Elephant pushing over tree

Title Info
Common name Elephant, African
Scientific name Loxodonta africana
Taxonomic group Elephantidae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecosystems Grasslands, savannas
Grasslands and savannas Tropical savanna
Ecological interactions Herbivory; Ecosystem engineering
Selection and adaptations Selection
Selection Morphology
Change over time Disturbance
Disturbance Other
Organisms Animals
Animals Mammals
Date August 08, 2003
Location Serengeti National Park,Tanzania,Africa

Elephant pushing over tree, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Elephants are capable of great delicacy, when they use their marvelously adapted trunks to perform tasks such as picking berries or rubbing an eye. On the other hand, these massive, powerful organisms can push over entire trees if they want to, as this adult female is doing. Less than a minute earlier, she was peacefully feeding on the tree; then she pushed the tree over so that a youngster in her family group could feed on leaves that were out of reach. Many ecologists believe that by frequently pushing over trees, elephants help keep savannas as open habitats, so that they do not grow up into more dense woodlands. Because of the profound effects they can have on the ecosystems where they live, elephants are sometimes referred to as ecosystem engineers or keystone species. See the companion image to see the elephant feeding calmly.