African elephants use plant odours to make foraging decisions across multiple spatial scales

Show simple item record Schmitt, Melissa H. Shuttleworth, Adam Ward, David Shrader, A.M. (Adrian) 2018-06-21T12:21:30Z 2018-07
dc.description.abstract Mammalian herbivores are known to be extremely selective when foraging, but little is known about the mechanisms governing the selection of patches and, at a finer scale, individual plants. Visual examination and direct sampling of the vegetation have previously been suggested, but olfactory cues have seldom been considered. We examined the use of olfactory cues by foraging African elephants, Loxodonta africana, and asked whether they use plant odours to select specific patches or plants when making feeding decisions. Scent-based choice experiments between various preferred and nonpreferred plants were conducted across two spatial scales (between plants and between patches). We used coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analysis of headspace extracts of volatile organic compounds emitted by the different plant species to explore similarities among the overall odour profiles of each species. We found that elephants selected their preferred plant species across both spatial scales, probably using differences in plant odour profiles. The ability to differentiate between plant odours allowed elephants to reduce their search time by targeting preferred plant species both within a feeding station and between patches. This suggests that olfactory cues probably play an important role in driving herbivore foraging decisions across multiple spatial scales. en_ZA
dc.description.department Mammal Research Institute en_ZA
dc.description.department Zoology and Entomology en_ZA
dc.description.embargo 2019-07-01
dc.description.librarian hj2018 en_ZA
dc.description.sponsorship The National Research Foundation of South Africa (grant numbers: 90448, 90691, 97262, & 77582) and the Gay Langmuir Bursary from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Life Sciences. en_ZA
dc.description.uri en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Schmitt, M.H., Shuttleworth, A., Ward, D. & Shrader, A.M. 2018, 'African elephants use plant odours to make foraging decisions across multiple spatial scales', Animal Behaviour, vol. 141, pp. 17-27. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 0003-3472 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1095-8282 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.04.016
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Elsevier en_ZA
dc.rights © 2018 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Notice : this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Animal Behaviour. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. A definitive version was subsequently published in Animal Behaviour, vol. 141, pp. 17-27, 2018, doi : 10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.04.016. en_ZA
dc.subject Diet selection en_ZA
dc.subject Foraging en_ZA
dc.subject Herbivory en_ZA
dc.subject Olfaction en_ZA
dc.subject Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) en_ZA
dc.subject Y-maze en_ZA
dc.subject Elephantidae en_ZA
dc.subject Mammalia en_ZA
dc.subject African elephant (Loxodonta africana) en_ZA
dc.title African elephants use plant odours to make foraging decisions across multiple spatial scales en_ZA
dc.type Postprint Article en_ZA

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