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Sounds - more

African elephants, Loxodonta africana, are well known for their use of a
low-frequency 'rumble'
vocalization, which is thought to function in long-distance
communication. Less work, however, has
been conducted on short-distance communication within groups, and on
spontaneously occurring vocal
exchanges among identified individuals in particular. This is due in
part to the fact that low-frequency
rumbles are difficult to assign to individual callers.We collected vocal
data on a group of six female African
elephants housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom to determine whether they
exchange rumbles in
alternating sequences (also known as antiphonal calling). Subjects wore
collars outfitted with microphones
and radiotransmitters that allowed identification of individual callers,
and behavioural and endocrine data
were collected so that vocal activity could be examined in the context
of social behaviour and reproductive
state. First, we found that females did not produce rumbles at random,
but were nearly twice as likely to
produce rumbles shortly after rumbles from other group members. Second,
the relative dominance rank
and reproductive state of callers did not affect the probability of
vocal response, but affiliative relationship
with the caller had a strong influence on rumble response. Females were
most likely to respond in kind to
the rumbles of their most affiliated partners compared to less
affiliated group members. Third, video
analysis showed that rumble exchanges occurred in variable contexts,
including when animals were out of
contact, during reunions, and while in close proximity. Also, affiliated
partners often vocalized in sequence
when approached by dominant individuals. The results of these analyses
show that affiliated female
African elephants exchange rumbles antiphonally, and imply multiple
functions for such vocal exchanges. 

JOSEPH SOLTIS, KIRSTEN LEONG & ANNE SAVAGE 2005 African elephant vocal
communication I: antiphonal
calling behaviour among affiliated females. ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 2005, 70,

Kenneth Carpenter, Ph.D.
Curator of Lower Vertebrate Paleontology/
Chief Preparator
Department of Earth Sciences
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205
Phone: 303-370-6392
Fax: 303-331-6492
for PDFs of some of my publications, as well as information of the Cedar
Mountain Project: