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Plos One : Comparative Demography of an At-risk African Elephant Population, Volume 7

By Hayward, Matt

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Book Id: WPLBN0003935313
Format Type: PDF eBook :
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Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Plos One : Comparative Demography of an At-risk African Elephant Population, Volume 7  
Author: Hayward, Matt
Volume: Volume 7
Language: English
Subject: Journals, Science, Medical Science
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection (Contemporary)
Publication Date:
Publisher: Plos


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Hayward, M. (n.d.). Plos One : Comparative Demography of an At-risk African Elephant Population, Volume 7. Retrieved from

Description : Knowledge of population processes across various ecological and management settings offers important insights for species conservation and life history. In regard to its ecological role, charisma and threats from human impacts, African elephants are of high conservation concern and, as a result, are the focus of numerous studies across various contexts. Here, demographic data from an individually based study of 934 African elephants in Samburu, Kenya were summarized, providing detailed inspection of the population processes experienced by the population over a fourteen year period (including the repercussions of recent increases in illegal killing). These data were compared with those from populations inhabiting a spectrum of xeric to mesic ecosystems with variable human impacts. In relation to variability in climate and human impacts (causing up to 50% of recorded deaths among adults), annual mortality in Samburu fluctuated between 1 and 14% and, unrelatedly, natality between 2 and 14% driving annual population increases and decreases. Survivorship in Samburu was significantly lower than other populations with age-specific data even during periods of low illegal killing by humans, resulting in relatively low life expectancy of males (18.9 years) and females (21.8 years). Fecundity (primiparous age and inter-calf interval) were similar to those reported in other human impacted or recovering populations, and significantly greater than that of comparable stable populations. This suggests reproductive effort of African savanna elephants increases in relation to increased mortality (and resulting ecological ramifications) as predicted by life history theory. Further comparison across populations indicated that elongated inter-calf intervals and older ages of reproductive onset were related to age structure and density, and likely influenced by ecological conditions. This study provides detailed empirical data on elephant population dynamics strongly influenced by human impacts (laying the foundation for modeling approaches), supporting predictions of evolutionary theory regarding demographic responses to ecological processes.


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