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Animals 2013, 3(2), 349-355; doi:10.3390/ani3020349

On the Possible Detection of Lightning Storms by Elephants

1
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 February 2013 / Revised: 15 April 2013 / Accepted: 15 April 2013 / Published: 18 April 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Anomalies Prior to Earthquakes)
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Simple Summary: We use data similar to that taken by the International Monitoring System for the detection of nuclear explosions, to determine whether elephants might be capable of detecting and locating the source of sounds generated by thunderstorms. Knowledge that elephants might be capable of responding to such storms, particularly at the end of the dry season when migrations are initiated, is of considerable interest to management and conservation.

Abstract

Theoretical calculations suggest that sounds produced by thunderstorms and detected by a system similar to the International Monitoring System (IMS) for the detection of nuclear explosions at distances ≥100 km, are at sound pressure levels equal to or greater than 6 × 10−3 Pa. Such sound pressure levels are well within the range of elephant hearing. Frequencies carrying these sounds might allow for interaural time delays such that adult elephants could not only hear but could also locate the source of these sounds. Determining whether it is possible for elephants to hear and locate thunderstorms contributes to the question of whether elephant movements are triggered or influenced by these abiotic sounds.
Keywords: elephant communication; elephant detection of abiotic sounds; sounds from thunderstorms; elephant movement; elephant migration elephant communication; elephant detection of abiotic sounds; sounds from thunderstorms; elephant movement; elephant migration
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Kelley, M.C.; Garstang, M. On the Possible Detection of Lightning Storms by Elephants. Animals 2013, 3, 349-355.

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