Most elephants from Malaysia and all from Indonesia are in well-supported, basal clades within clade A. thus supporting their status as evolutionarily significant units (ESUs). The proportion of clade A individuals decreases to the north, which could result from retention and subsequent loss of ancient lineages in long-term stable populations or, perhaps more likely, via recent mixing of two expanding populations that were isolated in the mid-Pleistocene. The distribution of clade A individuals appears to have been impacted by human trade in elephants

  15. 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. PMID:23405088

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in free-living African mammals.

    PubMed

    Riemann, G P; Burridge, M J; Behymer, D E; Franti, C E

    1975-10-01

    Twelve species of free-living African mammals from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia were tested for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii using the indirect hemagglutination test. Of 157 animals sampled, 20 (13%) were seropositive. T. gondii antibodies were detected in Burchell's zebra, (Equus burchelli), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), defassa waterbuck (Kobus defassa), lion (Panthera leo), and rock hyrax (Procavia capensis), The highest titers were found in elephants, two having titers of 1:4096 and one of 1:8192. These results are discussed in relation to the maintenance of T. gondii among African wildlife. PMID:1195497

  20. 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.

  1. 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

  2. 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)

  3. 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…

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Automated detection of elephants in wildlife video

    PubMed Central

    Zeppelzauer, Matthias

    2015-01-01

    Biologists often have to investigate large amounts of video in behavioral studies of animals. These videos are usually not sufficiently indexed which makes the finding of objects of interest a time-consuming task. We propose a fully automated method for the detection and tracking of elephants in wildlife video which has been collected by biologists in the field. The method dynamically learns a color model of elephants from a few training images. Based on the color model, we localize elephants in video sequences with different backgrounds and lighting conditions. We exploit temporal clues from the video to improve the robustness of the approach and to obtain spatial and temporal consistent detections. The proposed method detects elephants (and groups of elephants) of different sizes and poses performing different activities. The method is robust to occlusions (e.g., by vegetation) and correctly handles camera motion and different lighting conditions. Experiments show that both near- and far-distant elephants can be detected and tracked reliably. The proposed method enables biologists efficient and direct access to their video collections which facilitates further behavioral and ecological studies. The method does not make hard constraints on the species of elephants themselves and is thus easily adaptable to other animal species. PMID:25902006

  14. 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 only to retrieve the food but also to fine-tune the food position for easy grasping. We also observed individual differences in the elephants' aptitude for this technique, which altered the efficiency of food acquisition. Thus, we added a new example of spontaneous behaviour for achieving a goal in animals. The use of breath to drive food is probably unique to elephants, with their dexterous trunks and familiarity with manipulating the act of blowing, which is commonly employed for self-comfort and acoustic communication. PMID:26541597

  15. 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

  16. Detusking Fence-Breaker Elephants as an Approach in Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation

    PubMed Central

    Mutinda, Matthew; Chenge, Geoffrey; Gakuya, Francis; Otiende, Moses; Omondi, Patrick; Kasiki, Samuel; Soriguer, Ramón C.; Alasaad, Samer

    2014-01-01

    Background Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a recurring problem that appears wherever the range of elephants and humans overlap. Different methods including the use of electric fences are used worldwide to mitigate this conflict. Nonetheless, elephants learn quickly that their tusks do not conduct electricity and use them to break down fences (fence-breakers). Methodology/Principal Findings In Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, destructive elephants (Loxodonta africana) were monitored between 2010 and 2013. The fence-breaking rate reached four incidents (fence-breaking) per elephant per 100 days. Ten bull males and 57 females were identified as fence-breakers. The bulls were involved in 85.07% and the females in 14.93% of incidents. The Kenya Wildlife Service approved detusking (partial cutting of tusks) in four of the 10 fence-breakers as a way of preventing them from breaking down fences, thereby mitigating HEC in the Conservancy. The result of the detusking was a drastic six-fold reduction in damage to fences (range: 1.67 to 14.5 times less fence-breaking) by the four worst fence-breaker elephants, because with trimmed tusks elephants lack the tools to break down fences. Detusking could not totally eliminate fence destruction because, despite lacking their tools, elephants can still destroy fences using their heads, bodies and trunks, albeit less effectively. On the other hand, apart from inherent aesthetic considerations, the detusking of elephants may have certain negative effects on factors such as elephants' social hierarchies, breeding, mate selection and their access to essential minerals and food. Conclusions Elephant detusking seems to be effective in drastically reducing fence-breaking incidents, nonetheless its negative effects on behaviour, access to food and its aesthetical consequences still need to be further studied and investigated. PMID:24614538

  17. 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

  18. Relation between rainfall intensity and savanna tree abundance explained by water use strategies.

    PubMed

    Xu, Xiangtao; Medvigy, David; Rodriguez-Iturbe, Ignacio

    2015-10-20

    Tree abundance in tropical savannas exhibits large and unexplained spatial variability. Here, we propose that differentiated tree and grass water use strategies can explain the observed negative relation between maximum tree abundance and rainfall intensity (defined as the characteristic rainfall depth on rainy days), and we present a biophysical tree-grass competition model to test this idea. The model is founded on a premise that has been well established in empirical studies, namely, that the relative growth rate of grasses is much higher compared with trees in wet conditions but that grasses are more susceptible to water stress and lose biomass more quickly in dry conditions. The model is coupled with a stochastic rainfall generator and then calibrated and tested using field observations from several African savanna sites. We show that the observed negative relation between maximum tree abundance and rainfall intensity can be explained only when differentiated water use strategies are accounted for. Numerical experiments reveal that this effect is more significant than the effect of root niche separation. Our results emphasize the importance of vegetation physiology in determining the responses of tree abundance to climate variations in tropical savannas and suggest that projected increases in rainfall intensity may lead to an increase in grass in this biome. PMID:26438847

  19. 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. PMID:25039765

  20. Determining Connections between the Daily Lives of Zoo Elephants and Their Welfare: An Epidemiological Approach

    PubMed Central

    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

  1. Self-recognition in an Asian elephant.

    PubMed

    Plotnik, Joshua M; de Waal, Frans B M; Reiss, Diana

    2006-11-01

    Considered an indicator of self-awareness, mirror self-recognition (MSR) has long seemed limited to humans and apes. In both phylogeny and human ontogeny, MSR is thought to correlate with higher forms of empathy and altruistic behavior. Apart from humans and apes, dolphins and elephants are also known for such capacities. After the recent discovery of MSR in dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), elephants thus were the next logical candidate species. We exposed three Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) to a large mirror to investigate their responses. Animals that possess MSR typically progress through four stages of behavior when facing a mirror: (i) social responses, (ii) physical inspection (e.g., looking behind the mirror), (iii) repetitive mirror-testing behavior, and (iv) realization of seeing themselves. Visible marks and invisible sham-marks were applied to the elephants' heads to test whether they would pass the litmus "mark test" for MSR in which an individual spontaneously uses a mirror to touch an otherwise imperceptible mark on its own body. Here, we report a successful MSR elephant study and report striking parallels in the progression of responses to mirrors among apes, dolphins, and elephants. These parallels suggest convergent cognitive evolution most likely related to complex sociality and cooperation. PMID:17075063

  2. Patch-occupancy models indicate human activity as major determinant of forest elephant Loxodonta cyclotis seasonal distribution in an industrial corridor in Gabon

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Buij, R.; McShea, W.J.; Campbell, P.; Lee, M.E.; Dallmeier, F.; Guimondou, S.; Mackaga, L.; Guisseougou, N.; Mboumba, S.; Hines, J.E.; Nichols, J.D.; Alonso, A.

    2007-01-01

    The importance of human activity and ecological features in influencing African forest elephant ranging behaviour was investigated in the Rabi-Ndogo corridor of the Gamba Complex of Protected Areas in southwest Gabon. Locations in a wide geographical area with a range of environmental variables were selected for patch-occupancy surveys using elephant dung to assess seasonal presence and absence of elephants. Patch-occupancy procedures allowed for covariate modelling evaluating hypotheses for both occupancy in relation to human activity and ecological features, and detection probability in relation to vegetation density. The best fitting models for old and fresh dung data sets indicate that (1) detection probability for elephant dung is negatively related to the relative density of the vegetation, and (2) human activity, such as presence and infrastructure, are more closely associated with elephant distribution patterns than are ecological features, such as the presence of wetlands and preferred fresh fruit. Our findings emphasize the sensitivity of elephants to human disturbance, in this case infrastructure development associated with gas and oil production. Patch-occupancy methodology offers a viable alternative to current transect protocols for monitoring programs with multiple covariates.

  3. The climatic sensitivity of the forest, savanna and forest-savanna transition in tropical South America.

    PubMed

    Hirota, Marina; Nobre, Carlos; Oyama, Marcos Daisuke; Bustamante, Mercedes M C

    2010-08-01

    *We used a climate-vegetation-natural fire (CVNF) conceptual model to evaluate the sensitivity and vulnerability of forest, savanna, and the forest-savanna transition to environmental changes in tropical South America. *Initially, under current environmental conditions, CVNF model results suggested that, in the absence of fires, tropical forests would extend c. 200 km into the presently observed savanna domain. *Environmental changes were then imposed upon the model in temperature, precipitation and lightning strikes. These changes ranged from 2 to 6 degrees C warming, +10 to -20% precipitation change and 0 to 15% increase in lightning frequency, which, in aggregate form, represent expected future climatic changes in response to global warming and deforestation. *The most critical vegetation changes are projected to take place over the easternmost portions of the basin, with a widening of the forest-savanna transition. The transition width would increase from 150 to c. 300 km, with tree cover losses ranging from 20 to 85%. This means that c. 6% of the areas currently covered by forests could potentially turn into grass-dominated savanna landscapes. The mechanism driving tree cover reduction consists of the combination of less favorable climate conditions for trees and more fire activity. In addition, this sensitivity analysis predicts that the current dry shrubland vegetation of northeast Brazil could potentially turn into a bare soil landscape. PMID:20609116

  4. Investigating the seismic signal of elephants: using seismology to mitigate elephant human conflict

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Webb, S. J.; Manzi, M.; Naidoo, A.; Raveloson, A.

    2015-12-01

    Human interactions with wild elephants are often a source of conflict, as elephants invade inhabited lands looking for sustenance. In order to mitigate these interactions, a number of elephant defense systems are under development. These include electric fences, bees and the playback of warning calls recorded from elephants. With the discovery that elephants use seismic signals to communicate (O'Connell-Rodwell et al., 2006, Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.), it is hoped that seismic signals can also be used to help reduce conflict. Our current research project investigates the spectral content of the elephant seismic signal that travels through the ground using a variety of geophones and seismometers. Our experimental setup used a Geometrics Geode 24 channel seismic system with an array of 24 geophones spaced 1 m apart in an area of compact soil overlying weathered granites. Initially we used 14 Hz vertical geophones. The ground and ambient noise conditions were characterized by recording several hammer shots. These were used to identify the air wave, wind noise, and the direct wave, which had a dominant frequency of ~50 Hz. Several trained elephants that 'rumble' on command were then deployed ~5 m perpendicular to a line of 24 (14 Hz) vertical geophones between the 1 and 10 m geophone positions. We recorded a number of different elephants and configurations, and digitally recorded video for comparison. An additional deployment of 20 (14 Hz) horizontal geophones was also used. For all data, the sample interval was 0.25 ms and the recording length was 16 s as the timing of the rumbles could not be precisely controlled. We were able to identify the airwave due to the elephant's rumble with velocities between 305-310 m/s and the ground seismic signal due to the rumble with frequencies between 20-30 Hz. Our next experiment will include broadband seismometers at a further distance, to more fully characterize the frequency content of the elephant signal.

  5. Walking Behavior of Zoo Elephants: Associations between GPS-Measured Daily Walking Distances and Environmental Factors, Social Factors, and Welfare Indicators

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

    Research with humans and other animals suggests that walking benefits physical health. Perhaps because these links have been demonstrated in other species, it has been suggested that walking is important to elephant welfare, and that zoo elephant exhibits should be designed to allow for more walking. Our study is the first to address this suggestion empirically by measuring the mean daily walking distance of elephants in North American zoos, determining the factors that are associated with variations in walking distance, and testing for associations between walking and welfare indicators. We used anklets equipped with GPS data loggers to measure outdoor daily walking distance in 56 adult female African (n = 33) and Asian (n = 23) elephants housed in 30 North American zoos. We collected 259 days of data and determined associations between distance walked and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. Elephants walked an average of 5.3 km/day with no significant difference between species. In our multivariable model, more diverse feeding regimens were correlated with increased walking, and elephants who were fed on a temporally unpredictable feeding schedule walked 1.29 km/day more than elephants fed on a predictable schedule. Distance walked was also positively correlated with an increase in the number of social groupings and negatively correlated with age. We found a small but significant negative correlation between distance walked and nighttime Space Experience, but no other associations between walking distances and exhibit size were found. Finally, distance walked was not related to health or behavioral outcomes including foot health, joint health, body condition, and the performance of stereotypic behavior, suggesting that more research is necessary to determine explicitly how differences in walking may impact elephant welfare. PMID:27414411

  6. Walking Behavior of Zoo Elephants: Associations between GPS-Measured Daily Walking Distances and Environmental Factors, Social Factors, and Welfare Indicators.

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

    Research with humans and other animals suggests that walking benefits physical health. Perhaps because these links have been demonstrated in other species, it has been suggested that walking is important to elephant welfare, and that zoo elephant exhibits should be designed to allow for more walking. Our study is the first to address this suggestion empirically by measuring the mean daily walking distance of elephants in North American zoos, determining the factors that are associated with variations in walking distance, and testing for associations between walking and welfare indicators. We used anklets equipped with GPS data loggers to measure outdoor daily walking distance in 56 adult female African (n = 33) and Asian (n = 23) elephants housed in 30 North American zoos. We collected 259 days of data and determined associations between distance walked and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. Elephants walked an average of 5.3 km/day with no significant difference between species. In our multivariable model, more diverse feeding regimens were correlated with increased walking, and elephants who were fed on a temporally unpredictable feeding schedule walked 1.29 km/day more than elephants fed on a predictable schedule. Distance walked was also positively correlated with an increase in the number of social groupings and negatively correlated with age. We found a small but significant negative correlation between distance walked and nighttime Space Experience, but no other associations between walking distances and exhibit size were found. Finally, distance walked was not related to health or behavioral outcomes including foot health, joint health, body condition, and the performance of stereotypic behavior, suggesting that more research is necessary to determine explicitly how differences in walking may impact elephant welfare. PMID:27414411

  7. Environmental resource management on the Munduruku savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sheffler, E. Margaret; Southwick, Edward E.

    1984-05-01

    For 13 years, the Munduruku were observed living in the savanna region located in South America in the Brazilian state of Pará. The area is near the point where the states of Pará, Amazonas, and Mato Grosso join their borders, and is utilized by about 200 300 Munduruku Amerindians. Their subsistence staple is manioc (a cassava), with fruits and meat included in the diet. Gold mining by Brazilians is a disruptive element in the resource management of the savanna habitat on the rim of the Amazon Basin. Direct and indirect results of mining interference are described. A study of the manner in which the Munduruku on the Cururu River (a tributary of the Tapajós) have handled the potentially disruptive rubber tapping suggests possible ways of reversing the interference. Several courses of action are discussed.

  8. Environmental resource management of the Munduruku savanna

    SciTech Connect

    Sheffler, E.M.; Southwick, E.E.

    1984-05-01

    For 13 years, the Munduruku were observed living in the savanna region located in South America in the Brazilian state of Para. The area is near the point where the states of Para, Amazonas, and Mato Grosso join their borders, and is utilized by about 200-300 Munduruku Amerindians. Their subsistence staple is manioc (a cassava), with fruits and meat included in the diet. Gold mining by Brazilians is a disruptive element in the resource management of the savanna habitat on the rim of the Amazon Basin. Direct and indirect results of mining interference are described. A study of the manner in which the Munduruku on the Cururu River (a tributary of the Tapajos) have handled the potentially disruptive rubber tapping suggests possible ways of reversing the interference. Several courses of action are discussed. 14 references, 3 figures, 2 tables.

  9. Crown cover chart for oak savannas. Forest Service technical brief

    SciTech Connect

    Law, J.R.; Johnson, P.S.; Houf, G.

    1994-07-01

    Although oak savannas have been defined in many ways, they are characterized by scattered trees, largely comprised of oaks, and a sparse ground layer rich in grasses and forbs. The crown cover chart can be used to estimate the crown cover of trees as a percent of total area. Potential applications of the chart include monitoring changes in savanna crown cover, determining needed reductions in crown cover, and defining the savanna state. in restoring savannas that have grown into closed canopy stands, one can use the chart to estimate initial crown cover before restoration work is begun and again after crown cover has been reduced.

  10. Biomechanics of locomotion in Asian elephants.

    PubMed

    Genin, J J; Willems, P A; Cavagna, G A; Lair, R; Heglund, N C

    2010-03-01

    Elephants are the biggest living terrestrial animal, weighing up to five tons and measuring up to three metres at the withers. These exceptional dimensions provide certain advantages (e.g. the mass-specific energetic cost of locomotion is decreased) but also disadvantages (e.g. forces are proportional to body volume while supportive tissue strength depends on their cross-sectional area, which makes elephants relatively more fragile than smaller animals). In order to understand better how body size affects gait mechanics the movement of the centre of mass (COM) of 34 Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) was studied over their entire speed range of 0.4-5.0 m s(-1) with force platforms. The mass-specific mechanical work required to maintain the movements of the COM per unit distance is approximately 0.2 J kg(-1) m(-1) (about 1/3 of the average of other animals ranging in size from a 35 g kangaroo rat to a 70 kg human). At low speeds this work is reduced by a pendulum-like exchange between the kinetic and potential energies of the COM, with a maximum energy exchange of approximately 60% at 1.4 m s(-1). At high speeds, elephants use a bouncing mechanism with little exchange between kinetic and potential energies of the COM, although without an aerial phase. Elephants increase speed while reducing the vertical oscillation of the COM from about 3 cm to 1 cm. PMID:20154184

  11. Insightful problem solving in an Asian elephant.

    PubMed

    Foerder, Preston; Galloway, Marie; Barthel, Tony; Moore, Donald E; Reiss, Diana

    2011-01-01

    The "aha" moment or the sudden arrival of the solution to a problem is a common human experience. Spontaneous problem solving without evident trial and error behavior in humans and other animals has been referred to as insight. Surprisingly, elephants, thought to be highly intelligent, have failed to exhibit insightful problem solving in previous cognitive studies. We tested whether three Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) would use sticks or other objects to obtain food items placed out-of-reach and overhead. Without prior trial and error behavior, a 7-year-old male Asian elephant showed spontaneous problem solving by moving a large plastic cube, on which he then stood, to acquire the food. In further testing he showed behavioral flexibility, using this technique to reach other items and retrieving the cube from various locations to use as a tool to acquire food. In the cube's absence, he generalized this tool utilization technique to other objects and, when given smaller objects, stacked them in an attempt to reach the food. The elephant's overall behavior was consistent with the definition of insightful problem solving. Previous failures to demonstrate this ability in elephants may have resulted not from a lack of cognitive ability but from the presentation of tasks requiring trunk-held sticks as potential tools, thereby interfering with the trunk's use as a sensory organ to locate the targeted food. PMID:21876741

  12. Fire in Australian savannas: from leaf to landscape

    PubMed Central

    Beringer, Jason; Hutley, Lindsay B; Abramson, David; Arndt, Stefan K; Briggs, Peter; Bristow, Mila; Canadell, Josep G; Cernusak, Lucas A; Eamus, Derek; Edwards, Andrew C; Evans, Bradley J; Fest, Benedikt; Goergen, Klaus; Grover, Samantha P; Hacker, Jorg; Haverd, Vanessa; Kanniah, Kasturi; Livesley, Stephen J; Lynch, Amanda; Maier, Stefan; Moore, Caitlin; Raupach, Michael; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Scheiter, Simon; Tapper, Nigel J; Uotila, Petteri

    2015-01-01

    Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km2) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have coevolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here, we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management. PMID:25044767

  13. Fire in Australian Savannas: from leaf to landscape

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beringer, J.

    2015-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km2) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have co-evolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management.

  14. Fire in Australian savannas: from leaf to landscape.

    PubMed

    Beringer, Jason; Hutley, Lindsay B; Abramson, David; Arndt, Stefan K; Briggs, Peter; Bristow, Mila; Canadell, Josep G; Cernusak, Lucas A; Eamus, Derek; Edwards, Andrew C; Evans, Bradley J; Fest, Benedikt; Goergen, Klaus; Grover, Samantha P; Hacker, Jorg; Haverd, Vanessa; Kanniah, Kasturi; Livesley, Stephen J; Lynch, Amanda; Maier, Stefan; Moore, Caitlin; Raupach, Michael; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Scheiter, Simon; Tapper, Nigel J; Uotila, Petteri

    2015-01-01

    Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km2) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have coevolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here, we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management. PMID:25044767

  15. Vertical Transmission of Social Roles Drives Resilience to Poaching in Elephant Networks.

    PubMed

    Goldenberg, Shifra Z; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Wittemyer, George

    2016-01-11

    Network resilience to perturbation is fundamental to functionality in systems ranging from synthetic communication networks to evolved social organization [1]. While theoretical work offers insight into causes of network robustness, examination of natural networks can identify evolved mechanisms of resilience and how they are related to the selective pressures driving structure. Female African elephants (Loxodonta africana) exhibit complex social networks with node heterogeneity in which older individuals serve as connectivity hubs [2, 3]. Recent ivory poaching targeting older elephants in a well-studied population has mirrored the targeted removal of highly connected nodes in the theoretical literature that leads to structural collapse [4, 5]. Here we tested the response of this natural network to selective knockouts. We find that the hierarchical network topology characteristic of elephant societies was highly conserved across the 16-year study despite ∼70% turnover in individual composition of the population. At a population level, the oldest available individuals persisted to fill socially central positions in the network. For analyses using known mother-daughter pairs, social positions of daughters during the disrupted period were predicted by those of their mothers in years prior, were unrelated to individual histories of family mortality, and were actively built. As such, daughters replicated the social network roles of their mothers, driving the observed network resilience. Our study provides a rare bridge between network theory and an evolved system, demonstrating social redundancy to be the mechanism by which resilience to perturbation occurred in this socially advanced species. PMID:26711491

  16. CLINICAL INFECTION OF TWO CAPTIVE ASIAN ELEPHANTS (ELEPHAS MAXIMUS) WITH ELEPHANT ENDOTHELIOTROPIC HERPESVIRUS 1B.

    PubMed

    Fuery, Angela; Tan, Jie; Peng, RongSheng; Flanagan, Joseph P; Tocidlowski, Maryanne E; Howard, Lauren L; Ling, Paul D

    2016-03-01

    The ability of prior infection from one elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) type to protect against clinical or lethal infection from others remains an important question. This report describes viremia and subsequent shedding of EEHV1B in two juvenile 4-yr-old Asian elephants within 3 wk or 2 mo following significant infections caused by the rarely seen EEHV4. High levels of EEHV1B shedding were detected in the first elephant prior to emergence of infection and viremia in the second animal. The EEHV1B virus associated with both infections was identical to the strain causing infection in two herd mates previously. High EEHV viremia correlated with leukopenia and thrombocytopenia, which was followed by leukocytosis and thrombocytosis when clinical signs started to resolve. The observations from these cases should be beneficial for helping other institutions monitor and treat elephants infected with EEHV1, the most common virus associated with lethal hemorrhagic disease. PMID:27010294

  17. Fire-free land use in pre-1492 Amazonian savannas

    PubMed Central

    Iriarte, José; Power, Mitchell J.; Rostain, Stéphen; Mayle, Francis E.; Jones, Huw; Watling, Jennifer; Whitney, Bronwen S.; McKey, Doyle B.

