African and Asian Elephant Vocal Communication: A Cross-Species Comparison



Although living in substantially different habitats, African (Loxodonta sp.) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants are extremely social and intra-specific communication is therefore highly developed in these species. In particular, elephants are very vocal and acoustic signals play an integral part within the society of African and Asian elephants. In this chapter, we provide a cross-species comparison of the African savannah elephant (L. africana) and Asian elephant vocal communication systems, discussing the acoustic structure of various call types, examples of vocal imitation and sound production mechanisms. We aim to explore what the similarities and differences in the communication system of the two species could reveal about call functions, and the ecological conditions that have shaped these communication systems. In light of this, we suggest future comparative investigations of African and Asian elephants that may provide deeper insights into the evolutionary and cognitive bases of the complex signalling mechanisms.


Vocal Tract Call Type Asian Elephant African Elephant Vocal Learning 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.EFECTColombo 5Sri Lanka

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