Wild elephant (Loxodonta africana) breeding herds respond to artificially transmitted seismic stimuli

C. E. O'Connell-Rodwell, J. D. Wood, T. C. Rodwell, S. Puria, S. R. Partan, R. Keefe, D. Shriver, B. T. Arnason, Lynette A Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Seismic communication is known to be utilized in insects, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals, but its use has not yet been documented in large mammals. Elephants produce low-frequency vocalizations, and these vocalizations have seismic components that propagate in the ground, but it has not yet been demonstrated that elephants can detect or interpret these seismic signals. In this study, we played back seismic replicates of elephant alarm vocalizations to herds of wild African elephants in their natural environment and observed significant behavioral changes indicating that they had detected these signals. Seismic communication may provide an important complement to existing communication modes used by elephants. Seismic sensitivity may also provide elephants with an additional modality for sensing important environmental cues such as changes in weather patterns or seismic disturbances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-850
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Elephant seismic communication
  • Loxodonta africana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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