Vocalizations of wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus): structural classification and social context.


Journal Article

Elephants use vocalizations for both long and short distance communication. Whereas the acoustic repertoire of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) has been extensively studied in its savannah habitat, very little is known about the structure and social context of the vocalizations of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), which is mostly found in forests. In this study, the vocal repertoire of wild Asian elephants in southern India was examined. The calls could be classified into four mutually exclusive categories, namely, trumpets, chirps, roars, and rumbles, based on quantitative analyses of their spectral and temporal features. One of the call types, the rumble, exhibited high structural diversity, particularly in the direction and extent of frequency modulation of calls. Juveniles produced three of the four call types, including trumpets, roars, and rumbles, in the context of play and distress. Adults produced trumpets and roars in the context of disturbance, aggression, and play. Chirps were typically produced in situations of confusion and alarm. Rumbles were used for contact calling within and among herds, by matriarchs to assemble the herd, in close-range social interactions, and during disturbance and aggression. Spectral and temporal features of the four call types were similar between Asian and African elephants.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Nair, S; Balakrishnan, R; Seelamantula, CS; Sukumar, R

Published Date

  • November 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 126 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 2768 - 2778

PubMed ID

  • 19894852

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19894852

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-8524

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0001-4966

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1121/1.3224717


  • eng