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Ivory poaching, sociality, and the role of behavior in conservation

dc.contributor.authorGoldenberg, Shifra Z., author
dc.contributor.authorWittemyer, George, advisor
dc.contributor.authorArchie, Elizabeth, committee member
dc.contributor.authorCrooks, Kevin, committee member
dc.contributor.authorNaug, Dhruba, committee member
dc.description.abstractThe potential of animal behavior to contribute to conservation biology has been acknowledged for decades, but empirical work to realize this potential has been surprisingly slow (Sutherland 1998; Caro 2007; Angeloni et al. 2008; Berger-Tal et al. 2015). Behavior that reliably conveys the response of populations to human threats may be particularly useful in assessing population status and recovery potential as it can be measured over relatively short time periods. African elephants (Loxodonta africana) rely heavily on behavioral decisions and are highly dependent on complex social processes that revolve around older animals (Douglas-Hamilton 1972; Moss 1988; Wittemyer et al. 2005b). Within the last decade poaching of elephants for their ivory has increased to meet rising demand on international markets (Maisels et al. 2013; Wittemyer et al. 2014), which has disproportionately been targeted toward older elephants for their larger tusks (Wittemyer et al. 2013; Chiyo et al. 2015). In this dissertation I analyze behavior in the context of a well-studied population of African elephants in northern Kenya under illegal killing pressure, with emphasis on social behavior. I describe baseline levels of sociality among adult male elephants prior to the intensification of poaching, compare hierarchical social network structure of female elephants before and during poaching, investigate fine-scale social strategies among young females following family mortalities, assess the utility of a flight metric as a behavioral indicator of harvest pressure, and examine the overlap in area use of two adjacent subpopulations. This work contributes to the growing literature on conservation behavioral methods and advances understanding of sociality in this threatened species.
dc.format.mediumborn digital
dc.format.mediumdoctoral dissertations
dc.publisherColorado State University. Libraries
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dc.titleIvory poaching, sociality, and the role of behavior in conservation
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