ThermochronTracking Elephants Kruger 2007

Slotow R, Thaker M, Vanak AT. 2019. ThermochronTracking Elephants Kruger 2007. Movebank Data Repository.
Movement 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."
African bush elephant,African savanna elephant,animal movement,animal tracking,bio-logging,GPS logger,Loxodonta africana,temperature
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DOIs of related Publications
  title = {ThermochronTracking Elephants Kruger 2007},
  author = {Slotow, R and Thaker, M and Vanak, AT},
  year = {2019},
  URL = {},
  doi = {doi:10.5441/001/1.403h24q5/1},
  publisher = {Movebank data repository}
ID  - doi:10.5441/001/1.403h24q5/1
T1  - ThermochronTracking Elephants Kruger 2007
AU  - Slotow, Rob
AU  - Thaker, Maria
AU  - Vanak, Abi Tamim
Y1  - 2019/09/24
KW  - African bush elephant
KW  - African savanna elephant
KW  - animal movement
KW  - animal tracking
KW  - bio-logging
KW  - GPS logger
KW  - Loxodonta africana
KW  - temperature
KW  - Loxodonta africana
PB  - Movebank data repository
UR  -
DO  - doi:10.5441/001/1.403h24q5/1
ER  -