discussion / Biologging  / 30 October 2017

Tracking poop... (and therefore seed dispersal)

Hi all,

I am working in a group looking to understand the role of forest elephants in structuring tropical forest communities. A part of this project would be determining how far elephants disperse seeds.

Now we can model this, but it is a punt in the dark without finding out seed passage times (how long a seed takes to get through an elephants digestive system). I am trying to think of ways of measuring this without harming the elephants (e.g. using a temperature data logger), and in such a way theat we can recover any devices we do use (elephants can go a long way in 24-48 hours).

If anyone one has any ideas, or has worked on a similar project, let me know!





Hi Chris, 

Interesting challenge! Over on twitter, Ian Redmond has a suggestion: 

What makes #elephants such important #GardenersoftheForest is that the #seeds pass through the gut undigested, ready for #germination miles from parent plant. How about acid-proof radio-transmitters in crush-proof pseudo-seeds that you insert into ripe fruit where eles forage? https://t.co/Q5skY90Jne

— Ian Redmond (@4Apes) November 30, 2017

What to you think? I'd be interested to hear from any of our engineers, would this sort of approach be feasible?