Data processing and management are critical steps in any camera trapping study, given the large amounts of data camera traps produce. We have compiled several resources relevant to proper data management as well as software for efficient data processing.
Camera Trap Software and Data Management Resources
Proper data management is important to ensure minimal loss of data resolution and the highest efficiency possible. We suggest that practitioners use the Camera Trap Metadata Standard (CTMS) outlined by Forrester et al.'s 2016 paper. This metadata standard is currently in use by most of the largest names in large-scale camera trapping, such as Wildlife Insights, eMammal, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The government of British Columbia has also produced their own standards for camera trap metadata: the RISC Wildlife Camera Metadata Protocol. Influenced by Forrester et al.'s paper, it adapts the CTMS for use within the British Columbia Wildlife Species Inventory data management system.
We also recommend checking out Scotson et al.'s 2017 review paper on data management, where the authors suggest nine themes to ensure that no data resolution is lost.
Scotson, L., L.R. Johnston, FIannarilli, O.R. Wearn, J. Mohd‐Azlan, J.M. Wong, C.E. Willard. 2017. Best practices and software for the management and sharing of camera trap data for small and large scales studies. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, 3: 158-172.
The use of programs specifically designed for camera trap photos and their associated data is now recognized as the best method for data processing. There are quite a few programs available for practitioners now, but many of them have most of the same functionalities. The relatively few unique features that distinguish programs will help to determine what software to use, and what features are needed for specific studies will vary depending on their study designs.
The Timelapse Image Analyser for Camera Traps project is one freely-available software option. Timelapse reads and displays images and videos from any type of remote camera, automatically extracting information from all images such as dates, times and metadata of your choosing. It allows the ecologist to configure a custom interface for entering data specific to the ecology project and has various visual search tools for examining image details. Timelapse facilitates rapid data entry, especially for repetitious data common to many images. It saves all data in a database, where data can also be exported to Excel. It also includes a search engine so you can investigate subsets of your images quickly. It also works with image recognition data supplied by a 3rd party (currently Microsoft's AI for Earth project), where that data can further simplify the ecologist's workflow.
For more information, contact WildCAM Member, Saul Greenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Website (software availability, tutorials, etc,): http://saul.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/timelapse/
The following resources review and compare software programs, helping practitioners to evaluate their respective features and decide which is best for their research goals.
Scotson, L., L.R. Johnston, F. Iannarilli, O.R. Wearn, J. Mohd‐Azlan, W.M. Wong, C.E. Willard, 2017. Best practices and software for the management and sharing of camera trap data for small and large scales studies. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation: 158-172.
Greenberg, S., Godin, T. and Whittington, J. (2019) User Interface Design Patterns for Wildlife-Related Camera Trap Image Analysis. Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 9 Issue 24:13706-13730. Wiley, December 2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.5767 (open access)
Wearn, O. R. and P. Glover-Kapfer. 2017. Camera-trapping for conservation: a guide to best-practices. WWF conservation technology series 1.1 181.
Young, S., J. Rode‐Margono and R. Amin. 2018. Software to facilitate and streamline camera trap data management: a review. Ecology and Evolution, 8: 9947-9957.
** NOTE: UBC’s Wildlife Coexistence Lab is currently developing a cloud-based program for camera data management that may be available to WildCAM members in the future. Contact email@example.com for more information. **
Some of these resources may not be open access. If an article is not open access, we recommend contacting the corresponding author to request a copy or checking common repositories such as Research Gate for now.