Michael Garstang

Distinguished Investigator and Research Professor

Convective storms, sometimes reaching into the stratosphere, play a major role in maintaining the heat balance of the atmosphere and in governing the vertical distribution of critical trace gases and aerosols. Work involving the coupling of the deeper atmosphere to the surface and boundary layers is being conducted over the tropical Atlantic and Pacific. Other studies, which capitalize upon knowledge of convective storms and the boundary layer, include global and regional rainfall, gaps in the rainforest and low-frequency sound transmission. Elephant behavioral studies including interaction with weather and climate are continuing together with elephant and other animal response to abiotic sounds such as those generated by precursor earthquake signals.

With his students, notably Robert Swap, he pioneered work on the transport of critical trace elements from the Sahara-Sahel into the forest regime of the Amazon Basin and deposition maintaining the largest inland delta: the Okavango swamps in Botswana. His work on elephant communication expanded into the abiotic sound regimes of geophysical phenomena such as thunderstorms, earthquakes and tsunamis. His 2015 book on elephant behavior: “Elephant Sense and Sensibility: Behavior and Cognition”, is the single most comprehensive treatment of elephant behavior currently in print.

Michael continues to paint and write in the areas of African wildlife.

Artwork by Michael Garstang:



Calls in the wild. Review by L. Warren of M. Garstang’s field campaign. Nat. Geographic Magazine, March, 96-101, 2004.

Long-distance, low-frequency elephant communication. J. Compara. Physiol. A, 190, 791-805 (M. Garstang), 2004.

Weather modification: Finding common ground. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 86, 647-655 (M. Garstang, R. Bruintjes, R. Serafin, H. Orville, B. Boe, W. Cotton, and J. Warburton), 2004.

The daily cycle of low-frequency elephant calls and near-surface atmospheric conditions. Earth Interactions, 9, Paper No. 14, 21 pp (M. Garstang, D. Fitzjarrald, K. Fristrup, and C. Brain), 2005.

Diurnal cycle of low-level clouds and the tropical convective boundary layer. J. Appl. Meteor., 44, 1607-1619 ( C. Strong, J.D. Fuentes, M. Garstang, and A.K. Betts), 2005.

Ntombazana: A Story of an African Elephant Family (M. Garstang), 202 pp., 2008.

Precursor tsunami signals detected by elephants. The Open Conserva. Biol. J., 3, 1-3 (M. Garstang), 2009.

Elephant infrasounds: long-range communication. Chap. 3.2 in Handbook of Mammalian Vocalization, S.M. Brudzynski (ed.,), pp. 57-67 (M. Garstang). doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12374593- 4.00007-3, 2010.

No simple cause and effect for glacial melt. Physics Today, July, p. 10 (M. Garstang), 2010. On the coupling between vegetation and the atmosphere. Theor. Appl. Climatol., 105, 243-261 (I.M. Angelini, M. Garstang, R.E. Davis, B. Hayden, D.R. Fitzjarrald, D. Legates, S. Greco, S. Macko and V. Connors), doi: 10.1007/s00704-010-0377-5, 2011.

Weather and climate influences on the movement patterns of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the role of infrasound. Proc. 19th Internat. Soc. Biometeor., December, Auckland, New Zealand (R. Davis, M. Garstang, K. Leggett, E. Zipser, S. Greco and M. Petersen), 2011.

On the possible detection of lightning storms by elephants. Animals, 3, 349-355 (M. Kelley and M. Garstang), doi: 10.3390/ani3020349, 2013.

The Utrecht district and the disputed territory - a cause of the Anglo-Zulu War re-examined. Adv Hist Stud, 3, 170-181 (A.D. Coleman and M. Garstang), 2014.

Climate and the mfecane. So. Afr. J. Sci., 110(5/6), 7 pgs., (M. Garstang, A.D. Coleman and M. Therrell),, 2014.

Response of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) to Seasonal Changes in Rainfall. PLoS ONE 9(10): e108736. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108736 (M. Garstang, R.E. Davis, K. Leggett, O.W. Frauenfeld, S. Greco, E. Zipser and M. Peterson), 2014.

Elephant Sense and Sensibility: Behavior and Cognition (M. Garstang), Elsevier Academic Press, 152 pgs., 2015.

Understanding animal detection of precursor earthquake sounds (M. Garstang and M. Kelley), 2017. Under review in Animals.