Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

Lateralisation in male dominance in free ranging Asian elephants in Nagarahole-Bandipur National Park

Kevin Philip Sabu

Department of Zoology, CMS College (Autonomous), Kottayam, Kerala 686001

Dr. T.N.C. Vidya

Associate Professor, Evolutionory and Organismal Biology Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Jakkur, Bengaluru 560064, India


Hemispherical specialisation leads to side biases in animals. The right hemisphere of the brain is thought to be more important for social responses such as face perception and recognition . Thus, there is a tendency amongst vertebrates to position oneself such that conspecifics are in the left visual field .I therefore, examined lateralisation (side preference) in male dominance in a population of free-ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks and Tiger Reserves. As part of the Kabini Elephant Project that began in 2009, about a hundred adult males (over 15 years of age) had already been identified based on various natural physical characteristics and opportunistically monitored. Video recordings of these males engaged in different behaviours were also available. I have been scoring side preferences by analyzing previously recorded videos of dominance interactions between individually identified male elephants I looked at side preferences while turning (left or right) during each male dominance interaction. As these videos have already been scored for dominance behaviours, I knew whether the male elephant making the turn was dominant or subordinate. As they were identified and aged, I also knew the estimated age/age-class of the turning male. The details of the turns observed were then entered in an excel spreadsheet, along with details of the video name, video folder, end time of video, length of video, time in video, actual time, name and age of the turning male and the other male, direction of the turn (left or right), whether the turning male was dominant or subordinate during that behaviour and the overall dominance bout, and the orientation of the other male with respect to the turning male. Video analyses have done and data is analysed statistically.

Keywords: behaviour, dominance, interaction, lateralisation, side preference

Written, reviewed, revised, proofed and published with