    2012-01-01

    The nature and scale of pre-Columbian land use and the consequences of the 1492 “Columbian Encounter” (CE) on Amazonia are among the more debated topics in New World archaeology and paleoecology. However, pre-Columbian human impact in Amazonian savannas remains poorly understood. Most paleoecological studies have been conducted in neotropical forest contexts. Of studies done in Amazonian savannas, none has the temporal resolution needed to detect changes induced by either climate or humans before and after A.D. 1492, and only a few closely integrate paleoecological and archaeological data. We report a high-resolution 2,150-y paleoecological record from a French Guianan coastal savanna that forces reconsideration of how pre-Columbian savanna peoples practiced raised-field agriculture and how the CE impacted these societies and environments. Our combined pollen, phytolith, and charcoal analyses reveal unexpectedly low levels of biomass burning associated with pre-A.D. 1492 savanna raised-field agriculture and a sharp increase in fires following the arrival of Europeans. We show that pre-Columbian raised-field farmers limited burning to improve agricultural production, contrasting with extensive use of fire in pre-Columbian tropical forest and Central American savanna environments, as well as in present-day savannas. The charcoal record indicates that extensive fires in the seasonally flooded savannas of French Guiana are a post-Columbian phenomenon, postdating the collapse of indigenous populations. The discovery that pre-Columbian farmers practiced fire-free savanna management calls into question the widely held assumption that pre-Columbian Amazonian farmers pervasively used fire to manage and alter ecosystems and offers fresh perspectives on an emerging alternative approach to savanna land use and conservation that can help reduce carbon emissions. PMID:22493248

  18. Managing the matrix: decadal responses of eucalypt-dominated savanna to ambient fire regimes.

    PubMed

    Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Price, Owen F; Murphy, Brett P

    2010-09-01

    Much of our understanding of the response of savanna systems to fire disturbance relies on observations derived from manipulative fire plot studies. Equivocal findings from both recent Australian and African savanna fire plot assessments have significant implications for informing conservation management and reliable estimation of biomass stocks and dynamics. Influential northern Australian replicated fire plot studies include the 24-year plot-scale Munmarlary and the five-year catchment-scale Kapalga, mesic savanna (> 1000 mm/yr of rainfall) experiments in present-day Kakadu National Park. At Munmarlary, under low-to-moderate-intensity fire treatments, woody vegetation dominated by mature eucalypts was found to be structurally stable. At Kapalga, substantial declines in woody biomass were observed under more intense fire treatments, and modeling assessments implicate early-season fires as having adverse effects on longer-term tree recruitment. Given these contrasting perspectives, here we take advantage of a landscape-scale fire response monitoring program established on three major northern Australian conservation reserves (Kakadu, Litchfield, and Nitmiluk National Parks). Using statistical modeling we assess the decadal effects of ambient fire regime parameters (fire frequency, severity, seasonality, time since fire) on 32 vegetation structure components and abundance of 21 tree and 16 grass species from 122 monitoring plots. Over the study period the mean annual frequency of burning of plots was 0.53, comprising mostly early-dry-season, low-severity fires. Structural and species responses were variable but often substantial, notably resulting in stem recruitment and declines in juveniles, but only weakly explained by fire regime and habitat variables. Modeling of these observations under three realistic scenarios (increased fire severity under projected worsening climate change; modest and significant reductions in fire frequency to meet conservation criteria

  19. Defoliation by pastoralists affects savanna tree seedling dynamics by limiting the facilitative role of canopy cover.

    PubMed

    Bufford, Jennifer L; Gaoue, Orou G

    2015-07-01

    Recurrent tree defoliation by pastoralists, akin to herbivory, can negatively affect plant reproduction and population dynamics. However, our understanding of the indirect role of defoliation in seedling recruitment and tree-grass dynamics in tropical savanna is limited. In West African savanna, Fulani pastoralists frequently defoliate several fodder tree species to feed livestock in the dry season. We investigated the direct and indirect effects of recurrent defoliation of African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) by Fulani people on seedling (< 2 cm basal diameter) and sapling dynamics in West Africa using four years of demographic data on seedling and sapling density, growth, and survival, coupled with fruit production and microhabitat data over the same time period. Tree canopy cover facilitated seedlings but had negative effects on sapling growth possibly via intraspecific competition with adult plants. Interspecific competition with grasses strongly reduced seedling survival but had a weak effect on sapling growth. Fire reduced seedling survival and weakly reduced growth of seedlings and saplings, but did not affect sapling survival. These results indicate that the effect of fire on seedlings and saplings is distinct, a mechanism suitable for an episodic recruitment of seedlings into the sapling stage and consistent with predictions from the demographic bottleneck model. Defoliation affected seedling density and sapling growth through changes in canopy cover, but had no effect on seedling growth and sapling survival. In the moist region, sapling density was higher in sites with low-intensity defoliation, indicating that defoliation may strengthen the tree recruitment bottleneck. Our study suggests that large-scale defoliation can alter the facilitative role of nurse trees on seedling dynamics and tree-sapling competition. Given that tree defoliation by local people is a widespread activity throughout savanna-forest systems in West Africa, it has the potential to

  20. Sticky snack for sengis: The Cape rock elephant-shrew, Elephantulus edwardii (Macroscelidea), as a pollinator of the Pagoda lily, Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wester, Petra

    2010-12-01

    Following the recent discovery of rodent pollination in the Pagoda lily, Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae) in South Africa, now the Cape rock elephant-shrew, Elephantulus edwardii (Macroscelidea, Afrotheria) is reported as an additional pollinator. Elephant-shrews, live-trapped near W. bifolia plants, were released in two terraria, containing the plants. The animals licked nectar with their long and slender tongues while being dusted with pollen and touching the stigmas of the flowers with their long and flexible noses. The captured elephant-shrews had W. bifolia pollen in their faeces, likely as a result of grooming their fur as they visited the flowers without eating or destroying them. The animals mostly preferred nectar over other food. This is the first record of pollination and nectar consumption in the primarily insectivorous E. edwardii, contributing to the very sparse knowledge about the behaviour of this unique clade of African mammals, as well as pollination by small mammals.

  1. A Comprehensive Approach for Modelling Elephant Habitat within the Network of Protected Areas Oti-Keran-Mandouri in Togo (West Africa)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Polo-Akpisso, A.; Coulibaly, M.; Soulemane, O.; Wala, K.; Tano, Y.

    2015-12-01

    The network of protected areas Oti-Keran-Mandouri (OKM) is part of one of the most important ecogeographical region for the African savannah elephant conservation in West Africa. However, OKM is under high anthropogenic pressure but it is still considered as a first priority corridor for elephant migration. Therefore a comprehensive suitability model was developed in a GIS environment to identify remaining suitable patch of habitat. Considering the ecology of the African Savannah elephant, criteria such as pound thickness, distance to rivers, distance to roads, distance to settlements, Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were standardized using appropriate fuzzy membership functions and sum overlaid. A set of elephant occurrence data from park managers and from casual sighting was used as test data. About 29.01 % of the area of OKM was classified as suitable habitat whereas 60.84 % and 10.14% were respectively considered as somewhat and less suitable habitats. About 36.5% of the occurrence data felt in the suitable area while 62.16% in the somewhat suitable area. Forest lands were the main contributor to the suitable habitat whereas others land cover types (savannahs, wetlands and croplands) contributed mostly to the somewhat suitable habitat (60.97% to 63.43%). The Habitat Unit Index (HUI) for suitable habitat shows that forests are the most preferred vegetation type (0.49) followed by wetlands (0.32) and savannah (0.31). Despite the high anthropogenic pressure on OKM, there are still potential suitable patches of elephant habitat. Improvement of management and restauration activities could enable OKM to play a key role in biodiversity conservation in West Africa by allowing the seasonal migration of elephants. This study gives an insight on the availability of suitable habitat within OKM, however, further investigation is needed to refine the model and to assess habitat fragmentation.

  2. Supporting elephant conservation in Sri Lanka through MODIS imagery

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perera, Kithsiri; Tateishi, Ryutaro

    2012-10-01

    The latest national elephant survey of Sri Lanka (2011) revealed Sri Lanka has 5,879 elephants. The total forest cover for these elephants is about 19,500 sq km (2012 estimation) and estimated forest area is about 30% of the country when smaller green patches are also counted. However, studies have pointed out that a herd of elephants need about a 100 sq km of forest patch to survive. With a high human population density (332 people per sq km, 2010), the pressure for land to feed people and elephants is becoming critical. Resent reports have indicated about 250 elephants are killed annually by farmers and dozens of people are also killed by elephants. Under this context, researchers are investigating various methods to assess the elephant movements to address the issues of Human-Elephant-Conflict (HEC). Apart from various local remedies for the issue, the conservation of elephant population can be supported by satellite imagery based studies. MODIS sensor imagery can be considered as a successful candidate here. Its spatial resolution is low (250m x 250m) but automatically filters out small forest patches in the mapping process. The daily imagery helps to monitor temporal forest cover changes. This study investigated the background information of HEC and used MODIS 250m imagery to suggest applicability of satellite data for Elephant conservations efforts. The elephant movement information was gathered from local authorities and potentials to identify bio-corridors were discussed. Under future research steps, regular forest cover monitoring through MODIS data was emphasized as a valuable tool in elephant conservations efforts.

  3. Africa's elephants and rhinos: Flagships in crisis.

    PubMed

    Western, D

    1987-11-01

    Despite extensive conservation measures over the last two decades, populations of elephants and rhinos in Africa continue to decline. The plight of the black rhino is especially acute. Poaching for rhino horn and ivory, rather than habitat loss, remains the principal threat to these species. The only long-term hope may lie in the effective protection of small, isolated populations. PMID:21227879

  4. Elephant teeth from the atlantic continental shelf

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Whitmore, F.C., Jr.; Emery, K.O.; Cooke, H.B.S.; Swift, D.J.P.

    1967-01-01

    Teeth of mastodons and mastodons have been recovered by fishermen from at least 40 sites on the continental shelf as deep as 120 meters. Also present are submerged shorelines, peat deposits, lagoonal shells, and relict sands. Evidently elephants and other large mammals ranged this region during the glacial stage of low sea level of the last 25.000 years.

  5. Urinalysis in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Wiedner, Ellen; Alleman, A Rick; Isaza, Ramiro

    2009-12-01

    Urine was collected from 22 healthy female adult Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and analyzed for the purpose of determining normal biochemical and microscopic parameters. Findings included urine that was less concentrated compared to other mammals, predominantly alkaline pH, crystalluria of varying types in all samples, and minimal cellularity. Glucose and urobilinogen were not detected in any samples. Trace ketones and trace bilirubin occurred in two different samples. Trace blood was identified in another sample. Three samples tested positive for protein via dipstick but were confirmed negative through the sulfosalicylic acid test. Two samples contained mucus threads. Bacteria were seen microscopically in four samples, and could be cultured from six others, but, because of the lack of an associated inflammatory response and the heterogeneous populations of organisms observed, were considered to be contaminants from the distal urethra, the vestibulovulva, or the environment. Because of the variability in elephant urine, baseline values for elephants within captive herds should be obtained and regular assessments should be performed over time to allow trending of data. Establishment of normal urine values provides an important tool in elephant health care. PMID:20063811

  6. ELEPHANT ENDOTHELIOTROPIC HERPESVIRUS 5, A NEWLY RECOGNIZED ELEPHANT HERPESVIRUS ASSOCIATED WITH CLINICAL AND SUBCLINICAL INFECTIONS IN CAPTIVE ASIAN ELEPHANTS (ELEPHAS MAXIMUS)

    PubMed Central

    Atkins, Lisa; Zong, Jian-Chao; Tan, Jie; Mejia, Alicia; Heaggans, Sarah Y.; Nofs, Sally A.; Stanton, Jeffrey J.; Flanagan, Joseph P.; Howard, Lauren; Latimer, Erin; Stevens, Martina R.; Hoffman, Daryl S.; Hayward, Gary S.; Ling, Paul D.

    2013-01-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) can cause acute hemorrhagic disease with high mortality rates in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Recently, a new EEHV type known as EEHV5 has been described, but its prevalence and clinical significance remain unknown. In this report, an outbreak of EEHV5 infection in a herd of captive Asian elephants in a zoo was characterized. In February 2011, a 42-yr-old wild-born female Asian elephant presented with bilaterally swollen temporal glands, oral mucosal hyperemia, vesicles on the tongue, and generalized lethargy. The elephant had a leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. She was treated with flunixin meglumine, famciclovir, and fluids. Clinical signs of illness resolved gradually over 2 wk, and the white blood cell count and platelets rebounded to higher-than-normal values. EEHV5 viremia was detectable starting 1 wk before presentation and peaked at the onset of clinical illness. EEHV5 shedding in trunk secretions peaked after viremia resolved and continued for more than 2 mo. EEHV5 trunk shedding from a female herd mate without any detectable viremia was detected prior to onset of clinical disease in the 42-yr-old elephant, indicating reactivation rather than primary infection in this elephant. Subsequent EEHV5 viremia and trunk shedding was documented in the other five elephants in the herd, who remained asymptomatic, except for 1 day of temporal gland swelling in an otherwise-healthy 1-yr-old calf. Unexpectedly, the two elephants most recently introduced into the herd 40 mo previously shed a distinctive EEHV5 strain from that seen in the other five elephants. This is the first report to document the kinetics of EEHV5 infection in captive Asian elephants and to provide evidence that this virus can cause illness in some animals. PMID:23505714

  7. Seasonal variations in methane and nitrous oxide emissions factors in northern Australian savanna woodlands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meyer, C. P.(Mick); Cook, Garry; Reisen, Fabienne; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Maier, Stefan; Schatz, Jon; Yates, Cameron; Watt, Felicity

    2010-05-01

    Burning of savannas and grasslands consumes more than one third of the total annual biomass burning globally. In Australia, savanna fires emit annually from 2% to 4% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. This has led to efforts to reduce savanna burning emissions through early season prescribed burning. These programs aim to change the fire seasonality from predominantly high intensity late season fires which are characterized by low levels of patchiness and high burning efficiencies to early-season fires characterized by low intensity, a high degree of patchiness and low burning efficiency. The result is a net reduction in fire area and associated carbon emissions. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is predicated on there being little change in methane (CH4) or nitrous oxide (N2O) emission factors (EFs) as the fire season progresses, however, recent analysis of the emission characteristics of African savanna fires by Korontzi et al., indicates CH4-EF, in particular, could decline substantially as the fire season progresses. If this also occurs in Australian savanna woodlands, then the current mitigation strategy could be ineffective. To address the issue a series of field campaigns were undertaken in the savanna woodlands of Western Arnhem land, Australia to quantify the variability in CH4 and N2O EFs throughout the fire season. This study compared CH4 and N2O EFs measured in smoke sampled from prescribed burning in late June/early July with those from late season fires in early October. It concentrated on the two major vegetation classes in Western Arnhemland; eucalypt open woodland, in which the fuel is composed predominantly tree leaf-litter supplemented by senescent native Sorghum, and sandstone heaths which are dominated by Spinifex hummocks. There were no significant differences in CH4 EFs between early or late season fires, however there were substantial differences between vegetation classes. The woodland emitted 0.3% of fuel carbon as CH4 compared

  8. Termites facilitate and ungulates limit savanna tree regeneration.

    PubMed

    Støen, Ole-Gunnar; Okullo, Paul; Eid, Tron; Moe, Stein R

    2013-08-01

    Both large herbivores and termites are key functional groups in savanna ecosystems, and in many savanna areas, large termite mounds (termitaria) are associated with distinct woody clusters. Studies on the effect of large mammals on tree regeneration are few, and the results are conflicting. Large herbivores have been found to be important seedling predators in some areas, but facilitate tree regeneration by outcompeting small mammals and reducing grass cover in other areas. Through the use of the experimental fencing of termite mounds and adjacent savanna areas in this study, we investigated how termites and large herbivores influence tree regeneration. Termite mounds had a higher number of seedlings, more species richness, more alpha diversity (OD) and lower evenness (E) than savanna plots. Large herbivores did not significantly affect overall seedling density, species richness, OD or E. Beta diversity was higher in savanna areas than on termitaria, and beta diversity decreased in savanna areas when herbivores were excluded. Herbivore exclusion increased the density of the 12 (40%) most common seedling species, representing 79% of all seedlings, and fenced plots had relatively taller seedlings than open plots. Thus, termites were the main determinants of tree regeneration in our study area, but large mammals regulated the most common species. Although our study confirms previous work suggesting that large herbivores affect tree regeneration, we found that termites were an even more important determinant. Termite impacts on tree regeneration deserve increased attention by savanna ecologists. PMID:23269321

  9. Sperm DNA fragmentation and morphological degeneration in chilled elephant (Elephas maximus and Loxodonta Africana) semen collected by transrectal massage.

    PubMed

    O'Brien, J K; Steinman, K J; Montano, G A; Love, C C; Robeck, T R

    2013-05-01

    Ejaculates from nine Asian and two African elephants were analysed to gain a further understanding of mechanisms underlying variable semen quality after transrectal massage. Semen analysis was performed after collection (0 h; subjective motility parameters only) and after 24 h of chilled storage at 10 °C (24 h; all ejaculate and sperm characteristics). Ejaculates with ≤50% total motility (TM) at 24 h, which represented >90% of collection attempts, contained a sperm population with a high degree of DNA damage (64.2 ± 19.2% fragmented DNA) and an elevated incidence of detached heads (43.3 ± 22.5%). In contrast, good quality ejaculates designated as those with >50% TM at 24 h displayed higher (p < 0.05) values of sperm kinetic parameters, DNA integrity and normal morphology. Fertility potential was high for good quality ejaculates from two males (one Asian and one African bull) based on in vitro characteristics after chilled storage for up to 48 h post-collection. Urine contamination of semen, as assessed quantitatively by creatinine concentration, was confirmed as a significant factor in reduced elephant ejaculate quality. However, the identification of considerable DNA damage and morphological degeneration in the majority of ejaculates after only 24 h of chilled storage indicates that sperm ageing could be a primary contributor to inconsistent semen quality in the elephant. PMID:23536498

  10. Beyond Precipitation: Physiographic Gradients Dictate the Relative Importance of Environmental Drivers on Savanna Vegetation

    PubMed Central

    Campo-Bescós, Miguel A.; Muñoz-Carpena, Rafael; Kaplan, David A.; Southworth, Jane; Zhu, Likai; Waylen, Peter R.

    2013-01-01

    Background Understanding the drivers of large-scale vegetation change is critical to managing landscapes and key to predicting how projected climate and land use changes will affect regional vegetation patterns. This study aimed to improve our understanding of the role, magnitude and spatial distribution of the key environmental factors driving vegetation change in southern African savanna, and how they vary across physiographic gradients. Methodology/Principal Findings We applied Dynamic Factor Analysis (DFA), a multivariate times series dimension reduction technique to ten years of monthly remote sensing data (MODIS-derived normalized difference vegetation index, NDVI) and a suite of environmental covariates: precipitation, mean and maximum temperature, soil moisture, relative humidity, fire and potential evapotranspiration. Monthly NDVI was described by cyclic seasonal variation with distinct spatiotemporal patterns in different physiographic regions. Results support existing work emphasizing the importance of precipitation, soil moisture and fire on NDVI, but also reveal overlooked effects of temperature and evapotranspiration, particularly in regions with higher mean annual precipitation. Critically, spatial distributions of the weights of environmental covariates point to a transition in the importance of precipitation and soil moisture (strongest in grass-dominated regions with precipitation<750 mm) to fire, potential evapotranspiration, and temperature (strongest in tree-dominated regions with precipitation>950 mm). Conclusions/Significance We quantified the combined spatiotemporal effects of an available suite of environmental drivers on NDVI across a large and diverse savanna region. The analysis supports known drivers of savanna vegetation but also uncovers important roles of temperature and evapotranspiration. Results highlight the utility of applying the DFA approach to remote sensing products for regional analyses of landscape change in the context of

  11. Molecular phylogeny of Panaspis and Afroablepharus skinks (Squamata: Scincidae) in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa.

    PubMed

    Medina, Maria F; Bauer, Aaron M; Branch, William R; Schmitz, Andreas; Conradie, Werner; Nagy, Zoltán T; Hibbitts, Toby J; Ernst, Raffael; Portik, Daniel M; Nielsen, Stuart V; Colston, Timothy J; Kusamba, Chifundera; Behangana, Mathias; Rödel, Mark-Oliver; Greenbaum, Eli

    2016-07-01

    African snake-eyed skinks are relatively small lizards of the genera Panaspis and Afroablepharus. Species allocation of these genera frequently changed during the 20th century based on morphology, ecology, and biogeography. Members of these genera occur primarily in savanna habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa and include species whose highly conserved morphology poses challenges for taxonomic studies. We sequenced two mitochondrial (16S and cyt b) and two nuclear genes (PDC and RAG1) from 76 Panaspis and Afroablepharus samples from across eastern, central, and southern Africa. Concatenated gene-tree and divergence-dating analyses were conducted to infer phylogenies and biogeographic patterns. Molecular data sets revealed several cryptic lineages, with most radiations occurring during the mid-Miocene to Pliocene. We infer that rifting processes (including the formation of the East African Rift System) and climatic oscillations contributed to the expansion and contraction of savannas, and caused cladogenesis in snake-eyed skinks. Species in Panaspis and Afroablepharus used in this study, including type species for both genera, formed a monophyletic group. As a result, the latter genus should be synonymized with the former, which has priority. Conservatively, we continue to include the West African species P. breviceps and P. togoensis within an expanded Panaspis, but note that they occur in relatively divergent clades, and their taxonomic status may change with improved taxon sampling. Divergence estimates and cryptic speciation patterns of snake-eyed skinks were consistent with previous studies of other savanna vertebrate lineages from the same areas examined in this study. PMID:27118179

  12. Elephant-to-Human Transmission of Tuberculosis, 2009

    PubMed Central

    Warkentin, Jon V.; Dunn, John R.; Schaffner, William; Jones, Timothy F.

