Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teen elephant mothers die younger but have bigger families

Date:
March 7, 2014
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
Asian elephants that give birth as teenagers die younger than older mothers but raise bigger families during their lifetime, according to new research.

Asian elephant baby standing under her mother in water. Asian elephants that give birth as teenagers die younger than older mothers but raise bigger families during their lifetime.
Credit: honzahruby / Fotolia

Asian elephants that give birth as teenagers die younger than older mothers but raise bigger families during their lifetime, according to new research from the University of Sheffield.

Experts from the University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences studied the reproductive lives of 416 Asian elephant mothers in Myanmar, Burma, and found those that had calves before the age of 19 were almost two times more likely to die before the age of 50 than those that had their first offspring later.

However, elephants that entered motherhood at an earlier age had more calves following their teenage years than those that started reproducing after the age of 19.

The team's findings will help maximise fertility in captive and semi-captive elephants, reducing the strain on the endangered wild population.

Research found that Asian elephants, which can live into their 70s, could give birth from the age of five.

Yet surprisingly, for a species that live as long as humans do, their fertility peaked on average at the age of 19 before declining.

The team also found elephants that gave birth twice in their teenage years had calves three times more likely to survive to independence than those born to mothers who had their first young after the age of 19.

Therefore, although having calves as a teenager reduced a mother's lifespan, early reproduction was favoured by natural selection because those mothers raised the largest families in their lifetime.

Dr Adam Hayward, of the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: "Understanding how maternal performance changes with age and impacts on later-life survival and fertility is important. Asian elephants are endangered in the wild and low fertility in captivity necessitates acquisition of elephants from the wild every year to maintain captive populations.

"Our research was carried out on semi-captive Asian elephants working in timber camps in Myanmar.

"As religious icons in South-east Asia and a key species of the forest ecosystem, their decline is of serious cultural and ecological concern.

"Our results will enable the management of captive and semi-captive elephants to be tailored to maximise fertility, reducing strain on the wild population."

Virpi Lummaa, Reader of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield, added: "We rarely get the opportunity to study how other species with a lifespan similar to humans grow old.

"This study represents a unique analysis of the ageing process in a similarly long-lived mammal.

"It also supports the evolutionary theory that selection for high fertility in early life is energetically demanding, which accelerates declines in survival rates with age which are typical of most animals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Teen elephant mothers die younger but have bigger families." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307084050.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2014, March 7). Teen elephant mothers die younger but have bigger families. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307084050.htm
University of Sheffield. "Teen elephant mothers die younger but have bigger families." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307084050.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins