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Elephants benefit from having older siblings, especially sisters

Asian elephant brothers. Credit: Virpi Lummaa

A study of semi-captive Asian elephants in Myanmar shows that calves benefit from having an older sister rather than an older brother.The results of the survey are from the British Ecological Society. Animal Ecology Journal..


Researchers at universities in Finland, the United Kingdom and Myanmar have discovered that Asian elephant brothers affect younger offspring from an early age to later life. Raised with older siblings, the number of calves increased significantly. Long-term survival My sister has more influence than my brother when compared to having no siblings.

For women elephantThose raised with an older sister had a higher long-term survival rate than those raised with an older brother, and bred for the first time on average two years ago. Breeding at an earlier age is generally associated with more offspring throughout the life of the elephant.

In male elephants, elephants raised with their sister had a lower survival rate but gained more weight than their older brother.This looks like Harmful effects It may be explained by a “lively, young and dying” strategy. body weight It can lead to survival costs in later years.

Dr. Vérane Berger of the University of Turku and the lead author of this study said: Personal potential. “

Elephants benefit from having older siblings, especially sisters

Asian elephant brothers. Credit: Virpi Lummaa

The long-term effects of sibling effects have not been well studied in long-lived animals. One reason for this is that the logistical challenges of field research make it difficult to investigate the life-long effects of animals.

In this study, researchers were able to overcome this barrier by investigating the population of Myanmar’s government-owned semi-captive timber elephants. Extensive life history records are held for this elephant.

These elephants are used during the day for horseback riding, transportation and drafting. At night, elephants live in the forest without supervision and can interact and mate with both wild and domesticated elephants. Calves are raised by their mothers up to the age of five, who are trained in work. The Myanmar Lumber Company (MTE) imposes restrictions on the daily and annual workload of elephants.

Dr. Mirkka Lahdenperä of the University of Turku and the co-author of the study said: Natural habitatThere are many similarities to wild elephants, such as the lack of natural foraging and breeding support.There are differences, but in reality Family group Probably bigger — there are more similarities than differences, and we can speculate that some of the associations found in our study also apply to wild elephants. But of course, these should be studied. “

Researchers used a large multigenerational dataset of semi-captive Asian elephants to examine the effects of older siblings and gender on the weight, reproduction, sex, and survival of the next calf. rice field. Records included accurate breeding and longevity information for 2,344 calves born between 1945 and 2018.

Elephants benefit from having older siblings, especially sisters

Asian elephant brothers. Credit: Virpi Lummaa

Due to the correlation, this study cannot rule out the effects of external factors other than siblings, such as the quality of care of the mother and the workload and management of the elephants.

In the next step of this research project, Dr. Berger said: “We hope to unravel the maternal effect from the sibling effect by collecting more information about the mother’s weight at birth.

“With more data, we can also investigate the impact on the environment. Brother Build relationships and elaborate on the effects of siblings on certain aspects of young calf health, including immunity, muscle function, and hormonal changes.

“We were also able to investigate the impact of the sex and presence of young calves on the life history of older calves.”


The survival rate of domesticated Asian elephants is three times that of the 1970s, and certain calves are at even greater risk.


For more information:
Vérane Bergeretal, Family Elephant: The Costs and Benefits of Older Siblings in the Life History Trajectory of Young Descendants of Maternal Mammals, Animal Ecology Journal (2021). DOI: 10.1111 / 1365-2656.13573

Quote: Elephants are older brothers, especially sisters (2021), acquired from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-elephants-benefit-older-siblings-sisters.html on September 21, 2021. You will benefit from having (September 21st).

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Elephants benefit from having older siblings, especially sisters

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