    2011-01-01

    In 2009, the Tennessee Department of Health received reports of 5 tuberculin skin test (TST) conversions among employees of an elephant refuge and isolation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from a resident elephant. To determine the extent of the outbreak and identify risk factors for TST conversion, we conducted a cohort study and onsite assessment. Risk for conversion was increased for elephant caregivers and administrative employees working in the barn housing the M. tuberculosis–infected elephant or in offices connected to the barn (risk ratio 20.3, 95% confidence interval 2.8–146.7). Indirect exposure to aerosolized M. tuberculosis and delayed or inadequate infection control practices likely contributed to transmission. The following factors are needed to reduce risk for M. tuberculosis transmission in the captive elephant industry: increased knowledge about M. tuberculosis infection in elephants, improved infection control practices, and specific occupational health programs. PMID:21392425

  13. Seasonal changes of water carbon relations in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, W. L.; Merbold, L.; Archibald, S.

    2011-12-01

    During evolution plant species have developed different strategies to optimize the water carbon relations. These stratgies summarize to ecosystem properties. As an example we show how tropical and subtropical savannas and woodlands can respond flexibly to changes in temperature and water availability and thus optimize carbon and water fluxes between land surface and atmosphere. Several phenomena are presented and discussed in this overview from African flux sites in Zambia, Burkina Faso and South Africa: Pre-rain leaf development: Many trees developed new leaves before the first rain appeared. As a consequence of this early timing of leaf flush, the phenological increase of photosynthetic capacity (Amax) was steeper than in temperate forests. Mid-term response of conductance and photosynthesis to soil water relations: The regulation of canopy conductance was temporally changing in two ways: changes due to phenology during the course of the growing season and short-term (hours to days) acclimation to soil water conditions. The most constant parameter was water use efficiency. It was influenced by water vapour pressure deficit (VPD) during the day, but the VPD response curve of water usage only changed slightly during the course of the growing season, and decreased by about 30% during the transition from wet to dry season. The regulation of canopy conductance and photosynthetic capacity were closely related. This observation meets recent leaf-level findings that stomatal closure triggers down-regulation of Rubisco during drought. Our results may show the effects of these processes on the ecosystem scale. Furthermore, we observed that the close relationship between stomatal conductance and photosynthesis resulted in different temperature optima of GPP that were close to the average daytime temperature. Adaptation of respiration to rain pulses: Finally, the response of respiration to rain pulses showed changes throughout the growing season. The first rain events early

  14. Emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sinha, Parikhit

    2004-12-01

    Airborne measurements are presented of emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa during the dry season. Measurements were obtained aboard the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft during the SAFARI 2000 field project in August and September 2000. Savanna fires in southern Africa emit a wide range of gaseous and particulate species including carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, halogen, and oxygenated compounds. Emission factors, emission ratios, and regional emissions of fifty trace gas and particulate species were derived, including eight species not previously reported in the literature (dimethyl sulfide, methyl nitrate, five species of hydrocarbons, and particles with diameters from 0.1--3 mum diameter). The physical, chemical, and radiative properties of the plume from a large savanna fire in South Africa are characterized, including plume dimensions, secondary formation of ozone and organic acids, oxidation of hydrocarbons, coagulation of particles, and gas-to-particle conversion in aged smoke. Numerous fires, thermodynamically stable layers aloft, and large-scale anticylonic flow result in high concentrations of air pollution distributed throughout the lower troposphere over southern Africa during the dry season. Average regional concentrations of CO (261 +/- 81 ppbv), SO2 (2.5 +/- 1.6 ppbv), O3 (64 +/- 13 ppbv), black particulate carbon (2.3 +/- 1.9 mug m-3), organic particulate carbon (6.2 +/- 5.2 mug m-3), total particle mass (26.0 +/- 4.7 mug m-3) are comparable to those found in polluted urban environments. The GEOS-CHEM model of tropospheric chemistry is used to characterize the transport of biomass burning emissions from southern Africa to the neighboring Atlantic and Indian Oceans during the dry season (May--October) of 2000. A large quantity of biomass burning emissions from southern Africa is transported westward over the latitudes 0--20°S to the southern Atlantic Ocean (˜40 Tg CO from May--October), contributing to a pollution anomaly

  15. Isoleucine epimerization ages of the dwarf elephants of Sicily

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Belluomini, Giorgio; Bada, Jeffrey L.

    1985-07-01

    The isoleucine epimerization reaction has been used to date tooth enamel from dwarf elephants collected from the Sicilian caves of Spinagallo and Puntali. Elephant teeth from the Isernia la Pineta deposit in central Italy, dated at ˜700 ka by potassium-argon (K-Ar) and paleomagnetics, were used for calibration of the isoleucine epimerization rate. The ages determined for the dwarf elephants found at the Spinagallo Cave are considerably older than the more robust dwarf species found at the Puntali Cave. These dates suggest that more than one invasion of continental elephants have taken place on Sicily. The subsequent isolation of the continental species has apparently produced varying stages of dwarfism.

  16. Age-Related Tooth Wear Differs between Forest and Savanna Primates

    PubMed Central

    Galbany, Jordi; Romero, Alejandro; Mayo-Alesón, Mercedes; Itsoma, Fiacre; Gamarra, Beatriz; Pérez-Pérez, Alejandro; Willaume, Eric; Kappeler, Peter M.; Charpentier, Marie J. E.

    2014-01-01

    Tooth wear in primates is caused by aging and ecological factors. However, comparative data that would allow us to delineate the contribution of each of these factors are lacking. Here, we contrast age-dependent molar tooth wear by scoring percent of dentine exposure (PDE) in two wild African primate populations from Gabonese forest and Kenyan savanna habitats. We found that forest-dwelling mandrills exhibited significantly higher PDE with age than savanna yellow baboons. Mandrills mainly feed on large tough food items, such as hard-shell fruits, and inhabit an ecosystem with a high presence of mineral quartz. By contrast, baboons consume large amounts of exogenous grit that adheres to underground storage organs but the proportion of quartz in the soils where baboons live is low. Our results support the hypothesis that not only age but also physical food properties and soil composition, particularly quartz richness, are factors that significantly impact tooth wear. We further propose that the accelerated dental wear in mandrills resulting in flatter molars with old age may represent an adaptation to process hard food items present in their environment. PMID:24732967

  17. CLINICAL INFECTION OF CAPTIVE ASIAN ELEPHANTS (ELEPHAS MAXIMUS) WITH ELEPHANT ENDOTHELIOTROPIC HERPESVIRUS 4.

    PubMed

    Fuery, Angela; Browning, Geoffrey R; Tan, Jie; Long, Simon; Hayward, Gary S; Cox, Sherry K; Flanagan, Joseph P; Tocidlowski, Maryanne E; Howard, Lauren L; Ling, Paul D

    2016-03-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can cause lethal hemorrhagic disease in juvenile Asian elephants. A number of EEHV types and subtypes exist, where most deaths have been caused by EEHV1A and EEHV1B. EEHV4 has been attributed to two deaths, but as both diagnoses were made postmortem, EEHV4 disease has not yet been observed and recorded clinically. In this brief communication, two cases of EEHV4 infection in juvenile elephants at the Houston Zoo are described, where both cases were resolved following intensive treatment and administration of famciclovir. A quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction detected EEHV4 viremia that correlated with clinical signs. High levels of EEHV4 shedding from trunk wash secretions of the first viremic elephant correlated with subsequent infection of the second elephant with EEHV4. It is hoped that the observations made in these cases--and the successful treatment regimen used--will help other institutions identify and treat EEHV4 infection in the future. PMID:27010293

  18. KINETICS OF VIRAL LOADS AND GENOTYPIC ANALYSIS OF ELEPHANT ENDOTHELIOTROPIC HERPESVIRUS-1 INFECTION IN CAPTIVE ASIAN ELEPHANTS (ELEPHAS MAXIMUS)

    PubMed Central

    Stanton, Jeffrey J.; Zong, Jian-Chao; Eng, Crystal; Howard, Lauren; Flanagan, Joe; Stevens, Martina; Schmitt, Dennis; Wiedner, Ellen; Graham, Danielle; Junge, Randall E.; Weber, Martha A.; Fischer, Martha; Mejia, Alicia; Tan, Jie; Latimer, Erin; Herron, Alan; Hayward, Gary S.; Ling, Paul D.

    2013-01-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) can cause fatal hemorrhagic disease in juvenile Asian elephants (Elephas maximus); however, sporadic shedding of virus in trunk washes collected from healthy elephants also has been detected. Data regarding the relationship of viral loads in blood compared with trunk washes are lacking, and questions about whether elephants can undergo multiple infections with EEHVs have not been addressed previously. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the kinetics of EEHV1 loads, and genotypic analysis was performed on EEHV1 DNA detected in various fluid samples obtained from five Asian elephants that survived detectable EEHV1 DNAemia on at least two separate occasions. In three elephants displaying clinical signs of illness, preclinical EEHV1 DNAemia was detectable, and peak whole-blood viral loads occurred 3–8 days after the onset of clinical signs. In two elephants with EEHV1 DNAemia that persisted for 7–21 days, no clinical signs of illness were observed. Detection of EEHV1 DNA in trunk washes peaked approximately 21 days after DNAemia, and viral genotypes detected during DNAemia matched those detected in subsequent trunk washes from the same elephant. In each of the five elephants, two distinct EEHV1 genotypes were identified in whole blood and trunk washes at different time points. In each case, these genotypes represented both an EEHV1A and an EEHV1B subtype. These data suggest that knowledge of viral loads could be useful for the management of elephants before or during clinical illness. Furthermore, sequential infection with both EEHV1 subtypes occurs in Asian elephants, suggesting that they do not elicit cross-protective sterilizing immunity. These data will be useful to individuals involved in the husbandry and clinical care of Asian elephants. PMID:23505702

  19. Lidar remote sensing of savanna biophysical attributes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, David

    Although savanna ecosystems cover approximately 20 % of the terrestrial land surface and can have productivity equal to some closed forests, their role in the global carbon cycle is poorly understood. This study explored the applicability of a past spaceborne Lidar mission and the potential of future missions to estimate canopy height and carbon storage in these biomes. The research used data from two Oak savannas in California, USA: the Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County and the Tonzi Ranch in Santa Clara County. In the first paper we used non-parametric regression techniques to estimate canopy height from waveform parameters derived from the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite's Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (ICESat-GLAS) data. Merely adopting the methods derived for forests did not produce adequate results but the modeling was significantly improved by incorporating canopy cover information and interaction terms to address the high structural heterogeneity inherent to savannas. Paper 2 explored the relationship between canopy height and aboveground biomass. To accomplish this we developed generalized models using the classical least squares regression modeling approach to relate canopy height to above ground woody biomass and then employed Hierarchical Bayesian Analysis (HBA) to explore the implications of using generalized instead of species composition-specific models. Models that incorporated canopy cover proxies performed better than those that did not. Although the model parameters indicated interspecific variability, the distribution of the posterior densities of the differences between composition level and global level parameter values showed a high support for the use of global parameters, suggesting that these canopy height-biomass models are universally (large scale) applicable. As the spatial coverage of spaceborne lidar will remain limited for the immediate future, our objective in paper 3 was to explore the best means of extrapolating

  20. Lidar remote sensing of savanna biophysical attributes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, David

    Although savanna ecosystems cover approximately 20 % of the terrestrial land surface and can have productivity equal to some closed forests, their role in the global carbon cycle is poorly understood. This study explored the applicability of a past spaceborne Lidar mission and the potential of future missions to estimate canopy height and carbon storage in these biomes. The research used data from two Oak savannas in California, USA: the Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County and the Tonzi Ranch in Santa Clara County. In the first paper we used non-parametric regression techniques to estimate canopy height from waveform parameters derived from the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite's Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (ICESat-GLAS) data. Merely adopting the methods derived for forests did not produce adequate results but the modeling was significantly improved by incorporating canopy cover information and interaction terms to address the high structural heterogeneity inherent to savannas. Paper 2 explored the relationship between canopy height and aboveground biomass. To accomplish this we developed generalized models using the classical least squares regression modeling approach to relate canopy height to above ground woody biomass and then employed Hierarchical Bayesian Analysis (HBA) to explore the implications of using generalized instead of species composition-specific models. Models that incorporated canopy cover proxies performed better than those that did not. Although the model parameters indicated interspecific variability, the distribution of the posterior densities of the differences between composition level and global level parameter values showed a high support for the use of global parameters, suggesting that these canopy height-biomass models are universally (large scale) applicable. As the spatial coverage of spaceborne lidar will remain limited for the immediate future, our objective in paper 3 was to explore the best means of extrapolating

  1. Leadership in elephants: the adaptive value of age

    PubMed Central

    McComb, Karen; Shannon, Graeme; Durant, Sarah M.; Sayialel, Katito; Slotow, Rob; Poole, Joyce; Moss, Cynthia

    2011-01-01

    The value of age is well recognized in human societies, where older individuals often emerge as leaders in tasks requiring specialized knowledge, but what part do such individuals play in other social species? Despite growing interest in how effective leadership might be achieved in animal social systems, the specific role that older leaders may play in decision-making has rarely been experimentally investigated. Here, we use a novel playback paradigm to demonstrate that in African elephants (Loxodonta africana), age affects the ability of matriarchs to make ecologically relevant decisions in a domain critical to survival—the assessment of predatory threat. While groups consistently adjust their defensive behaviour to the greater threat of three roaring lions versus one, families with younger matriarchs typically under-react to roars from male lions despite the severe danger they represent. Sensitivity to this key threat increases with matriarch age and is greatest for the oldest matriarchs, who are likely to have accumulated the most experience. Our study provides the first empirical evidence that individuals within a social group may derive significant benefits from the influence of an older leader because of their enhanced ability to make crucial decisions about predatory threat, generating important insights into selection for longevity in cognitively advanced social mammals. PMID:21411454

  2. Leadership in elephants: the adaptive value of age.

    PubMed

    McComb, Karen; Shannon, Graeme; Durant, Sarah M; Sayialel, Katito; Slotow, Rob; Poole, Joyce; Moss, Cynthia

    2011-11-01

    The value of age is well recognized in human societies, where older individuals often emerge as leaders in tasks requiring specialized knowledge, but what part do such individuals play in other social species? Despite growing interest in how effective leadership might be achieved in animal social systems, the specific role that older leaders may play in decision-making has rarely been experimentally investigated. Here, we use a novel playback paradigm to demonstrate that in African elephants (Loxodonta africana), age affects the ability of matriarchs to make ecologically relevant decisions in a domain critical to survival-the assessment of predatory threat. While groups consistently adjust their defensive behaviour to the greater threat of three roaring lions versus one, families with younger matriarchs typically under-react to roars from male lions despite the severe danger they represent. Sensitivity to this key threat increases with matriarch age and is greatest for the oldest matriarchs, who are likely to have accumulated the most experience. Our study provides the first empirical evidence that individuals within a social group may derive significant benefits from the influence of an older leader because of their enhanced ability to make crucial decisions about predatory threat, generating important insights into selection for longevity in cognitively advanced social mammals. PMID:21411454

  3. Emissions from Miombo Woodland and Dambo Grassland Savanna Fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sinha, Parikhit; Hobbs, Peter V.; Yokelson, Robert J.; Blake, Donald R.; Gao, Song; Kirchstetter, Thomas W.

    2004-01-01

    Airborne measurements of trace gases and particles over and downwind of two prescribed savanna fires in Zambia are described. The measurements include profiles through the smoke plumes of condensation nucleus concentrations and normalized excess mixing ratios of particles and gases, emission factors for 42 trace gases and seven particulate species, and vertical profiles of ambient conditions. The fires were ignited in plots of miombo woodland savanna, the most prevalent savanna type in southern Africa, and dambo grassland savanna, an important enclave of miombo woodland ecosystems. Emission factors for the two fires are combined with measurements of fuel loading, combustion factors, and burned area (derived from satellite burn scar retrievals) to estimate the emissions of trace gases and particles from woodland and grassland savanna fires in Zambia and southern Africa during the dry season (May-October) of 2000. It is estimated that the emissions of CO2, CO, total hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx as NO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), formaldehyde, methyl bromide, total particulate matter, and black carbon from woodland and grassland savanna fires during the dry season of 2000 in southern Africa contributed 12.3%, 12.6%, 5.9%, 10.3%, 7.5%, 24.2%, 2.8%, 17.5%, and 11.1%, respectively, of the average annual emissions from all types of savanna fires worldwide. In 2000 the average annual emissions of methane, ethane, ethene, acetylene, propene, formaldehyde, methanol, and acetic acid from the use of biofuels in Zambia were comparable to or exceeded dry season emissions of these species from woodland and grassland savanna fires in Zambia.

  4. Vulnerability of native savanna trees and exotic Khaya senegalensis to seasonal drought.

    PubMed

    Arndt, Stefan K; Sanders, Gregor J; Bristow, Mila; Hutley, Lindsay B; Beringer, Jason; Livesley, Stephen J

    2015-07-01

    Seasonally dry ecosystems present a challenge to plants to maintain water relations. While native vegetation in seasonally dry ecosystems have evolved specific adaptations to the long dry season, there are risks to introduced exotic species. African mahogany, Khaya senegalensis Desr. (A. Juss.), is an exotic plantation species that has been introduced widely in Asia and northern Australia, but it is unknown if it has the physiological or phenotypic plasticity to cope with the strongly seasonal patterns of water availability in the tropical savanna climate of northern Australia. We investigated the gas exchange and water relations traits and adjustments to seasonal drought in K. senegalensis and native eucalypts (Eucalyptus tetrodonta F. Muell. and Corymbia latifolia F. Muell.) in a savanna ecosystem in northern Australia. The native eucalypts did not exhibit any signs of drought stress after 3 months of no rainfall and probably had access to deeper soil moisture late into the dry season. Leaf water potential, stomatal conductance, transpiration and photosynthesis all remained high in the dry season but osmotic adjustment was not observed. Overstorey leaf area index (LAI) was 0.6 in the native eucalypt savanna and did not change between wet and dry seasons. In contrast, the K. senegalensis plantation in the wet season was characterized by a high water potential, high stomatal conductance and transpiration and a high LAI of 2.4. In the dry season, K. senegalensis experienced mild drought stress with a predawn water potential -0.6 MPa. Overstorey LAI was halved, and stomatal conductance and transpiration drastically reduced, while minimum leaf water potentials did not change (-2 MPa) and no osmotic adjustment occurred. Khaya senegalensis exhibited an isohydric behaviour and also had a lower hydraulic vulnerability to cavitation in leaves, with a P50 of -2.3 MPa. The native eucalypts had twice the maximum leaf hydraulic conductance but a much higher P50 of -1.5 MPa

  5. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in sub-Saharan savannas of Benin, West Africa, as affected by agricultural land use intensity and ecological zone.

    PubMed

    Tchabi, Atti; Coyne, Danny; Hountondji, Fabien; Lawouin, Louis; Wiemken, Andres; Oehl, Fritz

    2008-04-01

    richness were generally higher in the natural savannas and under yam than at the other cultivated sites and lowest under the intensively managed cotton. In the fallows, species richness was intermediate, indicating that the high richness of the natural savannas was not restored. Surprisingly, higher species richness was observed in the SU than in the SG and NG, mainly due to a high proportion of species in the Gigasporaceae, Acaulosporaceae, and Glomeraceae. We conclude that the West African savannas contain a high natural AM fungal species richness, but that this natural richness is significantly affected by the common agricultural land use practices and appears not to be quickly restored by fallow. PMID:18386078

  6. Trace Gas Measurements in Nascent, Aged and Cloud-processed Smoke from Africa Savanna Fires by Airborne Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (AFTIR)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Yokelson, Robert J.; Bertschi, Isaac T.; Christian, Ted J.; Hobbs, Peter V.; Ward, Darold E.; Hao, Wei Min

    2003-01-01

    We measured stable and reactive trace gases with an airborne Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (AFTIR) on the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft in August/September 2000 during the SAFARI 2000 dry season campaign in Southern Africa. The measurements included vertical profiles of C02, CO, H20, and CH4 up to 5.5 km on six occasions above instrumented ground sites and below the TERRA satellite and ER-2 high-flying research aircraft. We also measured the trace gas emissions from 10 African savanna fires. Five of these fires featured extensive ground-based fuel characterization, and two were in the humid savanna ecosystem that accounts for most African biomass burning. The major constituents we detected in nascent CH3OOH, HCHO, CH30H, HCN, NH3, HCOOH, and C2H2. These are the first quantitative measurements of the initial emissions of oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOC), NH3, and HCN from African savanna fires. On average, we measured 5.3 g/kg of OVOC and 3.6 g/kg of hydrocarbons (including CH4) in the initial emissions from the fires. Thus, the OVOC will have profound, largely unexplored effects on tropical tropospheric chemistry. The HCN emission factor was only weakly dependent on fire type; the average value (0.53 g/kg) is about 20 times that of a previous recommendation. HCN may be useful as a tracer for savanna fires. Delta O3/Delta CO and Delta CH3COO/Delta CO increased to as much as 9% in <1 h of photochemical processing downwind of fires. Direct measurements showed that cloud processing of smoke greatly reduced CH30H, NH3, CH3COOH, SO2, and NO2 levels, but significantly increased HCHO and NO.

  7. Baltimore Zoo digester project. Final report. [Elephants

    SciTech Connect

    Gibson, P.W.

