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Camera Traps as Sensor Networks for Monitoring Animal Communities

TitleCamera Traps as Sensor Networks for Monitoring Animal Communities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsKays, RW, Kranstauber, B, Jansen, PA, Carbone, C, Rowcliffe, M, Fountain, T, Tilak, S
JournalIEEE Conference on Local Computer Networks
Keywordsbiological techniques, cameras, video surveillance, wireless sensor networks, zoology

Studying animal movement and distribution is of critical importance to addressing environmental challenges including invasive species, infectious diseases, climate and land-use change. Motion sensitive camera traps offer a visual sensor to record the presence of a species at a location, recording their movement in the Eulerian sense. Modern digital camera traps that record video present new analytical opportunities, but also new data management challenges. This paper describes our experience with a year-long terrestrial animal monitoring system at Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The data gathered from our camera network shows the spatio-temporal dynamics of terrestrial bird and mammal activity at the site-data relevant to immediate science questions, and long-term conservation issues. We believe that the experience gained and lessons learned during our year long deployment and testing of the camera traps are applicable to broader sensor network applications and are valuable for the advancement of the sensor network research. We suggest that the continued development of these hardware, software, and analytical tools, in concert, offer an exciting sensor-network solution to monitoring of animal populations which could realistically scale over larger areas and time spans.