AnimalFinder: A semi-automated system for animal detection in time-lapse camera trap images

Ecological Informatics
By: , and 



Although the use of camera traps in wildlife management is well established, technologies to automate image processing have been much slower in development, despite their potential to drastically reduce personnel time and cost required to review photos. We developed AnimalFinder in MATLAB® to identify animal presence in time-lapse camera trap images by comparing individual photos to all images contained within the subset of images (i.e. photos from the same survey and site), with some manual processing required to remove false positives and collect other relevant data (species, sex, etc.). We tested AnimalFinder on a set of camera trap images and compared the presence/absence results with manual-only review with white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), wild pigs (Sus scrofa), and raccoons (Procyon lotor). We compared abundance estimates, model rankings, and coefficient estimates of detection and abundance for white-tailed deer using N-mixture models. AnimalFinder performance varied depending on a threshold value that affects program sensitivity to frequently occurring pixels in a series of images. Higher threshold values led to fewer false negatives (missed deer images) but increased manual processing time, but even at the highest threshold value, the program reduced the images requiring manual review by ~40% and correctly identified >90% of deer, raccoon, and wild pig images. Estimates of white-tailed deer were similar between AnimalFinder and the manual-only method (~1–2 deer difference, depending on the model), as were model rankings and coefficient estimates. Our results show that the program significantly reduced data processing time and may increase efficiency of camera trapping surveys.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title AnimalFinder: A semi-automated system for animal detection in time-lapse camera trap images
Series title Ecological Informatics
DOI 10.1016/j.ecoinf.2016.11.003
Volume 36
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 6 p.
First page 145
Last page 151
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