    1980-01-01

    The results of a project to produce methane using the manure from zoo animals as a feedstock is presented. Two digesters are in operation, the first (built in 1974) utilizing wastes from the Hippo House and a second (built in 1980) utilizing wastes from the Elephant House. Demonstrations on the utilization of the gas were performed during zoo exhibits. The Elephant House Digester has a capacity of 4200 gallons and a floating gas dome which can retain at least 150 cu ft of gas. Solar energy has been incorporated into the design to maintain digester temperature at 95/sup 0/F. The system produces 50 cu ft per day. After cleaning the gas, it is used to generate electricity to power an electric light, a roof fan, and an air conditioner. The gas is also used to operate a gas range and a gas lamp. During the opening day exhibit, 50 meals were cooked using the bio-gas from just 2 elephants. (DMC)

  8. Reconciling Agricultural Needs with Biodiversity and Carbon Conservation in a Savanna Transformation Frontier

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Spiegel, M. P.; Estes, L. D.; Caylor, K. K.; Searchinger, T.

    2015-12-01

    Zambia is a major hotspot for agricultural development in the African savannas, which will be targeted for agricultural expansion to relieve food shortages and economic insecurity in the next few decades. Recent scholarship rejects the assumption that the large reserves of arable land in the African savannas could be converted to cropland with low ecological costs. In light of these findings, the selection of land for agricultural expansion must consider not only its potential productivity, but also the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss that would result from the land conversion. To examine these tradeoffs, we have developed a multi-objective optimization technique to seek scenarios for agricultural development in Zambia that simultaneously achieve production targets and minimize carbon, biodiversity, and economic cost constraints, while factoring in the inter-annual variability in crop production in this highly uncertain climate. Potential production is determined from well-characterized yield potential estimates while robust metrics of biodiversity and high resolution mapping of carbon storage provide fine scale estimates of ecological impact. We draw production targets for individual crops from potential development pathways, primarily export, commodity-crop driven expansion and identify ecologically responsible agricultural development scenarios that are resilient to climate change and meet these demands. In order to achieve a doubling of production of nine key crops, assuming a modest 20% overall increase in yield potential, we find a range of scenarios that use less than 1600 km2 of new land without infringing on any protected areas or exceeding 6.7 million tons of carbon emissions.

  9. My College Education: Looking at the Whole Elephant

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Merrow, John

    2006-01-01

    In a well-known fable, several blind men are asked to describe an elephant. One says, ''An elephant is flat, like a pancake," another says that it's "like a big snake." Their descriptions are accurate but limited, based on whichever part of the beast each happens to be holding--the ear, the trunk, and so forth. America's "system" of higher…

  10. Resisting Elephants Lurking in the Music Education Classroom

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Regelski, Thomas A.

    2014-01-01

    Music education has many "elephants" in its classrooms: obvious major problems that go unmentioned and suffered silently. Two of the larger, more problematic "elephants" are identified, analyzed, and critiqued: (1) the hegemony of university schools of music on school music and the resulting focus in school music on…

  11. Large brains and cognition: where do elephants fit in?

    PubMed

    Hart, Benjamin L; Hart, Lynette A; Pinter-Wollman, Noa

    2008-01-01

    Among terrestrial mammals, elephants share the unique status, along with humans and great apes, of having large brains, being long-lived and having offspring that require long periods of dependency. Elephants have the largest brains of all terrestrial mammals, including the greatest volume of cerebral cortex. In contrast to what one might expect from such a large-brained species, the performance of elephants in cognitive feats, such as tool use, visual discrimination learning and tests of "insight" behavior, is unimpressive in comparison to the performance by chimpanzees and, of course, humans. Where elephants do seem to excel is in long-term, extensive spatial-temporal and social memory. In addition, elephants appear to be somewhat unique among non-human species in their reactions to disabled and deceased conspecifics, exhibiting behaviors that are mindful of "theory-of-mind" phenomena. Information gleaned from studies on the neural cytoarchitecture of large brains reveals that the neurons of the cerebral cortex of elephants are much less densely populated than in large-brained primates. The interactions between cortical neurons would appear to be more global and less compartmentalized into local areas, and cortical information processing slower, than in great apes and humans. Although focused neural cytoarchitecture studies on the elephant are needed, this comparative perspective on the cortical neural cytoarchitecture appears to relate to differences in behavior between elephants and their primate counterparts. PMID:17617460

  12. 38. ELEPHANT BOILERS 1905: Photocopy of April 1905 photograph ...

    Library of Congress Historic Buildings Survey, Historic Engineering Record, Historic Landscapes Survey

    38. ELEPHANT BOILERS - 1905: Photocopy of April 1905 photograph showing elephant boilers along the west wall of the Washington and Mason Street powerhouse and car barn. View looking west on first floor of building. - San Francisco Cable Railway, Washington & Mason Streets, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

  13. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in captive elephants (Elephaus maximus maximus) in Sri Lanka.

    PubMed

    Dangolla, A; Ekanayake, D K; Rajapakse, R P V J; Dubey, J P; Silva, I D

    2006-04-15

    Serum samples collected during August 2003-June 2004 from 45 privately owned captive and 8 elephants from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage were tested for the presence of antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii using the direct modified agglutination test (MAT). Antibodies were found in sera of 14 of 45 (32%) privately owned elephants with titers of 1:25 in three, 1:50 in three, 1:100 in three, 1:200 in three, and 1:400 in three elephants. The elephants from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage were seronegative. This is the first report of T. gondii seroprevalence in elephants in Sri Lanka. PMID:16414192

  14. Development and evaluation of an interferon-γ release assay in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Paudel, Sarad; Villanueva, Marvin A; Mikota, Susan K; Nakajima, Chie; Gairhe, Kamal P; Subedi, Suraj; Rayamajhi, Nabin; Sashika, Mariko; Shimozuru, Michito; Matsuba, Takashi; Suzuki, Yasuhiko; Tsubota, Toshio

    2016-08-01

    We developed an interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) specific for Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Whole blood collected from forty captive Asian elephants was stimulated with three different mitogens i.e., phytohemagglutinin (PHA), pokweed mitogen (PWM) and phorbol myristate aceteate/ionomycin (PMA/I). A sandwich ELISA that was able to recognize the recombinant elephant interferon-γ (rEIFN-γ) as well as native interferon-γ from the Asian elephants was performed using anti-elephant IFN-γ rabbit polyclonal antibodies as capture antibodies and biotinylated anti-elephant IFN-γ rabbit polyclonal antibodies as detection antibodies. PMA/I was the best mitogen to use as a positive control for an Asian elephant IGRA. The development of an Asian elephant-specific IGRA that detects native IFN-γ in elephant whole blood provides promising results for its application as a potential diagnostic tool for diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB) in Asian elephants. PMID:26983683

  15. Contrasting long-term records of biomass burning in wet and dry savannas of equatorial East Africa.

    PubMed

    Colombaroli, Daniele; Ssemmanda, Immaculate; Gelorini, Vanessa; Verschuren, Dirk

    2014-09-01

    Rainfall controls fire in tropical savanna ecosystems through impacting both the amount and flammability of plant biomass, and consequently, predicted changes in tropical precipitation over the next century are likely to have contrasting effects on the fire regimes of wet and dry savannas. We reconstructed the long-term dynamics of biomass burning in equatorial East Africa, using fossil charcoal particles from two well-dated lake-sediment records in western Uganda and central Kenya. We compared these high-resolution (5 years/sample) time series of biomass burning, spanning the last 3800 and 1200 years, with independent data on past hydroclimatic variability and vegetation dynamics. In western Uganda, a rapid (<100 years) and permanent increase in burning occurred around 2170 years ago, when climatic drying replaced semideciduous forest by wooded grassland. At the century time scale, biomass burning was inversely related to moisture balance for much of the next two millennia until ca. 1750 ad, when burning increased strongly despite regional climate becoming wetter. A sustained decrease in burning since the mid20th century reflects the intensified modern-day landscape conversion into cropland and plantations. In contrast, in semiarid central Kenya, biomass burning peaked at intermediate moisture-balance levels, whereas it was lower both during the wettest and driest multidecadal periods of the last 1200 years. Here, burning steadily increased since the mid20th century, presumably due to more frequent deliberate ignitions for bush clearing and cattle ranching. Both the observed historical trends and regional contrasts in biomass burning are consistent with spatial variability in fire regimes across the African savanna biome today. They demonstrate the strong dependence of East African fire regimes on both climatic moisture balance and vegetation, and the extent to which this dependence is now being overridden by anthropogenic activity. PMID:24677504

  16. Determinants of elephant distribution at Nazinga Game Ranch, Burkina Faso

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jenks, Jonathan A.; Klaver, Robert W.; Wicks, Zeno W., III

    2007-01-01

    We used seasonal ground total counts and remote sensing and GIS technology to relate elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) distribution at Nazinga Game Ranch to environmental and anthropogenic factors. Variables used in analyses were normalized difference vegetation index, elevation, stream density, density of poaching and human illegal activities, distance to dams, distance to rivers, distance to roads, and distance to poaching risk. Contrary to our expectation, road traffic did not disturb elephants. Strong negative relationships were documented between elephant abundance and stream density, distance to dams, and poaching density. Density of poaching and other human illegal activities explained 81%, vegetation greenness 6%, and stream density 3% of the variation in elephant density. Elephant distribution represented a survival strategy affected by poaching, food quality and abundance, and water availability. 

  17. Why Was the Elephant Late in Getting on the Ark? Elephant Riddles and Other Jokes in the Classroom.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kazemek, Francis E.

    1999-01-01

    Discusses why elephant riddles are viable catalysts for word play and language development in the primary grades. Explores some relationships between children's thinking and elephant riddles. Offers some suggestions for incorporating them as a regular part of the classroom flow. (SR)

  18. Assessing the role of spatial pattern in governing ecohydrological interactions and vegetation dynamics in semi-arid savannas.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shugart, H. H.; Caylor, K. K.; Scanlon, T. M.; Rodriguez-Iturbe, I.

    2003-12-01

    The spatial pattern of vegetation is both a cause and effect of variation in resource availability in semiarid ecosystems. At landscape to regional scales, climatic and geologic constraints on soil moisture and nutrient availability are primary determinants of vegetation structural pattern in semiarid ecosystems. Similarly, at local to landscape scales, the patchy vegetation structural mosaic serves to redistribute the availability of soil moisture and nutrients in ways that have important consequences for structural dynamics and community composition. A coupled energy and water balance approach was previously used to simulate the effects of large tree canopies on soil moisture and water stress across a series of sites spanning a regional moisture gradient in southern Africa. Results from the model indicate that tree canopies serve to reduce soil moisture stress of under canopy vegetation in the middle of the rainfall gradient, while at the dry end of the rainfall gradient the effect of tree canopies on soil moisture is dependent on the amount of rainfall received in a given growing season. These findings are used within a modeling framework to assess the relationship between vegetation pattern and subsequent structural dynamics of mixed tree/grass ecosystems in southern African savannas. Special attention is given to the potential for woody vegetation encroachment in southern African savannas under varying levels of climatic change and altered land tenure.

  19. Aerosol emissions by tropical forest and savanna biomass burning: Characteristic trace elements and fluxes

    SciTech Connect

    Echalar, F.; Gaudichet, A.; Cachier, H.

    1995-11-15

    This report characterizes and compares trace element emissions from fires of three different types of savannas and from the southwestern amazonian rain forest. This study tries to verify a fingerprint that may characterize savanna fires or tropical biomass burning.

  20. Distribution and load of elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses in tissues from associated fatalities of Asian elephants.

    PubMed

    Seilern-Moy, Katharina; Darpel, Karin; Steinbach, Falko; Dastjerdi, Akbar

    2016-07-15

    Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses (EEHVs) are the cause of a highly fatal haemorrhagic disease in elephants primarily affecting young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in both captivity and in the wild. The viruses have emerged as a significant threat to Asian elephant conservation, critically affecting overall sustainability of their population. So far insight into the pathogenesis of EEHV infections has been restricted to examination of EEHV-infected tissues. However, little is known about distribution and burden of the viruses within the organs of fatal cases, crucial elements in the understanding of the virus pathogenesis. This study was therefore undertaken to assess the extent of organ and cell involvement in fatal cases of EEHV-1A, 1B and 5 using a quantitative real-time PCR. EEHV-1 and 5 DNA were detectable in all the tissues examined, albeit with substantial differences in the viral DNA load. The highest EEHV-1A DNA load was observed in the liver, followed by the heart, thymus and tongue. EEHV-1B and 5 showed the highest DNA load in the heart, followed by tongue and liver. This study provides new insights into EEHV pathogenicity and has implications in choice of sample type for disease investigation and virus isolation. PMID:27102836

  1. "The Elephant in the Dark Room": Merrick and Menacing Mimicry in Bernard Pomerance's "The Elephant Man"

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Sasani, Samira

    2015-01-01

    This paper tries to look at Pomerance's "The Elephant Man," from a new perspective from which no critic has investigated the play, before. Applying postcolonial theory of Homi K. Bhabha to the play, the author scrutinizes how "mimicry strategy", employed by the colonizer and the Other, can be threatening for both and how the…

  2. Classification of savanna tree species, in the Greater Kruger National Park region, by integrating hyperspectral and LiDAR data in a Random Forest data mining environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Naidoo, L.; Cho, M. A.; Mathieu, R.; Asner, G.

    2012-04-01

    The accurate classification and mapping of individual trees at species level in the savanna ecosystem can provide numerous benefits for the managerial authorities. Such benefits include the mapping of economically useful tree species, which are a key source of food production and fuel wood for the local communities, and of problematic alien invasive and bush encroaching species, which can threaten the integrity of the environment and livelihoods of the local communities. Species level mapping is particularly challenging in African savannas which are complex, heterogeneous, and open environments with high intra-species spectral variability due to differences in geology, topography, rainfall, herbivory and human impacts within relatively short distances. Savanna vegetation are also highly irregular in canopy and crown shape, height and other structural dimensions with a combination of open grassland patches and dense woody thicket - a stark contrast to the more homogeneous forest vegetation. This study classified eight common savanna tree species in the Greater Kruger National Park region, South Africa, using a combination of hyperspectral and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-derived structural parameters, in the form of seven predictor datasets, in an automated Random Forest modelling approach. The most important predictors, which were found to play an important role in the different classification models and contributed to the success of the hybrid dataset model when combined, were species tree height; NDVI; the chlorophyll b wavelength (466 nm) and a selection of raw, continuum removed and Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) bands. It was also concluded that the hybrid predictor dataset Random Forest model yielded the highest classification accuracy and prediction success for the eight savanna tree species with an overall classification accuracy of 87.68% and KHAT value of 0.843.

  3. Tuberculosis in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Peninsular Malaysia.

    PubMed

    Ong, B L; Ngeow, Y F; Razak, M F A Abdul; Yakubu, Y; Zakaria, Z; Mutalib, A R; Hassan, L; Ng, H F; Verasahib, K

    2013-07-01

    A cross-sectional study was conducted from 10 January to 9 April 2012, to determine the seroprevalence of tuberculosis (TB) of all captive Asian elephants and their handlers in six locations in Peninsular Malaysia. In addition, trunk-wash samples were examined for tubercle bacillus by culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). For 63 elephants and 149 elephant handlers, TB seroprevalence was estimated at 20.4% and 24.8%, respectively. From 151 trunkwash samples, 24 acid-fast isolates were obtained, 23 of which were identified by hsp65-based sequencing as non-tuberculous mycobacteria. The Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific PCR was positive in the trunk-wash samples from three elephants which were also seropositive. Conversely, the trunk wash from seven seropositive elephants were PCR negative. Hence, there was evidence of active and latent TB in the elephants and the high seroprevalence in the elephants and their handlers suggests frequent, close contact, two-way transmission between animals and humans within confined workplaces. PMID:23414617

  4. Shackleton's men: life on Elephant Island.

    PubMed

    Piggott, Jan R

    2004-09-01

    The experiences of the 22 men from Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition of 1914-1916 who were marooned on Elephant Island during the Antarctic winter are not as well known as the narrative of the ship being beset and sunk, and Shackleton's open boat journey to South Georgia to rescue them. Frank Wild was left in charge of the marooned men by Shackleton and saved them from starvation and despair. The morale of the men in the face of extreme exposure to the elements, the ingenuity of their devices for survival and their diet, conversation and entertainments all reveal heroic qualities of Shackletonian endurance. PMID:15350763

  5. Stable isotope series from elephant ivory reveal lifetime histories of a true dietary generalist.

    PubMed

    Codron, Jacqueline; Codron, Daryl; Sponheimer, Matt; Kirkman, Kevin; Duffy, Kevin J; Raubenheimer, Erich J; Mélice, Jean-Luc; Grant, Rina; Clauss, Marcus; Lee-Thorp, Julia A

    2012-06-22

    Longitudinal studies have revealed how variation in resource use within consumer populations can impact their dynamics and functional significance in communities. Here, we investigate multi-decadal diet variations within individuals of a keystone megaherbivore species, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), using serial stable isotope analysis of tusks from the Kruger National Park, South Africa. These records, representing the longest continuous diet histories documented for any extant species, reveal extensive seasonal and annual variations in isotopic--and hence dietary--niches of individuals, but little variation between them. Lack of niche distinction across individuals contrasts several recent studies, which found relatively high levels of individual niche specialization in various taxa. Our result is consistent with theory that individual mammal herbivores are nutritionally constrained to maintain broad diet niches. Individual diet specialization would also be a costly strategy for large-bodied taxa foraging over wide areas in spatio-temporally heterogeneous environments. High levels of within-individual diet variability occurred within and across seasons, and persisted despite an overall increase in inferred C(4) grass consumption through the twentieth century. We suggest that switching between C(3) browsing and C(4) grazing over extended time scales facilitates elephant survival through environmental change, and could even allow recovery of overused resources. PMID:22337695

  6. Stable isotope series from elephant ivory reveal lifetime histories of a true dietary generalist

    PubMed Central

    Codron, Jacqueline; Codron, Daryl; Sponheimer, Matt; Kirkman, Kevin; Duffy, Kevin J.; Raubenheimer, Erich J.; Mélice, Jean-Luc; Grant, Rina; Clauss, Marcus; Lee-Thorp, Julia A.

    2012-01-01

    Longitudinal studies have revealed how variation in resource use within consumer populations can impact their dynamics and functional significance in communities. Here, we investigate multi-decadal diet variations within individuals of a keystone megaherbivore species, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), using serial stable isotope analysis of tusks from the Kruger National Park, South Africa. These records, representing the longest continuous diet histories documented for any extant species, reveal extensive seasonal and annual variations in isotopic—and hence dietary—niches of individuals, but little variation between them. Lack of niche distinction across individuals contrasts several recent studies, which found relatively high levels of individual niche specialization in various taxa. Our result is consistent with theory that individual mammal herbivores are nutritionally constrained to maintain broad diet niches. Individual diet specialization would also be a costly strategy for large-bodied taxa foraging over wide areas in spatio-temporally heterogeneous environments. High levels of within-individual diet variability occurred within and across seasons, and persisted despite an overall increase in inferred C4 grass consumption through the twentieth century. We suggest that switching between C3 browsing and C4 grazing over extended time scales facilitates elephant survival through environmental change, and could even allow recovery of overused resources. PMID:22337695

  7. Elephants can determine ethnicity, gender, and age from acoustic cues in human voices

    PubMed Central

    McComb, Karen; Shannon, Graeme; Sayialel, Katito N.; Moss, Cynthia

    2014-01-01

    Animals can accrue direct fitness benefits by accurately classifying predatory threat according to the species of predator and the magnitude of risk associated with an encounter. Human predators present a particularly interesting cognitive challenge, as it is typically the case that different human subgroups pose radically different levels of danger to animals living around them. Although a number of prey species have proved able to discriminate between certain human categories on the basis of visual and olfactory cues, vocalizations potentially provide a much richer source of information. We now use controlled playback experiments to investigate whether family groups of free-ranging African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Amboseli National Park, Kenya can use acoustic characteristics of speech to make functionally relevant distinctions between human subcategories differing not only in ethnicity but also in sex and age. Our results demonstrate that elephants can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent, significantly increasing their probability of defensive bunching and investigative smelling following playbacks of Maasai voices. Moreover, these responses were specific to the sex and age of Maasai presented, with the voices of Maasai women and boys, subcategories that would generally pose little threat, significantly less likely to produce these behavioral responses. Considering the long history and often pervasive predatory threat associated with humans across the globe, it is likely that abilities to precisely identify dangerous subcategories of humans on the basis of subtle voice characteristics could have been selected for in other cognitively advanced animal species. PMID:24616492

  8. Elephants can determine ethnicity, gender, and age from acoustic cues in human voices.

    PubMed

    McComb, Karen; Shannon, Graeme; Sayialel, Katito N; Moss, Cynthia

    2014-04-01

    Animals can accrue direct fitness benefits by accurately classifying predatory threat according to the species of predator and the magnitude of risk associated with an encounter. Human predators present a particularly interesting cognitive challenge, as it is typically the case that different human subgroups pose radically different levels of danger to animals living around them. Although a number of prey species have proved able to discriminate between certain human categories on the basis of visual and olfactory cues, vocalizations potentially provide a much richer source of information. We now use controlled playback experiments to investigate whether family groups of free-ranging African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Amboseli National Park, Kenya can use acoustic characteristics of speech to make functionally relevant distinctions between human subcategories differing not only in ethnicity but also in sex and age. Our results demonstrate that elephants can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent, significantly increasing their probability of defensive bunching and investigative smelling following playbacks of Maasai voices. Moreover, these responses were specific to the sex and age of Maasai presented, with the voices of Maasai women and boys, subcategories that would generally pose little threat, significantly less likely to produce these behavioral responses. Considering the long history and often pervasive predatory threat associated with humans across the globe, it is likely that abilities to precisely identify dangerous subcategories of humans on the basis of subtle voice characteristics could have been selected for in other cognitively advanced animal species. PMID:24616492

  9. Eco-hydrology driven fire regime in savanna.

    PubMed

    Ursino, Nadia

    2014-08-21

    Fire is an important evolutionary force and ecosystem consumer that shapes savanna composition. However, ecologists have not comprehensively explained the functioning and maintenance of flammable savannas. A new minimal model accounting for the interdependence between soil saturation, biomass growth, fuel availability and fire has been used to predict the increasing tree density and fire frequency along a Mean Annual Rainfall (MAR) gradient for a typical savanna. Cyclic fire recurrence is reproduced using a predator prey approach in which fire is the "predator" and vegetation is the "prey". For the first time, fire frequency is not defined a priori but rather arises from the composition of vegetation, which determines fuel availability and water limitation. Soil aridity affects fuel production and fuel composition, thus indirectly affecting the ecosystem vulnerability to fire and fire frequency. The model demonstrates that two distinct eco-hydrological states correspond to different fire frequencies: (i) at low MAR, grass is abundant and the impact of fire on the environment is enhanced by the large fuel availability, (ii) at higher MAR, tree density progressively increases and provides less fuel for fire, leading to more frequent and less destructive fires, and (iii) the threshold MAR that determines the transition between the two states and the fire frequency at high MAR are affected by the vulnerability of trees to grass fire. The eco-hydrology-driven predator-prey model originally predicts that the transition between dry and wet savanna is characterized by a shift in wildfire frequency driven by major differences in soil moisture available for plants and savanna structure. The shift and the role of fire in conserving savanna ecosystems could not have been predicted if fire was considered as an external forcing rather than an intrinsic property of the ecosystem. PMID:24727188

  10. Observations on elephant mortality and bones in water holes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Conybeare, A.; Haynes, Gary

    1984-09-01

    An unusually severe drought in 1982 led to a temporary die-off of elephants at a natural water source in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Compared to living populations, the age structure of the animals killed by drought is strongly biased toward 2-to 8-year-old animals. However, the fresh carcasses of these young elephants were commingled with weathered remains of adults that had died earlier, creating a mixed skeletal sample whose age structure was much closer to that of living populations. Observations of elephant bones that have accumulated due to natural mortality at water holes might provide analogs for paleoecological interpretations of fossil proboscidean assemblages.

