Scientific Research Eloise de landevoisin campbell, class 5, Due: May 16th, Genus: Loxodonta

8 Characteristics of Life: Maintaining homeostasis, using energy, adapting to environment, reproducing (asexually or sexually), responding to stimuli, organized, made up of cells, and growing and developing


For my first characteristic of life, I chose reproduction. Reproduction means if an organism is alive it should reproduce either sexually or asexually. Reproduction creates offspring therefore keeping the species alive. Elephants hold the record for the longest duration of time from conception to when they offspring is born. This period is 22 months. Baby elephants can weigh up to 260 pounds at birth.
Spotlight on Scientist: Researcher, Dr. Janine Brown is a world authority in elephant reproductive physiology. She is a scientist and the Head of the Endocrine Research Laboratory at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. She has been researching to better understand the reproductive biology of endangered species, such as Asian and African elephants. For her latest study for BMC zoology, she monitored hormones and documented initiation of ovarian cyclicity in young females, therefore contributing to the normative reproductive database for this species. She came to the conclusion from this study that Asian elephants under human care, including under semi-captive conditions, may reach puberty earlier than elephants in the wild, maybe due to better nutrition and reaching a body weight capable of supporting reproductive activity at a younger age.

Adaption to Environment

For my second characteristic, I chose to write about
Spotlight on Scientist: Wildlife biologists with doctoral degrees in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology from Colorado, USA, Laura Brown and Rob Ramey did long-term research on the population dynamics, social organization and genetics of three sub-populations of desert-adapted elephants of Namibia. They were able to conclude that they will dig wells in dry sandy riverbeds to access water, even in places where water is readily available nearby. They don't just go to nearby wells because elephants prefer clean water that has not been contaminated by other animals’ feces, and the sand acts as a filter to remove bacteria. The elephants dig down in the sandy riverbeds to access this cleaner sand-filtered water.. Elephants are very smart animals.

Response to Stimuli

For my third characteristic, I chose to write about how elephants respond to stimuli. Elephant movements at the end of the dry season may be a response to their detection of distant thunderstorms. Elephants in overlapping ranges, but following separate tracks, exhibited statistically valid non-random near-simultaneous changes in movements when rainfall was occurring more than 100 km from their location.
Current Event Summary: According to National Geographic article "Elephants Are Social, Like Humans, and Should Be Treated That Way, Expert Urges", early this year, Scientists did a study that showed that social bonding and enrichment activities were more important than enclosure size to elephants in North American zoos. They found that social/family interaction and enrichment activities are more beneficial than larger enclosures for elephants in zoos. Elephants are very social animals. These scientists were able to conclude that captive elephant managers should always be looking for ways to improve captive conditions, and sometimes improving psychological conditions can be easier than enclosure size as many don’t have ability to increase their enclosures.

Growth and Development

For my fourth characteristic of life, I chose to write about the growth and development of elephants. The life cycle of a baby elephant is broken up into three divisions. These three divisions are based on experience and changes that occur in the different phases of the elephant's life. The adolescence age of the elephants are where the experience sexual maturity and he phenomenon of herds being broken up and formed
Current Event Summary: Scientist, Nadine Gravett put two female elephants to sleep and did a study on their sleep. By doing this study she was able to depict that elephants slept for just two hours a day on average—the lowest duration for any animal thus far recorded. This sleep study showed how low the sleep amount was for elephants. This amount of sleep is good for the growth and development for elephants. It can effect them completely once they grow into adults. (Yong, Ed. "Wild Elephants Sleep Just Two Hours a Night." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 01 Mar. 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.)

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