Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Notre Dame researchers are providing insights into elephant behavior and conservation issues

29.02.2012
Last year, Kenya lost 278 elephants to poachers, as compared to 177 in 2010. On the continent of Africa as whole, elephants have declined from an estimated 700,000 in 1990 to 360,000 today due to the demands of the ivory trade.

Spend some time with University of Notre Dame researchers Elizabeth Archie and Patrick Chiyo and you'll gain a better understanding of just what a tragic loss elephant poaching is.

A thinking, reasoning species with extraordinary memories, a strong sense of families and caring and nurturing natures are increasingly at the risk of extinction.

Archie's Notre Dame lab combines fieldwork and genetics research to understand the causes and consequences of social behavior in wild mammals. Her research team examines how migration, mating and social patterns impact the genetics and evolution of a species and its fitness and susceptibility to diseases.

Archie, Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Biology, and Chiyo, a Moreau postdoctoral fellow, use research techniques that range from behavioral observations of wild animals to noninvasive genetic tools to genotype species and their parasites and patterns.

The research lab studies baboons in and elephants in Kenya. Archie and Chiyo work with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP), located just north of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya, which is the longest running study of wild elephants.

In the field, the researchers observe the behavior of the elephants and collect samples for genetic analysis, usually from noninvasive sources, such as dung. In their Notre Dame lab, they use the dung samples to characterize the parasites infecting individual animals and extract DNA to conduct genetic analysis.

Their field work and genetic analysis are revealing fascinating insights into elephant population genetics and social behavior, as well as how human activities alter elephants' social and genetic structures.

Their research has found, for example, that female elephants form strong and lasting social ties with the members of their natal core group. Male elephants, by contrast, disperse from their core natal group at maturity and never join a new core group permanently.

Poaching interrupts the beneficial female social relationships and could lead to lower reproductive rates for females, further reducing the species. For male elephants, age is an important predictor of reproductive success. Poaching appears to reduce the age of first reproduction for males and lead to a reproductive skew, which may increase the rate at which genetic diversity is lost from natural elephant populations.

Archie and Chiyo have also investigated the "crop raiding" behavior of African elephants. Scientists have determined that crop raiding is a male elephant behavior and that not all males participate. The Notre Dame researchers found that up to 20 percent of males may be crop raiders and males are twice as likely to raid at their reproductive peak.

Males over 45 were twice as likely to raid, although some males in their twenties also participated in the raiding. The researchers discovered that younger males were more likely to raid if they were following older role models.

These and other research insights are demonstrating how genetic tolls can be used to understand and preserve social species.

Elizabeth Archie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nd.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Finding plastic litter from afar
19.11.2018 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New materials: Growing polymer pelts

19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize

19.11.2018 | Information Technology

Controlling organ growth with light

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>