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|Demographic Variables for Wild Asian Elephants Using Longitudinal Observations
|de Silva, Shermin
Weerathunga, U S
Pushpakumara, T V
|de Silva S, Webber C, Weerathunga US, Pushpakumara TV, Weerakoon D & Wittemyer G (2013) Demographic Variables for Wild Asian Elephants Using Longitudinal Observations. PLoS ONE, 8 (12), Art. No.: e82788. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082788
|Detailed demographic data on wild Asian elephants have been difficult to collect due to habitat characteristics of much of the species’ remaining range. Such data, however, are critical for understanding and modeling population processes in this endangered species. We present data from six years of an ongoing study of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka. This relatively undisturbed population numbering over one thousand elephants is individually monitored, providing cohort-based information on mortality and reproduction. Reproduction was seasonal, such that most births occurred during the long inter-monsoon dry season and peaked in May. During the study, the average age at first reproduction was 13.4 years and the 50th percentile inter-birth interval was approximately 6 years. Birth sex ratios did not deviate significantly from parity. Fecundity was relatively stable throughout the observed reproductive life of an individual (ages 11–60), averaging between 0.13–0.17 female offspring per individual per year. Mortalities and injuries based on carcasses and disappearances showed that males were significantly more likely than females to be killed or injured through anthropogenic activity. Overall, however, most observed injuries did not appear to be fatal. This population exhibits higher fecundity and density relative to published estimates on other Asian elephant populations, possibly enhanced by present range constriction. Understanding the factors responsible for these demographic dynamics can shed insight on the future needs of this elephant population, with probable parallels to other populations in similar settings.
|© 2013 de Silva et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
|de Silva et al_Webber_2013 Demog variables for wild As eles using logitudinal obs_PLOS.pdf
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