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Brand, R. 2007. Evolutionary ecology of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in Etosha National Park, Namibia. PhD Thesis, Newcastle University


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Evolutionary ecology of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in Etosha National Park, Namibia.

Summary / Notes:

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) occupies a variety of habitats across sub-Saharan Africa. It is characterised by a loose social organisation, and a dominancedriven polygynous mating system. This project sought to explain biogeographic andrninter-sexual variation in pelage colouration in the context of natural and sexual selection. I also sought to test the hypothesis that in a semi-arid environment, limited resources (food and water) would predictably concentrate females, increasing the potential for dominant males to monopolise matings. I analysed photos from across Africa, and reveal that where yearly bright sunshine is greater, female giraffe in particular tend to be lighter, resulting in sexual dichromatism in high insolarity locations. I hypothesised that dark pelage colour is maintained in males through sexual selection for a costly status signal. I analysed photos from across Africa, and reveal that where yearly bright sunshine is greater, female giraffe in particular tend to be lighter, resulting in sexualrndichromatism in high insolarity locations. I hypothesised that dark pelage colour is maintained in males through sexual selection for a costly status signal. Field work was carried out in Etosha NP, Namibia. Using photographic records, I identified 431 individual giraffe. I surveyed the study area regularly and collected data on group composition and behaviour upon locating giraffe. I carried out focal watches, and recorded all observations of agonistic and mating behaviour.

Year: 2007

Type: Thesis

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