Term of Award

Fall 2004

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Bruce A. Schulte

Committee Member 1

James B. Claiborne

Committee Member 2

Ann E. Pratt

Abstract

African elephants are a polygynous species that raise offspring in a matriarchal society. Males disperse, spend time in male groups, and search for mates when mature. Urinary chemical signals play an important role in detecting reproductively active females. African male elephants develop movement, social and chemosensory behaviors over four major life changes. The first goal of this study was to compare behavior among four classes of wild African male elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. The second goal was to determine if adult captive African male elephants distinguish between urine from conspecific females in receptive and non-receptive estrous stages. Behaviorally, younger male elephants were more investigative, while older males exhibited more physical social interactions. The development of chemosensory behavior appeared to parallel general behavioral patterns in this polygynous species. Captive male elephants discerned between the two urine types, bolstering the pursuit to identify the estrous pheromone in African elephants.

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