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Social structure and demography of a remnant Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population and the implications for survival

Social structure and demography of a remnant Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population and the implications for survival
Social structure and demography of a remnant Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population and the implications for survival

The Asian elephant Elephas maximus is at risk of extinction as a result of anthropogenic pressures, and remaining populations are often small and fragmented remnants, occupying a fraction of the species' former range. Once widely distributed across China, only a maximum of 245 elephants are estimated to survive across seven small populations. We assessed the Asian elephant population in Nangunhe National Nature Reserve in Lincang Prefecture, China, using camera traps during May-July 2017, to estimate the population size and structure of this genetically important population. Although detection probability was low (0.31), we estimated a total population size of c. 20 individuals, and an effective density of 0.39 elephants per km 2. Social structure indicated a strong sex ratio bias towards females, with only one adult male detected within the population. Most of the elephants associated as one herd but three adult females remained separate from the herd throughout the trapping period. These results highlight the fragility of remnant elephant populations such as Nangunhe and we suggest options such as a managed metapopulation approach for their continued survival in China and more widely.

Elephas maximus, People's Republic of China, Yunnan Province, camera trapping, demographic survival, habitat fragmentation, population thresholds, protected areas
0030-6053
473-478
Hale, Lauren J
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Shi, Kun
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Gilbert, Tania C.
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Peh, Kelvin S-H
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Riordan, Philip
2ed63dfb-036d-47a1-9147-302cc97428af
Hale, Lauren J
0beb74a8-3d9f-4a1b-a634-3abc417ba8bd
Shi, Kun
0c8ac2a0-6203-43c8-9d96-d21b020b0bff
Gilbert, Tania C.
a30c848a-1185-4365-9ef3-9be57dd4f6b2
Peh, Kelvin S-H
0bd60207-dad8-43fb-a84a-a15e09b024cc
Riordan, Philip
2ed63dfb-036d-47a1-9147-302cc97428af

Hale, Lauren J, Shi, Kun, Gilbert, Tania C., Peh, Kelvin S-H and Riordan, Philip (2021) Social structure and demography of a remnant Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population and the implications for survival. Oryx, 55 (3), 473-478. (doi:10.1017/S0030605319000504).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Asian elephant Elephas maximus is at risk of extinction as a result of anthropogenic pressures, and remaining populations are often small and fragmented remnants, occupying a fraction of the species' former range. Once widely distributed across China, only a maximum of 245 elephants are estimated to survive across seven small populations. We assessed the Asian elephant population in Nangunhe National Nature Reserve in Lincang Prefecture, China, using camera traps during May-July 2017, to estimate the population size and structure of this genetically important population. Although detection probability was low (0.31), we estimated a total population size of c. 20 individuals, and an effective density of 0.39 elephants per km 2. Social structure indicated a strong sex ratio bias towards females, with only one adult male detected within the population. Most of the elephants associated as one herd but three adult females remained separate from the herd throughout the trapping period. These results highlight the fragility of remnant elephant populations such as Nangunhe and we suggest options such as a managed metapopulation approach for their continued survival in China and more widely.

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Hale et al - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 30 April 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 12 February 2020
Published date: 1 May 2021
Keywords: Elephas maximus, People's Republic of China, Yunnan Province, camera trapping, demographic survival, habitat fragmentation, population thresholds, protected areas

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430829
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430829
ISSN: 0030-6053
PURE UUID: 6c63b1bc-c705-47a8-9742-773dd28587d9
ORCID for Kelvin S-H Peh: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2921-1341

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 07:11

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Contributors

Author: Lauren J Hale
Author: Kun Shi
Author: Tania C. Gilbert
Author: Kelvin S-H Peh ORCID iD
Author: Philip Riordan

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