Decreasing reservoir water levels improve habitat quality for Asian elephants

Ranjeewa, Ashoka DG ORCID: 0000-0003-2022-6237, Pastorini, Jennifer, Isler, Karin, Weerakoon, Devaka K, Kottage, Helani D and Fernando, Prithiviraj (2018) Decreasing reservoir water levels improve habitat quality for Asian elephants. Mammalian Biology, 88. pp. 130-137. doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2017.10.002

13925 Ranjeewa, Pastorini, Isler, Weerakoon, Kottage, Fernando (2018) Decreasing reservoir water levels improve habitat quality for Asian elephants.pdf - Accepted Version
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Population health and habitat quality are intimately related and seasonal changes in habitat quality are likely to be reflected in the body condition of animals. We studied seasonal variation of body condition in free ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka based on visual scoring of individually identified elephants. We assessed the body condition of 218 adult females and 329 adult males from January 2008 to November 2012 and examined its relation to monthly rainfall and water level of the Udawalawe reservoir. Contrary to expectations, body condition of elephants was higher in the dry season, when primary productivity decreases due to lack of rainfall. However, the body condition showed both a seasonal and inter-annual negative co-relation with reservoir water level. A possible explanation for improved body condition in the dry season is the greater availability of fresh grass due to the emergence of reservoir bed grasslands with the drawdown of water. Our results underscore the importance of water management of large irrigation reservoirs in elephant conservation in Sri Lanka.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: Ashoka Deegoda Gamage publishes under the pseudonym 'Ashoka DG Ranjeewa'.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Ashoka Deegoda Gamage
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2024 10:49
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2024 10:51

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