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African forest elephant movements depend on time scale and individual behavior

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Beirne, Christopher 
Houslay, Thomas M. 
Morkel, Peter 
Clark, Connie J. 
Fay, Mike 


Abstract: 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.


Funder: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; doi:


Article, /631/158, /631/158/2039, /631/158/856, /631/158/672, /631/158/2450, /631/601/18, article

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Scientific Reports

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Nature Publishing Group UK