Call repertoire of infant African elephants: First insights into the early vocal ontogeny

Angela Stöger-Horwath, Simon Stöger, Harald Schwammer, Helmut Kratochvil

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


African savannah elephants Loxodonta africana have a complex acoustic communication system,
but very little is known about their vocal ontogeny. A first approach in ontogenetic studies is to
define the call repertoire of specific age groups. Twelve hundred calls of 11 infant elephants from
neonatal to 18 months of age recorded at the Vienna Zoo in Austria and at the Daphne Sheldrick’s
orphanage at the Nairobi National Park, Kenya were analyzed. Six call types were structurally
distinguished: the rumble, the bark, the grunt, the roar subdivided into a noisy-, tonal-, and
mixed-roar, the snort, and the trumpet. Generally, within-call-type variation was high in all
individuals. In contrast to adult elephants, the infants showed no gender-dependent variation in the
structure or in the number of call types produced. Male infants, however, were more vocally
adamant in their suckle behavior than females. These results give a first insight to the early vocal
ontogeny and should promote further ontogenetic studies on elephants. Due to their vocal learning
ability in combination with the complex fission-fusion society, elephants could be an interesting
model to study the role of imitation in the vocal ontogeny of a nonprimate terrestrial mammal.
Seiten (von - bis)3922-3931
FachzeitschriftJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2007

ÖFOS 2012

  • 106022 Mikrobiologie
  • 106054 Zoologie