Ecologists Wild About Barcoding

Field ecologist have a new high-tech way of studying individual animals in the wild. Instead of relying on DNA evidence or visual identification, a new imaging technology helps scientists automate identification.

Called Stripespotter, this barcode-like scanning system uses the animal’s markings, such as the stripes found on zebras, to identify individual animals from a photograph.

Here’s how Stripespotter works. The ecologist takes a photo of the animal in the field with a digital camera, then uploads the image to Stripespotter’s database. The program analyzes the pixels in a portion of the image, and assigns a “stripecode” to that particular animal. With a database of unique codes assigned to individual animals, scientists can now track animals more accurately, much like you can track a product through your supply channel.

This imaging technique can be used with any animal having distinct striped markings, like tigers and giraffes.

Using this system, scientists have a more automated and faster way to track and study animal behaviors. With more data, healthy animal populations can be maintained and habitats preserved.

If you want to read more about this application and the science behind it, click here.

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