METHODOLOGICAL INSIGHTS: Using seismic sensors to detect elephants and other large mammals: a potential census technique
Article first published online: 9 JUN 2005
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 42, Issue 3, pages 587–594, June 2005
How to Cite
WOOD, J. D., O'CONNELL-RODWELL, C. E. and KLEMPERER, S. L. (2005), METHODOLOGICAL INSIGHTS: Using seismic sensors to detect elephants and other large mammals: a potential census technique. Journal of Applied Ecology, 42: 587–594. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01044.x
- Issue published online: 9 JUN 2005
- Article first published online: 9 JUN 2005
- Received 14 June 2004; final copy received 16 February 2005 Editor: Steve Rushton
- Loxodonta africana;
- Loxodonta cyclotis
- 1Large mammal populations are difficult to census and monitor in remote areas. In particular, elephant populations in Central Africa are difficult to census due to dense forest, making aerial surveys impractical. Conservation management would be improved by a census technique that was accurate and precise, did not require large efforts in the field, and could record numbers of animals over a period of time.
- 2We report a new detection technique that relies on sensing the footfalls of large mammals. A single geophone was used to record the footfalls of elephants and other large mammal species at a waterhole in Etosha National Park, Namibia.
- 3Temporal patterning of footfalls is evident for some species, but this pattern is lost when there is more than one individual present.
- 4We were able to discriminate between species using the spectral content of their footfalls with an 82% accuracy rate.
- 5An estimate of the energy created by passing elephants (the area under the amplitude envelope) can be used to estimate the number of elephants passing the geophone. Our best regression line explained 55% of the variance in the data. This could be improved upon by using an array of geophones.
- 6Synthesis and applications. This technique, when calibrated to specific sites, could be used to census elephants and other large terrestrial species that are difficult to count. It could also be used to monitor the temporal use of restricted resources, such as remote waterholes, by large terrestrial species.