  11. Random recursive trees and the elephant random walk

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kürsten, Rüdiger

    2016-03-01

    One class of random walks with infinite memory, so-called elephant random walks, are simple models describing anomalous diffusion. We present a surprising connection between these models and bond percolation on random recursive trees. We use a coupling between the two models to translate results from elephant random walks to the percolation process. We calculate, besides other quantities, exact expressions for the first and the second moment of the root cluster size and of the number of nodes in child clusters of the first generation. We further introduce another model, the skew elephant random walk, and calculate the first and second moment of this process.

  12. An Asian Elephant Imitates Human Speech

    PubMed Central

    Stoeger, Angela S.; Mietchen, Daniel; Oh, Sukhun; de Silva, Shermin; Herbst, Christian T.; Kwon, Soowhan; Fitch, W. Tecumseh

    2012-01-01

    Summary Vocal imitation has convergently evolved in many species, allowing learning and cultural transmission of complex, conspecific sounds, as in birdsong [1, 2]. Scattered instances also exist of vocal imitation across species, including mockingbirds imitating other species or parrots and mynahs producing human speech [3, 4]. Here, we document a male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) that imitates human speech, matching Korean formants and fundamental frequency in such detail that Korean native speakers can readily understand and transcribe the imitations. To create these very accurate imitations of speech formant frequencies, this elephant (named Koshik) places his trunk inside his mouth, modulating the shape of the vocal tract during controlled phonation. This represents a wholly novel method of vocal production and formant control in this or any other species. One hypothesized role for vocal imitation is to facilitate vocal recognition by heightening the similarity between related or socially affiliated individuals [1, 2]. The social circumstances under which Koshik’s speech imitations developed suggest that one function of vocal learning might be to cement social bonds and, in unusual cases, social bonds across species. PMID:23122846

  13. Fire in Australian Savannas: from leaf to landscape

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beringer, J.; Hutley, L. B.; Tapper, N. J.; Cernusak, L. A.; Lynch, A. H.; Görgen, K.; Abramson, D.; Uotila, P.

    2009-04-01

    Tropical savanna ecosystems account for 11.5% of the global landscape (Scholes and Hall 1996). Up to 75% of this landscape burns annually (Hao et al. 1990) and 50% of all biomass burning in tropical regions originates from savannas (Hao and Liu 1994). The wet-dry tropics of northern Australia feature extensive tracts of savanna vegetation which occupy approximately 2 million km2. This area is equivalent to 12% of the world's tropical savanna estate, making this savanna biome of global significance. Fire is arguably the greatest natural and anthropogenic environmental disturbance in this region. Vast tracts are burnt each year by pastoralists, aboriginal landholders and conservation managers (Russell-Smith et al. 2000; Williams et al. 2002). Fire in Australian savannas, results in a scorched canopy that dramatically reduces the green Leaf Area Index (LAI) and blackens the soil. These surface changes are likely to result in altered energy partitioning (enhanced sensible heat flux) and shifts in albedo. In addition, the aerodynamic and biological properties of the ecosystem may change, affecting surface-atmosphere coupling. For example, a loss of canopy leaf area due to fire could reduce canopy photosynthesis and evapotranspiration, greatly influencing post-fire fluxes of water and carbon. We measured radiative, energy and carbon exchanges over unburned and burned open forest savanna at Howard Springs, Darwin, Australia. Fire affected the radiative balance immediately following fire through the consumption of the grass-dominated understorey and blackening of the surface. Albedo was halved following fire (0.12 to 0.06). A moderate intensity fire resulted in a comprehensive canopy scorch and almost complete leaf drop in the weeks following fire. The shutdown of most leaves within the canopy reduced transpiration and altered energy partitioning. Leaf death and shedding also resulted in a cessation of ecosystem carbon uptake and the savanna turned from a sink to a source

  14. A grass–fire cycle eliminates an obligate-seeding tree in a tropical savanna

    PubMed Central

    Bowman, David M J S; MacDermott, Harry J; Nichols, Scott C; Murphy, Brett P

    2014-01-01

    A grass–fire cycle in Australian tropical savannas has been postulated as driving the regional decline of the obligate-seeding conifer Callitris intratropica and other fire-sensitive components of the regional flora and fauna, due to proliferation of flammable native grasses. We tested the hypothesis that a high-biomass invasive savanna grass drives a positive feedback process where intense fires destroy fire-sensitive trees, and the reduction in canopy cover facilitates further invasion by grass. We undertook an observational and experimental study using, as a model system, a plantation of C. intratropica that has been invaded by an African grass, gamba (Andropogon gayanus) in the Northern Territory, Australia. We found that high grass biomass was associated with reduced canopy cover and restriction of foliage to the upper canopy of surviving stems, and mortality of adult trees was very high (>50%) even in areas with low fuel loads (1 t·ha−1). Experimental fires, with fuel loads >10 t·ha−1, typical of the grass-invasion front, caused significant mortality due to complete crown scorch. Lower fuel loads cause reduced canopy cover through defoliation of the lower canopy. These results help explain how increases in grass biomass are coupled with the decline of C. intratropica throughout northern Australia by causing a switch from litter and sparse perennial grass fuels, and hence low-intensity surface fires, to heavy annual grass fuel loads that sustain fires that burn into the midstorey. This study demonstrates that changes in fuel type can alter fire regimes with substantial knock-on effects on the biota. PMID:25505543

  15. The Elephant Vanishes: impact of human-elephant conflict on people's wellbeing.

    PubMed

    Jadhav, Sushrut; Barua, Maan

    2012-11-01

    Human-wildlife conflicts impact upon the wellbeing of marginalised people, worldwide. Although tangible losses from such conflicts are well documented, hidden health consequences remain under-researched. Based on preliminary clinical ethnographic inquiries and sustained fieldwork in Assam, India, this paper documents mental health antecedents and consequences including severe untreated psychiatric morbidity and substance abuse. The case studies presented make visible the hidden mental health dimensions of human-elephant conflict. The paper illustrates how health impacts of conflicts penetrate far deeper than immediate physical threat from elephants, worsens pre-existing mental illness of marginalised people, and leads to newer psychiatric and social pathologies. These conflicts are enacted and perpetuated in institutional spaces of inequality. The authors argue that both wildlife conservation and community mental health disciplines would be enhanced by coordinated intervention. The paper concludes by generating questions that are fundamental for a new interdisciplinary paradigm that bridges ecology and the clinic. PMID:22819603

  16. On the Possible Detection of Lightning Storms by Elephants.

    PubMed

    Kelley, Michael C; Garstang, Michael

    2013-01-01

    Theoretical calculations suggest that sounds produced by thunderstorms and detected by a system similar to the International Monitoring System (IMS) for the detection of nuclear explosions at distances ≥100 km, are at sound pressure levels equal to or greater than 6 × 10(-3) Pa. Such sound pressure levels are well within the range of elephant hearing. Frequencies carrying these sounds might allow for interaural time delays such that adult elephants could not only hear but could also locate the source of these sounds. Determining whether it is possible for elephants to hear and locate thunderstorms contributes to the question of whether elephant movements are triggered or influenced by these abiotic sounds. PMID:26487406

  17. Affinities of `hyopsodontids' to elephant shrews and a Holarctic origin of Afrotheria

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zack, Shawn P.; Penkrot, Tonya A.; Bloch, Jonathan I.; Rose, Kenneth D.

    2005-03-01

    Macroscelideans (elephant shrews or sengis) are small-bodied (25-540g), cursorial (running) and saltatorial (jumping), insectivorous and omnivorous placental mammals represented by at least 15 extant African species classified in four genera. Macroscelidea is one of several morphologically diverse but predominantly African placental orders classified in the superorder Afrotheria by molecular phylogeneticists. The distribution of modern afrotheres, in combination with a basal position for Afrotheria within Placentalia and molecular divergence-time estimates, has been used to link placental diversification with the mid-Cretaceous separation of South America and Africa. Morphological phylogenetic analyses do not support Afrotheria and the fossil record favours a northern origin of Placentalia. Here we describe fossil postcrania that provide evidence for a close relationship between North American Palaeocene-Eocene apheliscine `hyopsodontid' `condylarths' (early ungulates or hoofed mammals) and extant Macroscelidea. Apheliscine postcranial morphology is consistent with a relationship to other ungulate-like afrotheres (Hyracoidea, Proboscidea) but does not provide support for a monophyletic Afrotheria. As the oldest record of an afrothere clade, identification of macroscelidean relatives in the North American Palaeocene argues against an African origin for Afrotheria, weakening support for linking placental diversification to the break-up of Gondwana.

  18. Affinities of 'hyopsodontids' to elephant shrews and a Holarctic origin of Afrotheria.

    PubMed

    Zack, Shawn P; Penkrot, Tonya A; Bloch, Jonathan I; Rose, Kenneth D

    2005-03-24

    Macroscelideans (elephant shrews or sengis) are small-bodied (25-540 g), cursorial (running) and saltatorial (jumping), insectivorous and omnivorous placental mammals represented by at least 15 extant African species classified in four genera. Macroscelidea is one of several morphologically diverse but predominantly African placental orders classified in the superorder Afrotheria by molecular phylogeneticists. The distribution of modern afrotheres, in combination with a basal position for Afrotheria within Placentalia and molecular divergence-time estimates, has been used to link placental diversification with the mid-Cretaceous separation of South America and Africa. Morphological phylogenetic analyses do not support Afrotheria and the fossil record favours a northern origin of Placentalia. Here we describe fossil postcrania that provide evidence for a close relationship between North American Palaeocene-Eocene apheliscine 'hyopsodontid' 'condylarths' (early ungulates or hoofed mammals) and extant Macroscelidea. Apheliscine postcranial morphology is consistent with a relationship to other ungulate-like afrotheres (Hyracoidea, Proboscidea) but does not provide support for a monophyletic Afrotheria. As the oldest record of an afrothere clade, identification of macroscelidean relatives in the North American Palaeocene argues against an African origin for Afrotheria, weakening support for linking placental diversification to the break-up of Gondwana. PMID:15791254

  19. Subclinical hypocalcaemia in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    van der Kolk, J H; van Leeuwen, J P T M; van den Belt, A J M; van Schaik, R H N; Schaftenaar, W

    2008-04-12

    The hypothesis that hypocalcaemia may play a role in dystocia in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) was investigated. The objectives of the study were to measure the total calcium concentration in elephant plasma; assess the changes in parameters of calcium metabolism during a feeding trial; investigate a possible relationship between calcium metabolism and dystocia; and assess bone mineralisation in captive Asian elephants in vivo. The following parameters were measured: total and ionised calcium, inorganic phosphorous and magnesium, the fractional excretions of these minerals, intact parathyroid hormone, 25-OH-D(3) and 1,25-OH-D(3). Radiographs were taken from tail vertebrae for assessment of bone mineralisation. The mean (sd) heparinised plasma total calcium concentration was 2.7 (0.33) mmol/l (n=43) ranging from 0.84 to 3.08 mmol/l in 11 Asian elephants. There was no significant correlation between plasma total calcium concentration and age. Following feeding of a calcium rich ration to four captive Asian elephant cows, plasma total and ionised calcium peaked at 3.6 (0.24) mmol/l (range 3.4 to 3.9 mmol/l) and 1.25 (0.07) mmol/l (range 1.17 to 1.32 mmol/l), respectively. Plasma ionised calcium concentrations around parturition in four Asian elephant cows ranged from 0.37 to 1.1 mmol/l only. The present study indicates that captive Asian elephants might be hypocalcaemic, and that, in captive Asian elephants, the normal plasma concentration of total calcium should actually be around 3.6 mmol/l and normal plasma concentration of ionised calcium around 1.25 mmol/l. Given the fact that elephants absorb dietary calcium mainly from the intestine, it could be concluded that elephants should be fed calcium-rich diets at all times, and particularly around parturition. In addition, normal values for ionised calcium in captive Asian elephants should be reassessed. PMID:18408195

  20. Community-Based Ecological Restoration: The Wingra Oak Savanna Project.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bader, Brian J.; Egan, Dave

    1999-01-01

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, a pioneer in ecological restoration, is involving the local community in restoring a site to its presettlement condition as an oak savanna. Besides providing the manual labor of restoration, volunteers learn about the land and the ecological processes that tie nature and culture together. A 60-hour…

  1. Restoring a disappearing ecosystem: the Longleaf Pine Savanna.

    SciTech Connect

    Harrington, Timothy B.; Miller, Karl V.; Park, Noreen

    2013-05-01

    Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas of the southeastern United States contain some of the worlds most diverse plant communities, along with a unique complement of wildlife. Their traditionally open canopy structure and rich understory of grasses and herbs were critical to their vigor. However, a long history of land-use practices such as logging, farming, and fire exclusion have reduced this once-widespread ecosystem to only 3 percent of its original range. At six longleaf pine plantations in South Carolina, Tim Harrington with the Pacific Northwest Research Station and collaborators with the Southern Research Station used various treatments (including prescribed burns, tree thinning, and herbicide applications) to alter the forest structure and tracked how successful each one was in advancing savanna restoration over a 14-year period. They found that typical planting densities for wood production in plantations create dense understory shade that excludes many native herbaceous species important to savannas and associated wildlife. The scientists found that although tree thinning alone did not result in sustained gains, a combination of controlled burning, thinning, and herbicide treatments to reduce woody plants was an effective strategy for recovering the savanna ecosystem. The scientists also found that these efforts must be repeated periodically for enduring benefits.

  2. Soil microbial communities following bush removal in a Namibian savanna

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Savanna ecosystems are subject to desertification and bush encroachment, which reduce the grazing value of the land and hence the carrying capacity for wildlife and livestock. In this study we examined the soil microbial communities under bush and grass in Namibia. We analyzed the soil at a chronose...

  3. Towards an Automated Acoustic Detection System for Free Ranging Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Zeppelzauer, Matthias; Hensman, Sean; Stoeger, Angela S.

    2015-01-01

    The human-elephant conflict is one of the most serious conservation problems in Asia and Africa today. The involuntary confrontation of humans and elephants claims the lives of many animals and humans every year. A promising approach to alleviate this conflict is the development of an acoustic early warning system. Such a system requires the robust automated detection of elephant vocalizations under unconstrained field conditions. Today, no system exists that fulfills these requirements. In this paper, we present a method for the automated detection of elephant vocalizations that is robust to the diverse noise sources present in the field. We evaluate the method on a dataset recorded under natural field conditions to simulate a real-world scenario. The proposed method outperformed existing approaches and robustly and accurately detected elephants. It thus can form the basis for a future automated early warning system for elephants. Furthermore, the method may be a useful tool for scientists in bioacoustics for the study of wildlife recordings. PMID:25983398

  4. On the Possible Detection of Lightning Storms by Elephants

    PubMed Central

    Kelley, Michael C.; Garstang, Michael

    2013-01-01

    Simple Summary We use data similar to that taken by the International Monitoring System for the detection of nuclear explosions, to determine whether elephants might be capable of detecting and locating the source of sounds generated by thunderstorms. Knowledge that elephants might be capable of responding to such storms, particularly at the end of the dry season when migrations are initiated, is of considerable interest to management and conservation. Abstract Theoretical calculations suggest that sounds produced by thunderstorms and detected by a system similar to the International Monitoring System (IMS) for the detection of nuclear explosions at distances ≥100 km, are at sound pressure levels equal to or greater than 6 × 10−3 Pa. Such sound pressure levels are well within the range of elephant hearing. Frequencies carrying these sounds might allow for interaural time delays such that adult elephants could not only hear but could also locate the source of these sounds. Determining whether it is possible for elephants to hear and locate thunderstorms contributes to the question of whether elephant movements are triggered or influenced by these abiotic sounds. PMID:26487406

  5. Disentangling How Landscape Spatial and Temporal Heterogeneity Affects Savanna Birds

    PubMed Central

    Price, Bronwyn; McAlpine, Clive A.; Kutt, Alex S.; Ward, Doug; Phinn, Stuart R.; Ludwig, John A.

    2013-01-01

    In highly seasonal tropical environments, temporal changes in habitat and resources are a significant determinant of the spatial distribution of species. This study disentangles the effects of spatial and mid to long-term temporal heterogeneity in habitat on the diversity and abundance of savanna birds by testing four competing conceptual models of varying complexity. Focussing on sites in northeast Australia over a 20 year time period, we used ground cover and foliage projected cover surfaces derived from a time series of Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, rainfall data and site-level vegetation surveys to derive measures of habitat structure at local (1–100 ha) and landscape (100–1000s ha) scales. We used generalised linear models and an information theoretic approach to test the independent effects of spatial and temporal influences on savanna bird diversity and the abundance of eight species with different life-history behaviours. Of four competing models defining influences on assemblages of savanna birds, the most parsimonious included temporal and spatial variability in vegetation cover and site-scale vegetation structure, suggesting savanna bird species respond to spatial and temporal habitat heterogeneity at both the broader landscape scale and at the fine-scale. The relative weight, strength and direction of the explanatory variables changed with each of the eight species, reflecting their different ecology and behavioural traits. This study demonstrates that variations in the spatial pattern of savanna vegetation over periods of 10 to 20 years at the local and landscape scale strongly affect bird diversity and abundance. Thus, it is essential to monitor and manage both spatial and temporal variability in avian habitat to achieve long-term biodiversity outcomes. PMID:24066138

  6. The Proteus syndrome: the Elephant Man diagnosed.

    PubMed Central

    Tibbles, J A; Cohen, M M

    1986-01-01

    Sir Frederick Treves first showed Joseph Merrick, the famous Elephant Man, to the Pathological Society of London in 1884. A diagnosis of neurofibromatosis was suggested in 1909 and was widely accepted. There is no evidence, however, of café au lait spots or histological proof of neurofibromas. It is also clear that Joseph Merrick's manifestations were much more bizarre than those commonly seen in neurofibromatosis. Evidence indicates that Merrick suffered from the Proteus syndrome and had the following features compatible with this diagnosis: macrocephaly; hyperostosis of the skull; hypertrophy of long bones; and thickened skin and subcutaneous tissues, particularly of the hands and feet, including plantar hyperplasia, lipomas, and other unspecified subcutaneous masses. Images FIG 1 FIG 2 FIG 3 FIG 4 PMID:3092979

  7. Hydrothermal calcite in the Elephant Moraine

    SciTech Connect

    Faure, G.; Taylor, K.S.; Jones, L.M.

    1986-01-01

    In the course of geologic mapping of the Elephant Moraine on the east antarctic ice sheet, Faure and Taylor (1985) collected several specimens of black botryoidal calcite, composed of radiating acicular crystals that resemble stromatolites. Calcite from this and other specimens is significantly enriched in strontium-87 (the strontium-87/strontium-86 ratio equals 0.71417 +/- 0.00002), carbon-12 (delta carbon-13 equals -22.9 parts per thousand, PDB standard) and oxygen-16 (delta oxygen-18 equals -21.1 parts per thousand, standard mean ocean water) compared with calcite of marine origin. The enrichment in carbon-12 is similar to that of calcite associated with coal in the Allan Hills. The enrichment in oxygen-16 indicates that the calcite from the Elephant Moraine could only have precipitated in isotopic equilibrium with glacial melt water. Therefore, the temperature at which the black calcite precipitated from water of that isotope composition was about 85/sup 0/C. A temperature of this magnitude implies that the black calcite formed as a result of volcanic activity under the east antarctic ice sheet. The enrichment of the black calcite in carbon-12 suggests that it formed in part from carbon dioxide derived from the coal seams of the Weller Formation in the Beacon Supergroup. The isotopic composition of strontium in the black calcite is similar to that of carbonate beds and concretions in the Beacon rocks of southern Victoria Land. A volcanic-hydrothermal origin is also consistent with the very low total organic carbon content of 0.15% in the calcite.

  8. Loss of a large grazer impacts savanna grassland plant communities similarly in North America and South Africa.

    PubMed

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

    2014-05-01

    Large herbivore grazing is a widespread disturbance in mesic savanna grasslands which increases herbaceous plant community richness and diversity. However, humans are modifying the impacts of grazing on these ecosystems by removing grazers. A more general understanding of how grazer loss will impact these ecosystems is hampered by differences in the diversity of large herbivore assemblages among savanna grasslands, which can affect the way that grazing influences plant communities. To avoid this we used two unique enclosures each containing a single, functionally similar large herbivore species. Specifically, we studied a bison (Bos bison) enclosure at Konza Prairie Biological Station, USA and an African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) enclosure in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Within these enclosures we erected exclosures in annually burned and unburned sites to determine how grazer loss would impact herbaceous plant communities, while controlling for potential fire-grazing interactions. At both sites, removal of the only grazer decreased grass and forb richness, evenness and diversity, over time. However, in Kruger these changes only occurred with burning. At both sites, changes in plant communities were driven by increased dominance with herbivore exclusion. At Konza, this was caused by increased abundance of one grass species, Andropogon gerardii, while at Kruger, three grasses, Themeda triandra, Panicum coloratum, and Digitaria eriantha increased in abundance. PMID:24554031

  9. Evaporation over a Heterogeneous Mixed Savanna-Agricultural Catchment using a Distributed Wireless Sensor Network

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ceperley, N. C.; Mande, T.; Barrenetxea, G.; Vetterli, M.; Yacouba, H.; Repetti, A.; Parlange, M. B.

