Why Study Elephants

Why Study Elephants

In this lab, we are going to explore elephants, their current status, and discuss why it is so important to survey them. This ties in to the scientific method:

· Ask A Question

· Do Background Research

· Construct A Hypothesis

· Test with an Experiment

· Analyze Data and Draw Conclusions

· Communicate Results


Specific Lab Instructions






Read the “Why Study Elephants” page and answer the following questions:


1. What is the question that scientists are trying to address with this study?




2. What is a potential hypothesis for an experiment involving these elephants?


3. Elephants are considered to be a keystone species. What does that mean?



4. Name three elephant activities or functions that justify the term “keystone species” and describe how the activity changes African ecosystems.

Elephant Activity Change in Ecosystem

5. Why have elephant populations been declining for the past several decades?




Click on the Species Range


6. Click on the Forest Elephant Range, then the Savanna Elephant Range. Which is larger?

☐Forest Elephant Range

☐Savanna Elephant Range


7. Review the Methods, Advantages and Disadvantages of the Species Range data collection; add your thoughts in the table on the last page of this packet.


Click on Individual Range.


8. Take the time to watch the video! In general, why to elephants move across the land?



9. Why do we only have to collar one mature female to get a lot of data of movement of a group and not all individuals?



10. Review the Methods, Advantages and Disadvantages of the Individual Range; add your thoughts in the table on the last page of this packet.


Review the methods in the How Many section.



11. Discuss the methods, sample type, advantages and disadvantages of each in the table at the end of this packet.


Click on the Population Change. Review the video, and read the introductory material.



12. Turn on both the 1979 and 2007 range for the elephants on the map. How did the range change? Did it increase, decrease or stay the same?


13. Turn off the 1979 and 2007 range layers, and turn on the 2016 trends layer. What types of changes do you notice? Are there specific areas where the population is decreasing or increasing? Why do you think this is?





Adapted from: Click and Learn “Survey Methods.” (2016). HHMI Biointeractive Teaching Materials.



SCIN130 Lab 1: Scientific Method


V1 01.2018 Felicetti

Page of 7


  Information Gathered Methods Used Type of Count (Total or Sample/Direct or Indirect) Advantages Disadvantages
Species Range     N/A    
Individual Range     N/A    
Aerial Survey          
Individual Registration          
Acoustic Surveys          
Dung Transects          

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