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African Bush Elephant
African savannah elephant
African savannah elephant
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- Data packageData from: Fine-scale tracking of ambient temperature and movement reveals shuttling behavior of elephants to water(2019-09-24) Slotow, Rob; Thaker, Maria; Vanak, Abi TamimMovement strategies of animals have been well studied as a function of ecological drivers (e.g., forage selection and avoiding predation) rather than physiological requirements (e.g., thermoregulation). Thermal stress is a major concern for large mammals, especially for savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), which have amongst the greatest challenge for heat dissipation in hot and arid environments. Therefore, elephants must make decisions about where and how fast to move to reduce thermal stress. We tracked 14 herds of elephant in Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, for 2 years, using GPS collars with inbuilt temperature sensors to examine the influence of temperature on movement strategies, particularly when accessing water. We first confirmed that collar-mounted temperature loggers captured hourly variation in relative ambient temperatures across the landscape, and, thus, could be used to predict elephant movement strategies at fine spatio-temporal scales. We found that elephants moved slower in more densely wooded areas, but, unexpectedly, moved faster at higher temperatures, especially in the wet season compared to the dry season. Notably, this speed of movement was highest when elephants were approaching and leaving water sources. Visits to water showed a periodic shuttling pattern, with a peak return rate of 10–30 h, wherein elephants were closest to water during the hotter times of the day, and spent longer at water sources in the dry season compared to the wet season. When elephants left water, they showed low fidelity to the same water source, and traveled farther in the dry season than in the wet season. In KNP, where water is easily accessible, and the risk of poaching is low, we found that elephants use short, high-speed bursts of movement to get to water at hotter times of day. This strategy not only provides the benefit of predation risk avoidance, but also allows them to use water to thermoregulate. We demonstrate that ambient temperature is an important predictor of movement and water use across the landscape, with elephants responding facultatively to a “landscape of thermal stress.”
- Data packageData from: Suite of simple metrics reveals common movement syndromes across vertebrate taxa(2017-06-01) Abrahms, BrianaBackground: Because empirical studies of animal movement are most-often site- and species-specific, we lack understanding of the level of consistency in movement patterns across diverse taxa, as well as a framework for quantitatively classifying movement patterns. We aim to address this gap by determining the extent to which statistical signatures of animal movement patterns recur across ecological systems. We assessed a suite of movement metrics derived from GPS trajectories of thirteen marine and terrestrial vertebrate species spanning three taxonomic classes, orders of magnitude in body size, and modes of movement (swimming, flying, walking). Using these metrics, we performed a principal components analysis and cluster analysis to determine if individuals organized into statistically distinct clusters. Finally, to identify and interpret commonalities within clusters, we compared them to computer-simulated idealized movement syndromes representing suites of correlated movement traits observed across taxa (migration, nomadism, territoriality, and central place foraging). Results: Two principal components explained 70% of the variance among the movement metrics we evaluated across the thirteen species, and were used for the cluster analysis. The resulting analysis revealed four statistically distinct clusters. All simulated individuals of each idealized movement syndrome organized into separate clusters, suggesting that the four clusters are explained by common movement syndrome. Conclusions: Our results offer early indication of widespread recurrent patterns in movement ecology that have consistent statistical signatures, regardless of taxon, body size, mode of movement, or environment. We further show that a simple set of metrics can be used to classify broad-scale movement patterns in disparate vertebrate taxa. Our comparative approach provides a general framework for quantifying and classifying animal movements, and facilitates new inquiries into relationships between movement syndromes and other ecological processes.
- Data packageData from: Elliptical Time-Density model to estimate wildlife utilization distributions(2014-08-01) Wall, Jake; Wittemyer, George; LeMay, Valerie; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Klinkenberg, BrianWe present a new animal space-use model (Elliptical Time-Density - ETD) that uses discrete-time tracking data collected in wildlife movement studies. The ETD model provides a trajectory-based, non-parametric approach to estimate the utilization distribution (UD) of an animal, using model parameters derived directly from the movement behavior of the species. The model builds on the theory of ‘time-geography’ whereby elliptical constraining regions are established between temporally-adjacent recorded locations. Using a Weibull speed distribution fitted for an animal's movement data, a time-density value (i.e., time per unit landscape) is determined from the expectation of all elliptical regions equal to, or greater-than, the minimum bounding ellipse for a given landscape point. We tested the ETD model using a tracking dataset for an African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and compared the resulting UDs for regularly sampled, frequently recorded locations, as well as irregular random time intervals between locations and also infrequent temporal-sampling regimes, providing insight to the method's performance with different resolution data. We compared the performance of the ETD model, the Brownian Bridge Movement Model (BBMM), the Time-Geography Density Estimator (TGDE) and the Kernel Density Estimator (KDE) by calculating omission/commission errors from the predicted space-use distribution of each model relative to the true known UD of our elephant test data. The comparison was made for the 10% to 99% percentile UD model areas. The ETD90 model (i.e., ETD model parameterized using the 90% percentile value of the Weibull speed distribution) resulted in the fewest errors of commission and omission with regards to locating the true movement path at the 99% percentile UD area. The ETD model provides an improved approach for estimating animal UDs since: i) parameters are derived directly from the tracking data rather than assumed; ii) parameter values are biologically interpretable; iii) the Weibull speed distribution is adaptable to various temporal-sampling regimes; and iv) the ETD model handles the case of degenerate ellipses thus preserving landscape connectivity in the UD. Software (freeware) for calculating the ETD and a Bayesian framework for estimating the Weibull distribution speed parameters are also introduced in the paper.
- Data packageData from: Temporal variation in resource selection of African elephants follows long term variability in resource availability(2018-12-21) Getz, Wayne M.; Kilian, Werner; Zidon, Royi; Tsalyuk, MiriamThe relationship between resource availability and wildlife movement patterns is pivotal to understanding species behavior and ecology. Movement response to landscape variables occurs at multiple temporal scales, from sub-diurnal to multiannual. Additionally, individuals may respond to both current and past conditions of resource availability. In this paper, we examine the temporal scale and variation of current and past resource variables that affect movement patterns of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) using sub-hourly movement data from GPS-GSM collared elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia. We created detailed satellite-based spatiotemporal maps of vegetation biomass, as well as distance from surface water, road and fence. We used step selection functions to measure the relative importance of these landscape variables in determining elephants’ local movement patterns. We also examined how elephants respond to information, in locations they have previously visited, on productivity integrated over different temporal scales: from current to historical conditions. Our results demonstrate that elephants choose patches with higher-than average annual productivity and grass biomass, but lower tree biomass. Elephants also prefer to walk close to water, roads, and fences. These preferences vary with time of day and with season, thereby providing insights into diurnal and seasonal behavioral patterns and the ecological importance of the landscape variables examined. We also discovered that elephants respond more strongly to long-term patterns of productivity than to immediate forage conditions, in familiar locations. Our results illustrate how animals with high cognitive capacity and spatial memory integrate long-term information on landscape conditions. We illuminate the importance of long-term high temporal resolution satellite imagery to understanding the relationship between movement patterns and landscape structure.