African forest elephant movements depend on time scale and individual behavior.


The critically endangered African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) plays a vital role in maintaining the structure and composition of Afrotropical forests, but basic information is lacking regarding the drivers of elephant movement and behavior at landscape scales. We use GPS location data from 96 individuals throughout Gabon to determine how five movement behaviors vary at different scales, how they are influenced by anthropogenic and environmental covariates, and to assess evidence for behavioral syndromes-elephants which share suites of similar movement traits. Elephants show some evidence of behavioral syndromes along an 'idler' to 'explorer' axis-individuals that move more have larger home ranges and engage in more 'exploratory' movements. However, within these groups, forest elephants express remarkable inter-individual variation in movement behaviours. This variation highlights that no two elephants are the same and creates challenges for practitioners aiming to design conservation initiatives.





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Publication Info

Beirne, Christopher, Thomas M Houslay, Peter Morkel, Connie J Clark, Mike Fay, Joseph Okouyi, Lee JT White, John R Poulsen, et al. (2021). African forest elephant movements depend on time scale and individual behavior. Scientific reports, 11(1). p. 12634. 10.1038/s41598-021-91627-z Retrieved from

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John Poulsen

Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology

John Poulsen is an ecologist with broad interests in the maintenance and regeneration of tropical forests and conservation of biodiversity. His research has focused on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, such as logging and hunting, on forest structure and diversity, abundance of tropical animals, and ecological processes. He has conducted most of his research in Central Africa, where he has also worked as a conservation manager, directing projects to sustainably manage natural resources in and around parks and reserves, and as the coordinator of government programs to develop low emissions strategies and quantify and monitor forest carbon.

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