    2010-12-01

    Small scale rain fed agriculture is the primary livelihood for a large part of the population of Burkina Faso. Regional climate change means that this population is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Additionally, as natural savanna is converted for agriculture, hydrological systems are observed to become less stable as infiltration is decreased and rapid runoff is increased to the detriment of crop productivity, downstream populations and local water sources. The majority of the Singou River Basin, located in South East Burkina Faso is managed by hunting reserves, geared to maintaining high populations of wild game; however, residents surrounding the protected areas have been forced to intensify agriculture that has resulted in soil degradation as well as increases in the frequency and severity of flooding and droughts. Agroforestry, or planting trees in cultivated fields, has been proposed as a solution to help buffer these negative consequences, however the specific hydrologic behavior of the watershed land cover is unknown. We have installed a distributed sensor network of 17 Sensorscope wireless meteorological stations. These stations are dispersed across cultivated rice and millet fields, natural savanna, fallow fields, and around agroforestry fields. Sensorscope routes data through the network of stations to be delivered by a GPRS connection to a main server. This multi hop network allows data to be gathered over a large area and quickly adapts to changes in station performance. Data are available in real time via a website that can be accessed by a mobile phone. The stations are powered autonomously by small photovoltaic panels. This deployment is the first time that these meteorological stations have been used on the African continent. Initial calibration with measures from 2 eddy covariance stations allows us to calculate the energy balance at each of the Sensorscope stations. Thus, we can observe variation in evaporation over the various land cover in the

  10. Pyromineralization of soil phosphorus in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hartshorn, A.; Coetsee, C.; Chadwick, O.

    2007-12-01

    The weathering of rock supplies phosphorus (P) to ecosystems. Phosphorus limitation of ecosystems can be severe in thicker or older soils, where soil production rates from rock and therefore release of P is slower than in thinner or younger soils. Limitation may be especially pronounced in drier ecosystems that are experiencing increasing N deposition. Our savanna field sites in Kruger National Park, South Africa meet all three of these criteria: soil residence times average 250 ky, the climate is semiarid, and N inputs average 20 kg ha-1 y-1. Not all soil P is plant-available, and because our field sites experience occasional fires, our objectives were to quantify the importance of pyromineralization of soil P, the transfer by fire of soil P from recalcitrant to labile (HCO3- extractable) pools. We quantified these soil P pools using a modified Hedley scheme (an array of chemical extractants). Three sets of soils were fractionated: 1. soils from 10 profiles along an intensively studied hillslope, bracketing a pronounced structural and functional ecotone; 2. surface soils from these 10 profiles after a simulated burn; and 3. surface soils from the Shabeni Experimental Plots, where 4 fire treatments have been maintained for decades: no fire, annual fire in the dry season, triennial fire in the dry season, and triennial fire in the wet season. Total P for hillslope soils ranged from 45 to 135 g m-2 (to 50 cm depth) and from 8 to 15 g m-2 (to 5 cm depth). Total soil P was lowest in midslope soils, where upslope sandy soils dominated by broad-leafed vegetation shift abruptly to downslope clayey soils with fine-leafed vegetation. Simulated fire for the hillslope soils reduced total P slightly, but boosted labile P by 1.7 g m-2 (to 5 cm), representing 17% of total P in the surface 5 cm. This pyromineralization effect was not uniform across the hillslope: downslope soils gained about 50% more labile P than midslope soils with simulated burning. With a fire return interval

  11. Field application of serodiagnostics to identify elephants with Tuberculosis prior to case confirmation by culture

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Three serologic methods for antibody detection in elephant tuberculosis (TB), multiantigen print immunoassay (MAPIA), ElephantTB STAT-PAK kit, and DPP VetTB test, were validated prospectively using serial serum samples from 14 captive elephants in 5 countries which were diagnosed with TB by positive...

  12. Elephant trunk technique for hybrid aortic arch repair.

    PubMed

    Miyamoto, Yuji

    2014-03-01

    The original elephant trunk technique was developed by Borst in 1983 for the treatment of aortic arch aneurysms. This technique reduced operative risks, but was associated with cumulative mortality rates of 6.9 % for the first stage and 7.5 % for the second stage. Patients also waited a long time between two major surgical procedures. Only 50.4 % of patients underwent the second-stage surgery, and there was a significant interval mortality rate of 10.7 %. With the advent of stent-graft techniques, two different hybrid elephant trunk techniques were developed. One technique is first-stage elephant trunk graft placement followed by second-stage endovascular completion. The conventional elephant trunk graft provides a good landing zone for the stent-graft, and endovascular completion is a useful alternative to conventional second-stage surgery. This method has few major complications, and a postoperative paraplegia rate of 1.1 %. The other technique is the frozen elephant trunk technique. This technique eliminates the need for subsequent endovascular completion, and is particularly useful for the treatment of acute type A dissection because it can achieve a secure seal. However, it is associated with a higher rate of spinal cord ischemia than other methods such as the original elephant trunk technique. The left subclavian artery (LSA) is often lost when performing a hybrid elephant trunk procedure. Revascularization of the LSA should be performed to prevent arm ischemia and neurological complications such as paraplegia or stroke, although the level of evidence for this recommendation is low. PMID:23943042

  13. Multilocus phylogeography of a widespread savanna-woodland-adapted rodent reveals the influence of Pleistocene geomorphology and climate change in Africa's Zambezi region.

    PubMed

    McDonough, Molly M; Šumbera, Radim; Mazoch, Vladimír; Ferguson, Adam W; Phillips, Caleb D; Bryja, Josef

    2015-10-01

    Understanding historical influences of climate and physiographic barriers in shaping patterns of biodiversity remains limited for many regions of the world. For mammals of continental Africa, phylogeographic studies, particularly for West African lineages, implicate both geographic barriers and climate oscillations in shaping small mammal diversity. In contrast, studies for southern African species have revealed conflicting phylogenetic patterns for how mammalian lineages respond to both climate change and geologic events such as river formation, especially during the Pleistocene. However, these studies were often biased by limited geographic sampling or exclusively focused on large-bodied taxa. We exploited the broad southern African distribution of a savanna-woodland-adapted African rodent, Gerbilliscus leucogaster (bushveld gerbil) and generated mitochondrial, autosomal and sex chromosome data to quantify regional signatures of climatic and vicariant biogeographic phenomena. Results indicate the most recent common ancestor for all G. leucogaster lineages occurred during the early Pleistocene. We documented six divergent mitochondrial lineages that diverged ~0.270-0.100 mya, each of which was geographically isolated during periods characterized by alterations to the course of the Zambezi River and its tributaries as well as regional 'megadroughts'. Results demonstrate the presence of a widespread lineage exhibiting demographic expansion ~0.065-0.035 mya, a time that coincides with savanna-woodland expansion across southern Africa. A multilocus autosomal perspective revealed the influence of the Kafue River as a current barrier to gene flow and regions of secondary contact among divergent mitochondrial lineages. Our results demonstrate the importance of both climatic fluctuations and physiographic vicariance in shaping the distribution of southern African biodiversity. PMID:26340076

  14. Comment on "Global resilience of tropical forest and savanna to critical transitions".

    PubMed

    Ratajczak, Zak; Nippert, Jesse B

    2012-05-01

    Hirota et al. (Reports, 14 October 2011, p. 232) used spatial data to show that grasslands, savannas, and forests represent opposing stable states. Reanalyzing their data and drawing from temporal studies, we argue that spatial analyses underestimate the bistability of grasslands and savannas due to limitations of substituting space for time. We propose that temporal and spatial data are needed to predict critical transitions between grasslands and savannas. PMID:22556235

  15. Demographic Variables for Wild Asian Elephants Using Longitudinal Observations

    PubMed Central

    de Silva, Shermin; Webber, C. Elizabeth; Weerathunga, U. S.; Pushpakumara, T. V.; Weerakoon, Devaka K.; Wittemyer, George

    2013-01-01

    Detailed demographic data on wild Asian elephants have been difficult to collect due to habitat characteristics of much of the species’ remaining range. Such data, however, are critical for understanding and modeling population processes in this endangered species. We present data from six years of an ongoing study of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka. This relatively undisturbed population numbering over one thousand elephants is individually monitored, providing cohort-based information on mortality and reproduction. Reproduction was seasonal, such that most births occurred during the long inter-monsoon dry season and peaked in May. During the study, the average age at first reproduction was 13.4 years and the 50th percentile inter-birth interval was approximately 6 years. Birth sex ratios did not deviate significantly from parity. Fecundity was relatively stable throughout the observed reproductive life of an individual (ages 11–60), averaging between 0.13–0.17 female offspring per individual per year. Mortalities and injuries based on carcasses and disappearances showed that males were significantly more likely than females to be killed or injured through anthropogenic activity. Overall, however, most observed injuries did not appear to be fatal. This population exhibits higher fecundity and density relative to published estimates on other Asian elephant populations, possibly enhanced by present range constriction. Understanding the factors responsible for these demographic dynamics can shed insight on the future needs of this elephant population, with probable parallels to other populations in similar settings. PMID:24376581

  16. Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Three Zoo Elephants and a Human Contact - Oregon, 2013.

    PubMed

    Zlot, Amy; Vines, Jennifer; Nystrom, Laura; Lane, Lindsey; Behm, Heidi; Denny, Justin; Finnegan, Mitch; Hostetler, Trevor; Matthews, Gloria; Storms, Tim; DeBess, Emilio

    2016-01-01

    In 2013, public health officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, started an investigation of a tuberculosis (TB) outbreak among elephants and humans at a local zoo. The investigation ultimately identified three bull elephants with active TB and 118 human contacts of the elephants. Ninety-six (81%) contacts were evaluated, and seven close contacts were found to have latent TB infection. The three bulls were isolated and treated (elephants with TB typically are not euthanized) to prevent infection of other animals and humans, and persons with latent infection were offered treatment. Improved TB screening methods for elephants are needed to prevent exposure of human contacts. PMID:26741355

  17. Microbial Diversity in Cerrado Biome (Neotropical Savanna) Soils

    PubMed Central

    Pereira de Castro, Alinne; Sartori da Silva, Maria Regina Silveira; Quirino, Betania Ferraz; da Cunha Bustamante, Mercedes Maria; Krüger, Ricardo Henrique

    2016-01-01

    The Cerrado, the largest savanna region in South America, is located in central Brazil. Cerrado physiognomies, which range from savanna grasslands to forest formations, combined with the highly weathered, acidic clay Cerrado soils form a unique ecoregion. In this study, high-throughput sequencing of ribosomal RNA genes was combined with shotgun metagenomic analysis to explore the taxonomic composition and potential functions of soil microbial communities in four different vegetation physiognomies during both dry and rainy seasons. Our results showed that changes in bacterial, archaeal, and fungal community structures in cerrado denso, cerrado sensu stricto, campo sujo, and gallery forest soils strongly correlated with seasonal patterns of soil water uptake. The relative abundance of AD3, WPS-2, Planctomycetes, Thermoprotei, and Glomeromycota typically decreased in the rainy season, whereas the relative abundance of Proteobacteria and Ascomycota increased. In addition, analysis of shotgun metagenomic data revealed a significant increase in the relative abundance of genes associated with iron acquisition and metabolism, dormancy, and sporulation during the dry season, and an increase in the relative abundance of genes related to respiration and DNA and protein metabolism during the rainy season. These gene functional categories are associated with adaptation to water stress. Our results further the understanding of how tropical savanna soil microbial communities may be influenced by vegetation covering and temporal variations in soil moisture. PMID:26849674

  18. Microbial Diversity in Cerrado Biome (Neotropical Savanna) Soils.

    PubMed

    de Castro, Alinne Pereira; Sartori da Silva, Maria Regina Silveira; Quirino, Betania Ferraz; da Cunha Bustamante, Mercedes Maria; Krüger, Ricardo Henrique

    2016-01-01

    The Cerrado, the largest savanna region in South America, is located in central Brazil. Cerrado physiognomies, which range from savanna grasslands to forest formations, combined with the highly weathered, acidic clay Cerrado soils form a unique ecoregion. In this study, high-throughput sequencing of ribosomal RNA genes was combined with shotgun metagenomic analysis to explore the taxonomic composition and potential functions of soil microbial communities in four different vegetation physiognomies during both dry and rainy seasons. Our results showed that changes in bacterial, archaeal, and fungal community structures in cerrado denso, cerrado sensu stricto, campo sujo, and gallery forest soils strongly correlated with seasonal patterns of soil water uptake. The relative abundance of AD3, WPS-2, Planctomycetes, Thermoprotei, and Glomeromycota typically decreased in the rainy season, whereas the relative abundance of Proteobacteria and Ascomycota increased. In addition, analysis of shotgun metagenomic data revealed a significant increase in the relative abundance of genes associated with iron acquisition and metabolism, dormancy, and sporulation during the dry season, and an increase in the relative abundance of genes related to respiration and DNA and protein metabolism during the rainy season. These gene functional categories are associated with adaptation to water stress. Our results further the understanding of how tropical savanna soil microbial communities may be influenced by vegetation covering and temporal variations in soil moisture. PMID:26849674

  19. Insectivory of savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal.

    PubMed

    Bogart, Stephanie L; Pruetz, Jill D

    2011-05-01

    Little is known about the behavior of chimpanzees living in savanna-woodlands, although they are of particular interest to anthropologists for the insight they can provide regarding the ecological pressures affecting early hominins living in similar habitats. Fongoli, Senegal, is the first site where savanna chimpanzees have been habituated for observational data collection and is the hottest and driest site where such observation of chimpanzees occurs today. Previously, indirect evidence suggested these chimpanzees consumed termites throughout the year, an unusual occurrence for western and eastern chimpanzees. Although meat eating by chimpanzees continues to receive much attention, their use of invertebrate prey has received less emphasis in scenarios of hominin evolution. Here, we further examine the invertebrate diet of Fongoli chimpanzees using direct observational methods and accounting for potential environmental influences. Termite feeding positively correlated with high temperatures. Fongoli chimpanzees spend more time obtaining termites than any other chimpanzee population studied, and this extensive insectivory contributes to the list of distinctive behaviors they display relative to chimpanzees living in more forested habitats. We suggest that savanna chimpanzees at Fongoli differ significantly from chimpanzees elsewhere as a result of the selective pressures characterizing their harsh environment, and this contrast provides an example of a viable referential model for better understanding human evolution. Specifically, our results support the hypotheses that invertebrate prey may have figured more prominently into the diet of early hominins in similar habitats, especially given that invertebrates are an important source of protein and other essential nutrients in a highly seasonal environment. PMID:21484757

  20. Scale-dependent bi-trophic interactions in a semi-arid savanna: how herbivores eliminate benefits of nutrient patchiness to plants.

    PubMed

    van der Waal, Cornelis; de Kroon, Hans; van Langevelde, Frank; de Boer, Willem F; Heitkönig, Ignas M A; Slotow, Rob; Pretorius, Yolanda; Prins, Herbert H T

    2016-08-01

    The scale of resource heterogeneity may influence how resources are locally partitioned between co-existing large and small organisms such as trees and grasses in savannas. Scale-related plant responses may, in turn, influence herbivore use of the vegetation. To examine these scale-dependent bi-trophic interactions, we varied fertilizer [(nitrogen (N)/phosphorus (P)/potassium (K)] applications to patches to create different scales of nutrient patchiness (patch size 2 × 2 m, 10 × 10 m, or whole-plot 50 × 50 m) in a large field experiment in intact African savanna. Within-patch fertilizer concentration and the total fertilizer load per plot were independently varied. We found that fertilization increased the leaf N and P concentrations of trees and grasses, resulting in elevated utilization by browsers and grazers. Herbivory off-take was particularly considerable at higher nutrient concentrations. Scale-dependent effects were weak. The net effect of fertilization and herbivory was that plants in fertilized areas tended to grow less and develop smaller rather than larger standing biomass compared to plants growing in areas that remained unfertilized. When all of these effects were considered together at the community (plot) level, herbivory completely eliminated the positive effects of fertilization on the plant community. While this was true for all scales of fertilization, grasses tended to profit more from coarse-grained fertilization and trees from fine-grained fertilization. We conclude that in herbivore-dominated communities, such as the African savanna, nutrient patchiness results in the herbivore community profiting rather more than the plant community, irrespective of the scale of patchiness. At the community level, the allometric scaling theory's prediction of plant-and probably also animal-production does not hold or may even be reversed as a result of complex bi-trophic interactions. PMID:27094543

  1. The occurrence of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus): first case of EEHV4 in Asia.

    PubMed

    Sripiboon, Supaphen; Tankaew, Pallop; Lungka, Grishda; Thitaram, Chatchote

    2013-03-01

    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is a type of herpesvirus that causes acute hemorrhagic disease in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and is often fatal, especially in calves. This study describes the postmortem evaluation of two captive-born Asian elephants (2 and 3 yr of age, respectively) diagnosed with EEHV in Thailand. Both elephants presented only mild depression, lethargy, and anorexia before death within 24 hr of symptom onset. Necropsies were performed, and tissue samples were tested for EEHV viral presence using polymerase chain reaction. Molecular and phylogenetic evidence illustrated two types of EEHV, which were closely related to EEHV1A in Case 1 and EEHV4 in Case 2. Pathologic findings differed between the cases. More specific organ tropism was found in Case 1, where mainly the cardiovascular system was affected. In contrast, in Case 2, hemorrhages were noted in most organs, including in the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems. This report is the first to document EEHV4 in Asia and the second case of this strain to be identified in an elephant worldwide. PMID:23505709

  2. Positive Reinforcement Training for a Trunk Wash in Nepal's Working Elephants: Demonstrating Alternatives to Traditional Elephant Training Techniques

    PubMed Central

    Fagen, Ariel; Acharya, Narayan; Kaufman, Gretchen E.

    2016-01-01

    Many trainers of animals in the zoo now rely on positive reinforcement training to teach animals to voluntarily participate in husbandry and veterinary procedures in an effort to improve behavioral reliability, captive management, and welfare. However, captive elephant handlers in Nepal still rely heavily on punishment- and aversion-based methods. The aim of this project was to determine the effectiveness of secondary positive reinforcement (SPR) in training free-contact elephants in Nepal to voluntarily participate in a trunk wash for the purpose of tuberculosis testing. Five female elephants, 4 juveniles and 1 adult, were enrolled in the project. Data were collected in the form of minutes of training, number of offers made for each training task, and success rate for each task in performance tests. Four out of 5 elephants, all juveniles, successfully learned the trunk wash in 35 sessions or fewer, with each session lasting a mean duration of 12 min. The elephants’ performance improved from a mean success rate of 39.0% to 89.3% during the course of the training. This study proves that it is feasible to efficiently train juvenile, free-contact, traditionally trained elephants in Nepal to voluntarily and reliably participate in a trunk wash using only SPR techniques. PMID:24410366

  3. Comparison of glycoprotein B (gB) variants of the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) isolated from Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).

    PubMed

    Fickel, J; Lieckfeldt, D; Richman, L K; Streich, W J; Hildebrandt, T B; Pitra, C

    2003-01-01

    The recently described elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHV) have been associated with the deaths of numerous captive elephants. A proposed tool for the detection of EEHV infection in elephants is the PCR-based screening for EEHV-DNA in whole blood samples. Unfortunately, this detection method has only been successful in post-mortem analyses or in animals already displaying clinical signs of EEHV disease, thus rendering this method unsuitable for identification of carrier elephants. Here, we focus on glycoprotein B (gB) for serologic assay development, since gB is an envelope protein known to induce a neutralising antibody response in other herpesvirus infections. We sequenced the entire gB gene from five Asian elephants with EEHV, representing four different gB variants. Computer-aided methods were used to predict functionally important regions within EEHVgB. An extra-cytoplasmic region of 153 amino acids was predicted to be under positive selection and may potentially contain antigenic determinants that will be useful for future serologic assay development. PMID:12441228

  4. Elephant trunks in aortic surgery: fresh and frozen.

    PubMed

    Hagl, Christian; Pichlmaier, Maximilian; Khaladj, Nawid

    2013-03-01

    Aneurysmal diseases are often silent but can cause potentially life-threatening complications in cases of dissection or rupture. Surgical strategies depend on the involved part of the aorta and frequently require extracorporeal circulation and circulatory arrest. From data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aneurysm disease is the 18th most common cause of death in all individuals, and the incidence is certain to increase as our population ages. This article discusses different treatment options introduced in the past few decades to address multifocal pathologic conditions of the thoracic aorta. These include the conventional elephant trunk procedure introduced by Hans Borst in 1983, with several modifications, and also hybrid procedures combining open surgical and endovascular techniques: the so-called frozen elephant trunk. Advantages and drawbacks of both techniques will be discussed based on personal and practical perspectives, with specific mention of the elephant trunk procedure in acute aortic dissections. PMID:23410783

  5. Woody encroachment over 70 years in South African savannahs: overgrazing, global change or extinction aftershock?

    PubMed

    Stevens, Nicola; Erasmus, B F N; Archibald, S; Bond, W J

    2016-09-19

    Woody encroachment in 'open' biomes like grasslands and savannahs is occurring globally. Both local and global drivers, including elevated CO2, have been implicated in these increases. The relative importance of different processes is unresolved as there are few multi-site, multi-land-use evaluations of woody plant encroachment. We measured 70 years of woody cover changes over a 1020 km(2) area covering four land uses (commercial ranching, conservation with elephants, conservation without elephants and communal rangelands) across a rainfall gradient in South African savannahs. Different directions of woody cover change would be expected for each different land use, unless a global factor is causing the increases. Woody cover change was measured between 1940 and 2010 using the aerial photo record. Detection of woody cover from each aerial photograph was automated using eCognitions' Object-based image analysis (OBIA). Woody cover doubled in all land uses across the rainfall gradient, except in conservation areas with elephants in low-rainfall savannahs. Woody cover in 2010 in low-rainfall savannahs frequently exceeded the maximum woody cover threshold predicted for African savannahs. The results indicate that a global factor, of which elevated CO2 is the likely candidate, may be driving encroachment. Elephants in low-rainfall savannahs prevent encroachment and localized megafaunal extinction is a probable additional cause of encroachment.This article is part of the themed issue 'Tropical grassy biomes: linking ecology, human use and conservation'. PMID:27502384

  6. Tree and stand transpiration in a Midwestern bur oak savanna after elm encroachment and restoration thinning

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Asbjornsen, H.; Tomer, M.D.; Gomez-Cardenas, M.; Brudvig, L.A.; Greenan, C.M.; Schilling, K.

    2007-01-01

    Oak savannas, once common in the Midwest, are now isolated remnants within agricultural landscapes. Savanna remnants are frequently encroached by invasive trees to become woodlands. Thinning and prescribed burning can restore savanna structure, but the ecohydrological effects of managing these remnants are poorly understood. In this study, we measured sap flow (Js) to quantify transpiration in an Iowa bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) savanna woodland encroached by elms (Ulmus americana), and in an adjacent restored savanna after thinning to remove elms, during summer 2004. Savanna oaks had greater mean daily Js (35.9 L dm-2 day-1) than woodland oaks (20.7 L dm-2 day-1) and elms (12.4 L dm-2 day-1). The response of Js to vapor pressure deficit (D) was unexpectedly weak, although oaks in both stands showed negative correlation between daily Js and D for D > 0.4 kPa. An earlier daily peak in Js in the elm trees showed a possible advantage for water uptake. As anticipated, the woodland's stand transpiration was greater (1.23 mm day-1) than the savanna's (0.35 mm day-1), yet the savanna achieved 30% of the woodland's transpiration with only 11% of its sapwood area. The difference in transpiration influenced water table depths, which were 2 m in the savanna and 6.5 m in the woodland. Regionally, row-crop agriculture has increased groundwater recharge and raised water tables, providing surplus water that perhaps facilitated elm encroachment. This has implications for restoration of savanna remnants. If achieving a savanna ecohydrology is an aim of restoration, then restoration strategies may require buffers, or targeting of large or hydrologically isolated remnants. ?? 2007.

  7. Structural, physiognomic and above-ground biomass variation in savanna-forest transition zones on three continents - how different are co-occurring savanna and forest formations?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Veenendaal, E. M.; Torello-Raventos, M.; Feldpausch, T. R.; Domingues, T. F.; Gerard, F.; Schrodt, F.; Saiz, G.; Quesada, C. A.; Djagbletey, G.; Ford, A.; Kemp, J.; Marimon, B. S.; Marimon-Junior, B. H.; Lenza, E.; Ratter, J. A.; Maracahipes, L.; Sasaki, D.; Sonke, B.; Zapfack, L.; Villarroel, D.; Schwarz, M.; Yoko Ishida, F.; Gilpin, M.; Nardoto, G. B.; Affum-Baffoe, K.; Arroyo, L.; Bloomfield, K.; Ceca, G.; Compaore, H.; Davies, K.; Diallo, A.; Fyllas, N. M.; Gignoux, J.; Hien, F.; Johnson, M.; Mougin, E.; Hiernaux, P.; Killeen, T.; Metcalfe, D.; Miranda, H. S.; Steininger, M.; Sykora, K.; Bird, M. I.; Grace, J.; Lewis, S.; Phillips, O. L.; Lloyd, J.

    2015-05-01

    Through interpretations of remote-sensing data and/or theoretical propositions, the idea that forest and savanna represent "alternative stable states" is gaining increasing acceptance. Filling an observational gap, we present detailed stratified floristic and structural analyses for forest and savanna stands located mostly within zones of transition (where both vegetation types occur in close proximity) in Africa, South America and Australia. Woody plant leaf area index variation was related to tree canopy cover in a similar way for both savanna and forest with substantial overlap between the two vegetation types. As total woody plant canopy cover increased, so did the relative contribution of middle and lower strata of woody vegetation. Herbaceous layer cover declined as woody cover increased. This pattern of understorey grasses and herbs progressively replaced by shrubs as the canopy closes over was found for both savanna and forests and on all continents. Thus, once subordinate woody canopy layers are taken into account, a less marked transition in woody plant cover across the savanna-forest-species discontinuum is observed compared to that inferred when trees of a basal diameter > 0.1 m are considered in isolation. This is especially the case for shrub-dominated savannas and in taller savannas approaching canopy closure. An increased contribution of forest species to the total subordinate cover is also observed as savanna stand canopy closure occurs. Despite similarities in canopy-cover characteristics, woody vegetation in Africa and Australia attained greater heights and stored a greater amount of above-ground biomass than in South America. Up to three times as much above-ground biomass is stored in forests compared to savannas under equivalent climatic conditions. Savanna-forest transition zones were also found to typically occur at higher precipitation regimes for South America than for Africa. Nevertheless, consistent across all three continents coexistence

  8. Beveled reversed elephant trunk procedure for complex aortic aneurysm.

    PubMed

    Fujikawa, Takuya; Yamamoto, Shin; Sekine, Yuji; Oshima, Susumu; Kasai, Reo; Sasaguri, Shiro

    2016-03-01

    The reversed elephant trunk procedure uses an inverted graft for distal aortic replacement before aortic arch replacement in patients with mega aorta, to reduce the risk in the second stage. However, the conventional technique restricts the maximum diameter of the inverted graft to the aortic graft diameter. We employed a beveled reversed elephant trunk procedure to overcome the discrepancy between graft diameters in a 54-year-old woman with a severely twisted ascending aortic graft and enlarging chronic dissection of the aortic arch and descending thoracic aorta. The patient was discharged with a satisfactory repair and no neurologic deficit. PMID:25406402

  9. Comparative Genome Analysis of Four Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses, EEHV3, EEHV4, EEHV5, and EEHV6, from Cases of Hemorrhagic Disease or Viremia

    PubMed Central

    Zong, Jian-Chao; Latimer, Erin M.; Long, Simon Y.; Richman, Laura K.; Heaggans, Sarah Y.

    2014-01-01

    ABSTRACT The genomes of three types of novel endotheliotropic herpesviruses (elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 1A [EEHV1A], EEHV1B, and EEHV2) associated with lethal hemorrhagic disease in Asian elephants have been previously well characterized and assigned to a new Proboscivirus genus. Here we have generated 112 kb of DNA sequence data from segments of four more types of EEHV by direct targeted PCR from blood samples or necropsy tissue samples from six viremic elephants. Comparative phylogenetic analysis of nearly 30 protein-encoding genes of EEHV5 and EEHV6 show that they diverge uniformly by nearly 20% from their closest relatives, EEHV2 and EEHV1A, respectively, and are likely to have similar overall gene content and genome organization. In contrast, seven EEHV3 and EEHV4 genes analyzed differ from those of all other EEHVs by 37% and have a G+C content of 63% compared to just 42% for the others. Three strains of EEHV5 analyzed clustered into two partially chimeric subgroups EEHV5A and EEHV5B that diverge by 19% within three small noncontiguous segments totaling 6.2 kb. We conclude that all six EEHV types should be designated as independent species within a proposed new fourth Deltaherpesvirinae subfamily of mammalian herpesviruses. These virus types likely initially diverged close to 100 million years ago when the ancestors of modern elephants split from all other placental mammals and then evolved into two major branches with high- or low-G+C content about 35 million years ago. Later additional branching events subsequently generated three paired sister taxon lineages of which EEHV1 plus EEHV6, EEHV5 plus EEHV2, and EEHV4 plus EEHV3 may represent Asian and African elephant versions, respectively. IMPORTANCE One of the factors threatening the long-term survival of endangered Asian elephants in both wild range countries and in captive breeding populations in zoos is a highly lethal hemorrhagic herpesvirus disease that has killed at least 70 young Asian

  10. Understanding the ecological complexity of semi-arid savannas using remote sensing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Huang, Cho-Ying

    Savannas are ecosystems with a background herbaceous layer and intermittently distributed woody plants. A large body of literature has revealed that the ecological processes within savannas are complex and the spatial pattern and abundance of woody and herbaceous plants through time may be influenced by various factors. This dissertation research consists of three studies demonstrating the feasibility of utilizing remote sensing techniques to better understand the ecological complexity of semisavannas in southern Arizona, USA. The first study investigated the impacts of recent fire disturbance on structural changes of woody plants at varying scales. Results indicated that while field canopy cover and remote sensing woody cover fraction were strong predictors of woody biomass at local and landscape scales, respectively, fire history can significantly alter the nature of these relationships. This work suggested that simple predictions of woody biomass from field and remote sensing cover measures without considering disturbance will underestimate biomass in mature undisturbed settings, and overestimate biomass in recently disturbed locations in most cases. The second study investigated the ecological stability by implementing a top-down approach to analyze 21 years (1984--2005) of Landsat satellite data. This work suggested that a stable system needed to receive sufficient precipitation for basic plant growth, to be on coarse-textured and shallow soils that can efficiently store precipitation but inhibit the proliferation of woody plants, and to be on east facing slopes which can support clement microclimate. The perspectives gained from this study will enable us to target fine-scale field studies seeking to address circumstances conferring ecosystem stability; and improve predictions of potential carbon stocks in drylands. The third study derived the unique temporal and spatial signatures of vegetation [the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)] and

  11. EFFECTS OF PRESCRIBED FIRES ON NITROGEN FLUXES IN SAVANNA FORMATIONS OF CENTRAL BRAZIL

    EPA Science Inventory

    Savanna ecosystems are controlled by the interactions between water and nutrient availability. The savannas of Central Brazil (Cerrado) are the second most extensive plant formation in tropical South America with two million km2 of area. The Cerrado landscape contains different ...

  12. Hydraulic Lift As a Determinant of Tree-Grass Coexistence on Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yu, K.; D'Odorico, P.

    2014-12-01

    The coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas is determined by a complex set of interacting factors, including resource availability and disturbance. Existing theories explaining coexistence focus on competitive relations or disturbances preventing the system from attaining a state with complete grass or tree dominance. The effect of hydraulic lift on interactions between woody plants and grasses and the dynamics of savanna ecosystems remains poorly understood. Here, we develop a mechanistic model to investigate the role of hydraulic lift on the stability of savannas. The model accounts both for competition for soil water in the shallow soil layer and fire-induced disturbance. We find that hydraulic lift expands the parameter range in which savannas are stable at the expense of woodlands. Our study shows that hydraulic lift can be an important mechanism responsible for coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas.

  13. Structural, physiognomic and aboveground biomass variation in savanna-forest transition zones on three continents. How different are co-occurring savanna and forest formations?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Veenendaal, E. M.; Torello-Raventos, M.; Feldpausch, T. R.; Domingues, T. F.; Gerard, F.; Schrodt, F.; Saiz, G.; Quesada, C. A.; Djagbletey, G.; Ford, A.; Kemp, J.; Marimon, B. S.; Marimon-Junior, B. H.; Lenza, E.; Ratter, J. A.; Maracahipes, L.; Sasaki, D.; Sonké, B.; Zapfack, L.; Villarroel, D.; Schwarz, M.; Yoko Ishida, F.; Gilpin, M.; Nardoto, G. B.; Affum-Baffoe, K.; Arroyo, L.; Bloomfield, K.; Ceca, G.; Compaore, H.; Davies, K.; Diallo, A.; Fyllas, N. M.; Gignoux, J.; Hien, F.; Johnson, M.; Mougin, E.; Hiernaux, P.; Killeen, T.; Metcalfe, D.; Miranda, H. S.; Steininger, M.; Sykora, K.; Bird, M. I.; Grace, J.; Lewis, S.; Phillips, O. L.; Lloyd, J.

    2014-03-01

    Through interpretations of remote sensing data and/or theoretical propositions, the idea that forest and savanna represent "alternative stable states" is gaining increasing acceptance. Filling an observational gap, we present detailed stratified floristic and structural analyses for forest and savanna stands mostly located within zones of transition (where both vegetation types occur in close proximity) in Africa, South America and Australia. Woody plant leaf area index variation was related in a similar way to tree canopy cover for both savanna and forest with substantial overlap between the two vegetation types. As total woody plant canopy cover increased, so did the contribution of middle and lower strata of woody vegetation to this total. Herbaceous layer cover also declined as woody cover increased. This pattern of understorey grasses and herbs being progressively replaced by shrubs as canopy closure occurs was found for both savanna and forests and on all continents. Thus, once subordinate woody canopy layers are taken into account, a less marked transition in woody plant cover across the savanna-forest species discontinuum is observed compared to that implied when trees of a basal diameter > 0.1m are considered in isolation. This is especially the case for shrub-dominated savannas and in taller savannas approaching canopy closure. An increased contribution of forest species to the total subordinate cover is also observed as savanna stand canopy closure occurs. Despite similarities in canopy cover characteristics, woody vegetation in Africa and Australia attained greater heights and stored a greater concentration of above ground biomass than in South America. Up to three times as much aboveground biomass is stored in forests compared to savannas under equivalent climatic conditions. Savanna/forest transition zones were also found to typically occur at higher precipitation regimes for South America than for Africa. Nevertheless, coexistence was found to be

  14. A visual health assessment of captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) housed in India.

    PubMed

    Ramanathan, Anand; Mallapur, Avanti

    2008-06-01

    A visual health assessment and survey questionnaire was conducted on 81 Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) housed in 10 animal facilities throughout India between November 2004 and February 2005. The survey questionnaire consisted of 10 questions that evaluated the health of the elephants, and they were completed after visually assessing each individual elephant. The information collected was ranked on a scale that was used to statistically compare the health among the study subjects. This study documented that 43.21% of the captive elephants surveyed exhibited hyperkeratosis. A significant proportion of the elephants owned by tourist camps had poor skin condition when compared with elephants from zoos and at a forest camp. Similarly, captive-born individuals were found to have better skin condition than animals that were caught from the wild. Sixty (74.1%) of the captive elephants that were observed during this study had fissures in their footpads, 20% of which were severe. The prevalence of foot fissures was significantly higher in females. A greater proportion of elephants owned by tourist camps displayed vertical and horizontal toenail cracks in comparison with the forest camp and zoo elephants. It was noted that 76.9% of the wounded animals and 80% of those having abscesses were housed at temples and tourist camps. Also, approximately 8.5% of the captive elephant population observed during this study had eye-related problems, and they were all housed at temples and tourist camps. In conclusion, it was evident that elephants housed at temples or tourist camps exhibited poor skin condition with wounds and abscesses. These findings suggest that the overall condition of the elephants housed at tourist camps was poor compared with elephants housed at zoos and at the forest camp. PMID:18634204

  15. Change in Mesoherbivore Browsing Is Mediated by Elephant and Hillslope Position

    PubMed Central

    Lagendijk, D. D. Georgette; Thaker, Maria; de Boer, Willem F.; Page, Bruce R.; Prins, Herbert H. T.; Slotow, Rob

    2015-01-01

    Elephant are considered major drivers of ecosystems, but their effects within small-scale landscape features and on other herbivores still remain unclear. Elephant impact on vegetation has been widely studied in areas where elephant have been present for many years. We therefore examined the combined effect of short-term elephant presence (< 4 years) and hillslope position on tree species assemblages, resource availability, browsing intensity and soil properties. Short-term elephant presence did not affect woody species assemblages, but did affect height distribution, with greater sapling densities in elephant access areas. Overall tree and stem densities were also not affected by elephant. By contrast, slope position affected woody species assemblages, but not height distributions and densities. Variation in species assemblages was statistically best explained by levels of total cations, Zinc, sand and clay. Although elephant and mesoherbivore browsing intensities were unaffected by slope position, we found lower mesoherbivore browsing intensity on crests with high elephant browsing intensity. Thus, elephant appear to indirectly facilitate the survival of saplings, via the displacement of mesoherbivores, providing a window of opportunity for saplings to grow into taller trees. In the short-term, effects of elephant can be minor and in the opposite direction of expectation. In addition, such behavioural displacement promotes recruitment of saplings into larger height classes. The interaction between slope position and elephant effect found here is in contrast with other studies, and illustrates the importance of examining ecosystem complexity as a function of variation in species presence and topography. The absence of a direct effect of elephant on vegetation, but the presence of an effect on mesoherbivore browsing, is relevant for conservation areas especially where both herbivore groups are actively managed. PMID:26083248

  16. Elmer and His Elephant Friends. Literature in the Art Room.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Sigan, Jackie

    2000-01-01

    Describes a first-grade lesson that combines art and literature in which students learn how to mix colors. Explains that they listen to the story "Elmer" by David McKee and then create their own patchwork elephants just like Elmer. Discusses how the students made the jungle scene. (CMK)

  17. Elephants classify human ethnic groups by odor and garment color.

    PubMed

    Bates, Lucy A; Sayialel, Katito N; Njiraini, Norah W; Moss, Cynthia J; Poole, Joyce H; Byrne, Richard W

    2007-11-20

    Animals can benefit from classifying predators or other dangers into categories, tailoring their escape strategies to the type and nature of the risk. Studies of alarm vocalizations have revealed various levels of sophistication in classification. In many taxa, reactions to danger are inflexible, but some species can learn the level of threat presented by the local population of a predator or by specific, recognizable individuals. Some species distinguish several species of predator, giving differentiated warning calls and escape reactions; here, we explore an animal's classification of subgroups within a species. We show that elephants distinguish at least two Kenyan ethnic groups and can identify them by olfactory and color cues independently. In the Amboseli ecosystem, Kenya, young Maasai men demonstrate virility by spearing elephants (Loxodonta africana), but Kamba agriculturalists pose little threat. Elephants showed greater fear when they detected the scent of garments previously worn by Maasai than by Kamba men, and they reacted aggressively to the color associated with Maasai. Elephants are therefore able to classify members of a single species into subgroups that pose different degrees of danger. PMID:17949977

  18. Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) reassure others in distress.

    PubMed

    Plotnik, Joshua M; de Waal, Frans B M

    2014-01-01

    Contact directed by uninvolved bystanders toward others in distress, often termed consolation, is uncommon in the animal kingdom, thus far only demonstrated in the great apes, canines, and corvids. Whereas the typical agonistic context of such contact is relatively rare within natural elephant families, other causes of distress may trigger similar, other-regarding responses. In a study carried out at an elephant camp in Thailand, we found that elephants affiliated significantly more with other individuals through directed, physical contact and vocal communication following a distress event than in control periods. In addition, bystanders affiliated with each other, and matched the behavior and emotional state of the first distressed individual, suggesting emotional contagion. The initial distress responses were overwhelmingly directed toward ambiguous stimuli, thus making it difficult to determine if bystanders reacted to the distressed individual or showed a delayed response to the same stimulus. Nonetheless, the directionality of the contacts and their nature strongly suggest attention toward the emotional states of conspecifics. The elephants' behavior is therefore best classified with similar consolation responses by apes, possibly based on convergent evolution of empathic capacities. PMID:24688856

  19. Understory plant communities and the functional distinction between savanna trees, forest trees, and pines.

    SciTech Connect

    Veldman, Joseph, W., Mattingly, Brett, W., Brudvig, Lars, A.

    2013-04-01

    Abstract. Although savanna trees and forest trees are thought to represent distinct functional groups with different effects on ecosystem processes, few empirical studies have examined these effects. In particular, it remains unclear if savanna and forest trees differ in their ability to coexist with understory plants, which comprise the majority of plant diversity in most savannas. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) and data from 157 sites across three locations in the southeastern United States to understand the effects of broadleaf savanna trees, broadleaf forest trees, and pine trees on savanna understory plant communities. After accounting for underlying gradients in fire frequency and soil moisture, abundances (i.e., basal area and stem density) of forest trees and pines, but not savanna trees, were negatively correlated with the cover and density (i.e., local-scale species richness) of C4 graminoid species, a defining savanna understory functional group that is linked to ecosystem flammability. In analyses of the full understory community, abundances of trees from all functional groups were negatively correlated with species density and cover. For both the C4 and full communities, fire frequency promoted understory plants directly, and indirectly by limiting forest tree abundance. There was little indirect influence of fire on the understory mediated through savanna trees and pines, which are more fire tolerant than forest trees. We conclude that tree functional identity is an important factor that influences overstory tree relationships with savanna understory plant communities. In particular, distinct relationships between trees and C4 graminoids have implications for grass-tree coexistence and vegetation-fire feedbacks that maintain savanna environments and their associated understory plant diversity.

  20. Understory plant communities and the functional distinction between savanna trees, forest trees, and pines.

    PubMed

    Veldman, Joseph W; Mattingly, W Brett; Brudvig, Lars A

    2013-02-01

    Although savanna trees and forest trees are thought to represent distinct functional groups with different effects on ecosystem processes, few empirical studies have examined these effects. In particular, it remains unclear if savanna and forest trees differ in their ability to coexist with understory plants, which comprise the majority of plant diversity in most savannas. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) and data from 157 sites across three locations in the southeastern United States to understand the effects of broadleaf savanna trees, broadleaf forest trees, and pine trees on savanna understory plant communities. After accounting for underlying gradients in fire frequency and soil moisture, abundances (i.e., basal area and stem density) of forest trees and pines, but not savanna trees, were negatively correlated with the cover and density (i.e., local-scale species richness) of C4 graminoid species, a defining savanna understory functional group that is linked to ecosystem flammability. In analyses of the full understory community, abundances of trees from all functional groups were negatively correlated with species density and cover. For both the C4 and full communities, fire frequency promoted understory plants directly, and indirectly by limiting forest tree abundance. There was little indirect influence of fire on the understory mediated through savanna trees and pines, which are morefire tolerant than forest trees. We conclude that tree functional identity is an important factor that influences overstory tree relationships with savanna understory plant communities. In particular, distinct relationships between trees and C4 graminoids have implications for grass-tree coexistence and vegetation-fire feedbacks that maintain savanna environments and their associated understory plant diversity. PMID:23691661

  1. Comparison of Infiltrability Measurements in the Thornbush Savanna, Namibia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Classen, Nikolaus; Gröngröft, Alexander; Eschenbach, Annette

    2010-05-01

    Large proportions of Namibian Savannas are affected by strong bush encroachment leading to a reduction in grazing capacity. Especially woody plant encroachment is expected to have an impact on hydrology by increasing plant transpiration, bare soil evaporation and reducing soil water availability (HUXMAN et al. 2005). Although the processes are not fully understood, the role of soil water balance is highlighted by many studies. Especially the small-scale interactions of vegetation and soil are of high relevance. To characterize the water balance of different sites in the Namibian thornbush savanna long-term studies were conducted. In addition we applied three methods to quantify the infiltration rate (IR) at four central Namibian thornbush savanna sites differing in soil texture and vegetation type: a single ring (own construction, 14 cm inner diameter), a disc-infiltrometer (Eijkelkamp Agrisearch Equipment BV) and a hood infiltrometer (UGT Umwelt-Geräte-Technik GmbH). At each site, the measurements we conducted along short transect lines (15 m) in positions with differing plant influence (canopy of Acacia trees and shrubs, grass and dwarf-shrub tussocks, bare soil, termitaria). All three methods resulted in different mean IR as well as spatial distribution patterns. Using statistical analysis by ANOVA, dominant controlling variables were elaborated. The poster will demonstrate which of the methods is defensible with respect to the research question. References : HUXMAN, T. E., B. P. WILCOX, et al. (2005): Ecohydrological implications of woody plant encroachment. Ecology 86(2): 308-319. Acknowledgment: The work was founded by BMBF within the Project Biota South (support code 01LC 0624 A2).

