NIAS Thesis Proposal Presentation: Seeing the Elephant: Socioecology and Physiology of the Female Asian Elephant Elephas maximus in an Anthropogenic Landscape by Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan at Lecture Hall
National Institute of Advanced Studies
Indian Institute of Science Campus
Thesis Proposal Presentation
Title: Seeing the Elephant: Socioecology and Physiology of the Female Asian Elephant Elephas maximus in an Anthropogenic Landscape
Date: Friday, 15 July 2016
Speaker: Mr. Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan
Time: 10:30 am
Venue: Lecture Hall, NIAS
Asian elephant habitats across the species range, but especially in India, are increasingly being subject to anthropogenic pressures in terms of fragmentation, degradation, habitat modification and conversion to human-modified landscapes. Drastic changes in the habitat can have strong influences on the ranging and foraging ecology of these populations, while coercing them to adapt behaviourally and physiologically to these novel ecologies. Elephant societies are matrilineal and female-centric, with individual elephants exhibiting complex social interactions and inter-individual communication through tactile, olfactory and vocal signals. Socioecological adaptations to anthropogenic landscapes are thus also expected to result in novel life-history strategies among individual elephants, especially adult females, as they struggle to survive and successfully breed in these habitats. Another important response to environmental change is behavioural and physiological stress, which, in spite of certain coping mechanisms, may have negative effects on individual elephants by suppressing their reproduction, altering feeding and movement patterns, as well as negatively affecting their immune responses.
Despite our millennia of association with elephants, however, the relationship between demography, behavioural strategies, stress and reproductive physiology has not yet been clearly elucidated in any elephant species, African or Asian. I, therefore, propose to investigate the demographic, socioecological and certain physiological responses displayed by adult female Asian elephants to changing environments in a human-modified landscape in the Anaimalai Hills of the Western Ghats, Southern India, characterised by a matrix of anthropogenic and relatively undisturbed habitat patches.
All are invited to attend