Chronic stress in elephants can affect long-term behavior

Stress is known to lead to short-term escape behavior, and new research on elephants in South Africa shows that it can also cause long-term escape behavior, affecting the extent that elephants use their habitat. The work is published Feb. 22 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by David Jachowski of the University of Missouri, measured levels of FGM (fecal glucocorticoid metabolite), a proxy of , and land use patterns for three different elephant populations, and found that higher FGM was associated with 20-43% lower land usage. These results suggest that chronic high stress leads to "refuge behavior," with the animals altering their space use and preferences in response to stress.

" and refuge behavior by elephants could be linked to multiple elephant management problems, ranging from habitat destruction to aggression towards and killing of humans", says Dr. Jachowski.

Wildlife translocation or reintroduction projects should consider these effects in their planning, the authors write.


Explore further

Elephant numbers halved

More information: Jachowski DS, Slotow R, Millspaugh JJ (2012) Physiological Stress and Refuge Behavior by African Elephants. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31818. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031818
Journal information: PLoS ONE

Citation: Chronic stress in elephants can affect long-term behavior (2012, February 22) retrieved 2 April 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2012-02-chronic-stress-elephants-affect-long-term.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments