Elephant Behavior And Conservation : Social Relationships, The Effects Of Poaching, And Genetic Tools For Management

1570 Words Oct 13th, 2016 7 Pages
Archie, E. A. & Chiyo, P. I. (2012), Elephant behaviour and conservation: social relationships, the effects of poaching, and genetic tools for management. Molecular Ecology, 21: 765–778.

Researchers studied the effects of poaching in elephants social groups to determine the social, behavioral, and fitness consequences in elephant populations affected by poaching. They discovered that elephants form tights social bonds with their core groups, and while elephants are fission-fusion social animals, when male elephants are taken from the group due to poaching females are forced to find a new social group and form social bonds. This sometimes results in females have weaker social bonds, higher stress hormone levels, lower pairwise genetic relatedness, and lower reproductive output than they would in an intact social group. Researchers also found that poaching affects male breeding and inbreeding. The peak for reproduction in male elephants is around ages 45 to 53, and older males have reproductive dominance over the younger males. Male elephants do not stay in their core social groups in order to breed; they travel to reproduce which decreases the risk of inbreeding and lower genetic diversity. Poaching removes the older males from the reproduction pool, which gives the younger males with longer breeding time to become dominant, and lowers the competition to find a mate. This becomes a problem because due to their longer reproductive window there is a higher chance…

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