Animal Behaviour 69, 1357-1371. 2005
In this paper, we investigate the formation and function of the multilevelled, fission-fusion social structure in a free-ranging African elephant, Loxodonta africana, population. We quantitatively identified the existence of four social tiers by using cluster analysis on individual association data. We assessed the effects of season and study period on social structuring and levels of cohesion within and among social units. ??We found that second-tier units, potentially the equivalent of the 'family', were stable across seasonal periods but the number of units increased as the study progressed and the population grew. It appears that these units were sufficiently small not to be influenced by ecologically related factors, such as resource competition, that might otherwise lead to them splitting.