Interactive Case Study for Studying Elephant Communication
This video case study explores whether elephants can detect, interpret, and respond to signals delivered by underground vibrations.
Biologist Caitlin O’Connell had noticed that elephants would often freeze in their tracks and place their trunks on the ground, as though they were sensing some kind of signal underground. Working in Etosha National Park, Namibia, she designed an experiment to determine whether elephants would be able to detect and respond to an alarm call delivered as underground vibrations.
This video incorporates embedded questions at automatic pause points, where students are asked to make predictions, construct explanations, and analyze data. After answering all the questions, students can view their answers in a “Report” that can be printed. They can also add further explanation to each answer in the Report if their thinking has changed. The video can also be shown without embedded questions using "Presentation Mode."
Student Learning Targets
- Describe different methods used by animals to communicate with other members of a group and to interpret their environment.
- Design an experiment to test a hypothesis.
- Predict the results of an experiment, based on a hypothesis.
- Interpret the results of an experiment and draw conclusions based on those results.
acoustic signal, bar graph, experiment, hearing, scientific methodology, seismic signal, sound frequency, vibration
O'Connell-Rodwell, C. E., J. D. Wood, T. C. Rodwell, S. Puria, S. R. Partan, R. Keefe, D. Shriver, et al. “Wild elephant (Loxodonta africana) breeding herds respond to artificially transmitted seismic stimuli.” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 59, 6 (2006): 842–850. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-005-0136-2.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-8, HS-PS4-1; SEP3, SEP4
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-3.D, IST-5.A; SP3, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Learning Objectives & Practices: STB-2.J, SP1, SP4, SP5, SP6
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)
CC5; DP1, DP4