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Ecology of the Asian Elephant in Southern India. I. Movement and Habitat Utilization Patterns

Sukumar, R (1989) Ecology of the Asian Elephant in Southern India. I. Movement and Habitat Utilization Patterns. In: Journal of Tropical Ecology, 5 (1). pp. 1-18.

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The movement and habitat utilization patterns were studied in an Asian elephant population during 1981-83 within a 1130 km2 area in southern India (110 30' N to 120 0' N and 760 50' E to 770 15' E). The study area encompasses a diversity of vegetation types from dry thorn forest (250-400 m) through deciduous forest (400-1400 m) to stunted evergreen shola forest and grassland (1400-1800 m). Home range sizes of some identified elephants were between 105 and 320 km2. Based on the dry season distribution, five different elephant clans, each consisting of between 50 and 200 individuals and having overlapping home ranges, could be defined within the study area. Seaso- nal habitat preferences were related to the availability of water and the palatability of food plants. During the dry months (January-April) elephants congregated at high densities of up to five individuals kM-2 in river valleys where browse plants had a much higher protein content than the coarse tall grasses on hill slopes. With the onset of rains of the first wet season (May- August) they dispersed over a wider area at lower densities, largely into the tall grass forests, to feed on the fresh grasses, which then had a high protein value. During the second wet season (September-December), when the tall grasses became fibrous, they moved into lower elevation short grass open forests. The normal movement pattern could be upset during years of adverse environmental con- ditions. However, the movement pattern of elephants in this region has not basically changed for over a century, as inferred from descriptions recorded during the nineteenth century.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Tropical Ecology
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Cambridge University Press.
Keywords: Asian elephant,elephant ecology,Elephas maximus,habitat utilization,home range,India.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2010 07:57
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 06:14
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/31540

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