‘This is amazing!’ African elephants may transport seeds farther than any other land animal

12 April 2017

The African savanna elephant holds the prize for largest living terrestrial animal, and now it apparently just set another land record: the longest distance mover of seeds. The pachyderms can transport seeds up to 65 kilometers, according to a study of elephant dung in South Africa. That’s 30 times farther than savanna birds take seeds, and it indicates that elephants play a significant role in maintaining the genetic diversity of trees on the savanna.

“The scale of movement is really mind opening,” says Greg Adler, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh who was not involved in the study. “The implication is that elephants are absolutely critical to the integrity of these African savanna ecosystems.”

To view this news story by Erik Stokstad in full, visit www.sciencemag.org.

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