  2. Fires in tropical savanna ecosystems -- The need for mitigation?

    SciTech Connect

    Ward, D.E.; Shea, R.; Hao, W.M.

    1994-12-31

    Fires in savanna ecosystems are usually considered to be ``natural`` in that the ecosystems where fire is present generally have evolved in the presence of fire. In the past several decades, with large increases in population in most of the tropical countries, there has been an accelerated demand for fuel wood, charcoal, building materials, and agriculture. The overall effect has been to reduce the above-ground biomass and to cycle the carbon more frequently. The authors discuss the mitigation strategies for reducing the release of carbon from charcoal production and shifting cultivation.

  3. Trace Gas Emissions From Tropical North Australian Savanna Fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paton-Walsh, C.; Deutscher, N. M.; Griffith, D. W.; Wilson, S. R.; Jones, N. B.; Forgan, B.

    2008-12-01

    We present measurements of atmospheric trace gases within smoke plumes from tropical North Australian savanna fires. The remote sensing measurements are made from Darwin (12.4°S, 130.9°E) using Fourier Transform spectroscopy with the sun as the source. From these infrared spectra column amounts of carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde (H2CO), acetylene (C2H2), ethane (C2H6) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) have been determined. Literature esimates of emission factors for CO are then used to infer emission factors for these other gases.

  4. Fuel model selection for BEHAVE in midwestern oak savannas

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Grabner, K.W.; Dwyer, J.P.; Cutter, B.E.

    2001-01-01

    BEHAVE, a fire behavior prediction system, can be a useful tool for managing areas with prescribed fire. However, the proper choice of fuel models can be critical in developing management scenarios. BEHAVE predictions were evaluated using four standardized fuel models that partially described oak savanna fuel conditions: Fuel Model 1 (Short Grass), 2 (Timber and Grass), 3 (Tall Grass), and 9 (Hardwood Litter). Although all four models yielded regressions with R2 in excess of 0.8, Fuel Model 2 produced the most reliable fire behavior predictions.

  5. Elephants Also Like Coffee: Trends and Drivers of Human-Elephant Conflicts in Coffee Agroforestry Landscapes of Kodagu, Western Ghats, India

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bal, P.; Nath, C. D.; Nanaya, K. M.; Kushalappa, C. G.; Garcia, C.

    2011-05-01

    Kodagu district produces 2% of the world's coffee, in complex, multistoried agroforestry systems. The forests of the district harbour a large population of the Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus). The combined effects of high elephant density and major landscape changes due to the expansion of coffee cultivation are the cause of human-elephant conflicts (HEC). Mitigation strategies, including electric fences and compensation schemes implemented by the Forest Department have met with limited success. Building on previous studies in the area, we assessed current spatial and temporal trends of conflict, analysed local stakeholders' perceptions and identified factors driving elephants into the estates. Our study, initiated in May 2007, shows that the intensity of HEC has increased over the last 10 years, exhibiting new seasonal patterns. Conflict maps and the lack of correlation between physical features of the coffee plantations and elephant visits suggest elephants move along corridors between the eastern and western forests of the district, opportunistically foraging when crossing the plantations. Dung analyses indicate elephants have selectively included ripe coffee berries in their diet. This is, to our knowledge, the first report of wild elephants feeding on coffee berries. If this new behaviour spreads through the population, it will compound an already severe conflict situation. The behavioural plasticity, the multiplicity of stakeholders involved, the difficulty in defining the problem and the limits of technical solutions already proposed suggest that HEC in Kodagu has the ingredients of a "wicked" problem whose resolution will require more shared understanding and problem solving work amongst the stakeholders.

  6. Erratum: Erratum to: Elephants Also Like Coffee: Trends and Drivers of Human-Elephant Conflicts in Coffee Agroforestry Landscapes of Kodagu, Western Ghats, India

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bal, P.; Nath, C. D.; Nanaya, K. M.; Kushalappa, C. G.; Garcia, C.

    2011-08-01

    Kodagu district produces 2% of the world's coffee, in complex, multistoried agroforestry systems. The forests of the district harbour a large population of the Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus). The combined effects of high elephant density and major landscape changes due to the expansion of coffee cultivation are the cause of human-elephant conflicts (HEC). Mitigation strategies, including electric fences and compensation schemes implemented by the Forest Department have met with limited success. Building on previous studies in the area, we assessed current spatial and temporal trends of conflict, analysed local stakeholders' perceptions and identified factors driving elephants into the estates. Our study, initiated in May 2007, shows that the intensity of HEC has increased over the last 10 years, exhibiting new seasonal patterns. Conflict maps and the lack of correlation between physical features of the coffee plantations and elephant visits suggest elephants move along corridors between the eastern and western forests of the district, opportunistically foraging when crossing the plantations. Dung analyses indicate elephants have selectively included ripe coffee berries in their diet. This is, to our knowledge, the first report of wild elephants feeding on coffee berries. If this new behaviour spreads through the population, it will compound an already severe conflict situation. The behavioural plasticity, the multiplicity of stakeholders involved, the difficulty in defining the problem and the limits of technical solutions already proposed suggest that HEC in Kodagu has the ingredients of a "wicked" problem whose resolution will require more shared understanding and problem solving work amongst the stakeholders.

  7. The dynamics of social networks among female Asian elephants

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Patterns in the association of individuals can shed light on the underlying conditions and processes that shape societies. Here we characterize patterns of association in a population of wild Asian Elephants at Uda Walawe National Park in Sri Lanka. We observed 286 individually-identified adult female elephants over 20 months and examined their social dynamics at three levels of organization: pairs of individuals (dyads), small sets of direct companions (ego-networks), and the population level (complete networks). Results Corroborating previous studies of this and other Asian elephant populations, we find that the sizes of elephant groups observed in the field on any particular day are typically small and that rates of association are low. In contrast to earlier studies, our longitudinal observations reveal that individuals form larger social units that can be remarkably stable across years while associations among such units change across seasons. Association rates tend to peak in dry seasons as opposed to wet seasons, with some cyclicity at the level of dyads. In addition, we find that individuals vary substantially in their fidelity to companions. At the ego-network level, we find that despite these fluctuations, individuals associate with a pool of long-term companions. At the population level, social networks do not exhibit any clear seasonal structure or hierarchical stratification. Conclusions This detailed longitudinal study reveals different social dynamics at different levels of organization. Taken together, these results demonstrate that low association rates, seemingly small group sizes, and fission-fusion grouping behavior mask hidden stability in the extensive and fluid social affiliations in this population of Asian elephants. PMID:21794147

  8. Longitudinal study of Asian elephants, Elephas maximus, indicates intermittent shedding of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 1 during pregnancy

    PubMed Central

    Bennett, Laura; Dunham, Stephen; Yon, Lisa; Chapman, Sarah; Kenaghan, Megan; Purdie, Laura; Tarlinton, Rachael

    2015-01-01

    Introduction EEHV-1 is a viral infection of elephants that has been associated with a fatal haemorrhagic syndrome in Asian elephants. Previous studies have suggested that pregnant animals may shed more virus than non-pregnant animals. Methods This study examined whether pregnancy affected the frequency or magnitude of shedding of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 1 (EEHV1) using Taq man real-time PCR on trunk washes from four female elephants from a UK collection over three time periods between 2011 and 2014. These periods included pregnancies in two animals (period 1 and period 3). Behavioural observations made by keepers were also assessed. Results During period 1 there was a high degree of social hierarchical instability which led to a hierarchy change, and was associated with aggressive behaviour. Also during period 1 EEHV-1 shedding was of a higher magnitude and frequency than in the latter two time periods. Conclusions These results suggest that there is no clear relationship between shedding and pregnancy, and that behavioural stressors may be related to an increase in EEHV-1 shedding. PMID:26392899

  9. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in elephants (Elephus maximus indicus) in Thailand.

    PubMed

    Tuntasuvan, D; Mohkaew, K; Dubey, J P

    2001-02-01

    Serum samples from captive 156 elephants (Elephus maximus indicus) from Thailand were examined for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii using the modified agglutination test (MAT) and the latex agglutination test (LAT). Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 45.5% of 156 elephants by MAT (> or = 1:50) and 25.6% of 156 elephants by LAT (> or = 1:64). This is the first report of T. gondii infection in E. maximus indicus from Asia. PMID:11227899

  10. An investigation into resting behavior in Asian elephants in UK zoos.

    PubMed

    Williams, Ellen; Bremner-Harrison, Samantha; Harvey, Naomi; Evison, Emma; Yon, Lisa

    2015-01-01

    Maintaining adequate welfare in captive elephants is challenging. Few studies have investigated overnight rest behavior in zoo elephants, yet time spent resting has been identified as a welfare indicator in some species. We investigated resting behavior in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in UK zoos, with the aim of identifying patterns or preferences in lying rest. Details of standing (SR) and lying (LR) rest behavior were identified by observing video footage of inside enclosures collected for 14 elephants (2 male, 12 female) housed at three UK zoos (Zoo A: 18 nights; Zoo B: 27 nights; Zoo C: 46 nights) from 16:00 to 08:30 (approximately). Elephants engaged in a mean of 58-337 min rest per night. Time of night affected mean duration of LR bouts (P < 0.001); longest bouts were observed between 22:01 and 06:00. Elephants showed a substrate preference when lying to rest; LR was not observed on concrete or tiled flooring. Where sand was available (to 11/14 elephants), all elephants engaged in LR on sand flooring. Only two elephants engaged in LR on rubber flooring (available to 7/14 elephants). Mean duration of rest bouts was greater when a conspecific was within two body lengths than when conspecifics were not (P < 0.01). Our study indicated that elephants show substrate preferences when choosing an area for rest and engage in more rest when conspecifics are in close proximity. The results of this study could be used as a basis for future studies investigating the link between rest and welfare in captive elephants. PMID:26189573

  11. Effect of wildfires on surface reflectance from a savanna ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Poudyal, R.; Gatebe, C. K.; Ichoku, C. M.; Varnai, T.

    2015-12-01

    During an airborne field campaign in South Africa in 2005, NASA's Cloud Absorption Radiometer (CAR) flew aboard South Africa Weather Service, Aerocommander 690A and measured surface bidirectional reflectance-distribution function (BRDF) over savanna comprised mostly of grasses and a few scattered trees. Savannas cover half the surface of Africa, large areas of Australia, South America, and India. . The region that was studied is located in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, which was heavily affected by the wildfires. The CAR measured surface reflectance along its flight path covering both burned and unburned areas. . In this study, we compared surface reflectance between burnt and un-burnt areas at various wavelengths (340nm, 380nm, 472nm, 682nm, 870nm, 1036nm, 1219nm, 1273nm, and 2205nm) at satellite sub-pixel scales. We found a relative burnt surface reflectance decrease of between 8 and 65% due to fires. These results not only serve to highlight the importance of biomass burning and effects on the energy budgets, but also the need to determine the effects of albedo changes due to fires on soil moisture budget, evapotranspiration, infiltration, and runoff, all of which govern the land-surface component of the water cycle.

  12. Modelling Fire Frequency in a Cerrado Savanna Protected Area

    PubMed Central

    Pereira Júnior, Alfredo C.; Oliveira, Sofia L. J.; Pereira, José M. C.; Turkman, Maria Antónia Amaral

    2014-01-01

    Covering almost a quarter of Brazil, the Cerrado is the world’s most biologically rich tropical savanna. Fire is an integral part of the Cerrado but current land use and agricultural practices have been changing fire regimes, with undesirable consequences for the preservation of biodiversity. In this study, fire frequency and fire return intervals were modelled over a 12-year time series (1997–2008) for the Jalapão State Park, a protected area in the north of the Cerrado, based on burned area maps derived from Landsat imagery. Burned areas were classified using object based image analysis. Fire data were modelled with the discrete lognormal model and the estimated parameters were used to calculate fire interval, fire survival and hazard of burning distributions, for seven major land cover types. Over the study period, an area equivalent to four times the size of Jalapão State Park burned and the mean annual area burned was 34%. Median fire intervals were generally short, ranging from three to six years. Shrub savannas had the shortest fire intervals, and dense woodlands the longest. Because fires in the Cerrado are strongly responsive to fuel age in the first three to four years following a fire, early dry season patch mosaic burning may be used to reduce the extent of area burned and the severity of fire effects. PMID:25054540

  13. Abandoned pastoral settlements provide concentrations of resources for savanna birds

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Söderström, Bo; Reid, Robin S.

    2010-03-01

    Knowledge is poor of how fertilization affects birds in grasslands. We investigated the impact on birds of abandoned pastoral settlements that historically received very high levels of livestock dung. A total of 28 abandoned settlements and 74 landscape controls - in Koyake Group Ranch and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya - were surveyed for birds during the wet and/or dry season. Our results showed that bird species richness and total abundance increased within 200 m of abandoned pastoral settlements, particularly during the dry season when foraging resources on the savanna are limited. The high concentrations of nutrients inside abandoned settlements favoured the abundance of Diptera and Coleoptera, as shown by invertebrate surveys performed during the dry season on a subset of 32 sites. Both total numbers and dry biomass of these two invertebrate orders were higher on abandoned settlements in comparison with the surrounding landscape. We conclude that higher fertilization levels cause a temporal and spatial redistribution of birds on the savanna. Livestock fertilization and bird abundance are probably linked through an increase in abundance of invertebrate food upon which birds feed in an opportunistic fashion.

  14. Modelling fire frequency in a Cerrado savanna protected area.

    PubMed

    Pereira Júnior, Alfredo C; Oliveira, Sofia L J; Pereira, José M C; Turkman, Maria Antónia Amaral

    2014-01-01

    Covering almost a quarter of Brazil, the Cerrado is the world's most biologically rich tropical savanna. Fire is an integral part of the Cerrado but current land use and agricultural practices have been changing fire regimes, with undesirable consequences for the preservation of biodiversity. In this study, fire frequency and fire return intervals were modelled over a 12-year time series (1997-2008) for the Jalapão State Park, a protected area in the north of the Cerrado, based on burned area maps derived from Landsat imagery. Burned areas were classified using object based image analysis. Fire data were modelled with the discrete lognormal model and the estimated parameters were used to calculate fire interval, fire survival and hazard of burning distributions, for seven major land cover types. Over the study period, an area equivalent to four times the size of Jalapão State Park burned and the mean annual area burned was 34%. Median fire intervals were generally short, ranging from three to six years. Shrub savannas had the shortest fire intervals, and dense woodlands the longest. Because fires in the Cerrado are strongly responsive to fuel age in the first three to four years following a fire, early dry season patch mosaic burning may be used to reduce the extent of area burned and the severity of fire effects. PMID:25054540

  15. Ant plant herbivore interactions in the neotropical cerrado savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oliveira, Paulo S.; Freitas, André V. L.

    2004-12-01

    The Brazilian cerrado savanna covers nearly 2 million km2 and has a high incidence on foliage of various liquid food sources such as extrafloral nectar and insect exudates. These liquid rewards generate intense ant activity on cerrado foliage, making ant plant herbivore interactions especially prevalent in this biome. We present data on the distribution and abundance of extrafloral nectaries in the woody flora of cerrado communities and in the flora of other habitats worldwide, and stress the relevance of liquid food sources (including hemipteran honeydew) for the ant fauna. Consumption by ants of plant and insect exudates significantly affects the activity of the associated herbivores of cerrado plant species, with varying impacts on the reproductive output of the plants. Experiments with an ant plant butterfly system unequivocally demonstrate that the behavior of both immature and adult lepidopterans is closely related to the use of a risky host plant, where intensive visitation by ants can have a severe impact on caterpillar survival. We discuss recent evidence suggesting that the occurrence of liquid rewards on leaves plays a key role in mediating the foraging ecology of foliage-dwelling ants, and that facultative ant plant mutualisms are important in structuring the community of canopy arthropods. Ant-mediated effects on cerrado herbivore communities can be revealed by experiments performed on wide spatial scales, including many environmental factors such as soil fertility and vegetation structure. We also present some research questions that could be rewarding to investigate in this major neotropical savanna.

  16. The contribution of trees and grasses to productivity of an Australian tropical savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moore, C. E.; Beringer, J.; Evans, B.; Hutley, L. B.; McHugh, I.; Tapper, N. J.

    2015-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems cover 20 % of the global land surface and account for 25 % of global terrestrial carbon uptake. They support one fifth of the world's human population and are one of the most important ecosystems on our planet. Savanna productivity is a product of the interplay between trees and grass that co-dominate savanna landscapes and are maintained through interactions with climate and disturbance (fire, land use change, herbivory). In this study, we evaluate the temporally dynamic partitioning of overstory and understory carbon dioxide fluxes in Australian tropical savanna using overstory and understory eddy covariance measurements. Over a two year period (September 2012 to October 2014) the overall net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of the savanna was 506.2 (±22 SE) g C m-2 yr-1. The total gross primary productivity (GPP) was 2267.1 (±80 SE) g C m-2 yr-1, of which the understory contributed 32 %. The understory contribution was strongly seasonal, with most GPP occurring in the wet season (40 % of total ecosystem in the wet season and 18 % in the dry). This study is the first to elucidate the temporal dynamics of savanna understory and overstory carbon flux components explicitly using observational information. Understanding grass productivity is crucial for evaluating fuel loads, as is tree productivity for quantifying the tree carbon sink. This information will contribute to a significant refinement of the representation of savannas in models, as well as improved understanding of relative tree-grass productivity and competition for resources.

  17. The contribution of trees and grasses to productivity of an Australian tropical savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moore, Caitlin E.; Beringer, Jason; Evans, Bradley; Hutley, Lindsay B.; McHugh, Ian; Tapper, Nigel J.

    2016-04-01

    Savanna ecosystems cover 20 % of the global land surface and account for 25 % of global terrestrial carbon uptake. They support one fifth of the world's human population and are one of the most important ecosystems on our planet. Savanna productivity is a product of the interplay between trees and grass that co-dominate savanna landscapes and are maintained through interactions with climate and disturbance (fire, land use change, herbivory). In this study, we evaluate the temporally dynamic partitioning of overstory and understory carbon dioxide fluxes in Australian tropical savanna using overstory and understory eddy covariance measurements. Over a 2-year period (September 2012 to October 2014) the overall net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of the savanna was 506.2 (±22 SE) g C m-2 yr-1. The total gross primary productivity (GPP) was 2267.1 (±80 SE) g C m-2 yr-1, of which the understory contributed 32 %. The understory contribution was strongly seasonal, with most GPP occurring in the wet season (40 % of total ecosystem in the wet season and 18 % in the dry). This study is the first to elucidate the temporal dynamics of savanna understory and overstory carbon flux components explicitly using observational information. Understanding grass productivity is crucial for evaluating fuel loads, as is tree productivity for quantifying the tree carbon sink. This information will contribute to a significant refinement of the representation of savannas in models, as well as improved understanding of relative tree-grass productivity and competition for resources.

  18. Environmental determinants of tropical forest and savanna distribution: A quantitative model evaluation and its implication

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zeng, Zhenzhong; Chen, Anping; Piao, Shilong; Rabin, Sam; Shen, Zehao

    2014-07-01

    The distributions of tropical ecosystems are rapidly being altered by climate change and anthropogenic activities. One possible trend—the loss of tropical forests and replacement by savannas—could result in significant shifts in ecosystem services and biodiversity loss. However, the influence and the relative importance of environmental factors in regulating the distribution of tropical forest and savanna biomes are still poorly understood, which makes it difficult to predict future tropical forest and savanna distributions in the context of climate change. Here we use boosted regression trees to quantitatively evaluate the importance of environmental predictors—mainly climatic, edaphic, and fire factors—for the tropical forest-savanna distribution at a mesoscale across the tropics (between 15°N and 35°S). Our results demonstrate that climate alone can explain most of the distribution of tropical forest and savanna at the scale considered; dry season average precipitation is the single most important determinant across tropical Asia-Australia, Africa, and South America. Given the strong tendency of increased seasonality and decreased dry season precipitation predicted by global climate models, we estimate that about 28% of what is now tropical forest would likely be lost to savanna by the late 21st century under the future scenario considered. This study highlights the importance of climate seasonality and interannual variability in predicting the distribution of tropical forest and savanna, supporting the climate as the primary driver in the savanna biogeography.

  19. An Improved Real Time Image Detection System for Elephant Intrusion along the Forest Border Areas

    PubMed Central

    Sugumar, S. J.; Jayaparvathy, R.

    2014-01-01

    Human-elephant conflict is a major problem leading to crop damage, human death and injuries caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans. In this paper, we propose an automated unsupervised elephant image detection system (EIDS) as a solution to human-elephant conflict in the context of elephant conservation. The elephant's image is captured in the forest border areas and is sent to a base station via an RF network. The received image is decomposed using Haar wavelet to obtain multilevel wavelet coefficients, with which we perform image feature extraction and similarity match between the elephant query image and the database image using image vision algorithms. A GSM message is sent to the forest officials indicating that an elephant has been detected in the forest border and is approaching human habitat. We propose an optimized distance metric to improve the image retrieval time from the database. We compare the optimized distance metric with the popular Euclidean and Manhattan distance methods. The proposed optimized distance metric retrieves more images with lesser retrieval time than the other distance metrics which makes the optimized distance method more efficient and reliable. PMID:24574886

  20. Elephant (Elephas maximus) Health and Management in Asia: Variations in Veterinary Perspectives

    PubMed Central

    Miller, David; Jackson, Bradford; Riddle, Heidi S.; Stremme, Christopher; Miller, Thaddeus

    2015-01-01

    There is a need to identify strategic investments in Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) health that will yield maximal benefits for overall elephant health and conservation. As an exploratory first step, a survey was administered to veterinarians from Asian elephant range countries at a workshop and via email to help prioritize health-related concerns that will mostly benefit elephants. Responses were received from 45 veterinarians from eight countries that had a range of experience with captive and wild elephants. The occurrence of medical conditions and responses to treatment varied among responses. However, injuries, parasitism, and gastrointestinal disease were reported as the most common syndromes responsible for elephant morbidity, whereas injury and infectious disease not due to parasitism were the most commonly reported sources of elephant mortality. Substandard nutrition, water quality and quantity deficiencies, and inadequate or absent shelter were among the factors listed as barriers to optimal elephant health. While this survey's results do not support definitive conclusions, they can be used to identify where and how subsequent investigations should be directed. Rigorous assessment of the relative costs and benefits of available options is required to ensure that investments in individual and population health yield the maximal benefits for elephants. PMID:25688328