Issue 14
Monday, 15 August 2016
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Wildlife Spotter: helping researchers analyse thousands of images
Wildlife Spotter: helping researchers analyse thousands of images

Thousands spot rare animals

By Patrick Nelson

Charles Darwin University researchers are benefitting from Wildlife Spotter, an internet activity that was launched this month in the lead up to National Science Week.

Senior environmental science researcher Dr Hamish Campbell said Wildlife Spotter allowed participants to sift through an enormous database of images taken by automatic cameras in the wild.

“It is a web-based platform that we developed to give people the power to share the load of analysing the thousands of images generated by camera traps,” Dr Campbell said.

“The species occurrence records will ultimately be stored within the Atlas of Living Australia, assisting scientists to better understand long-term changes in species distribution.

“At the same time spotting wildlife is an enjoyable activity and participants may see rare Australian animals in their natural habitat, they may otherwise only view in a zoo.”

Dr Campbell said that in the two weeks since the project was launched, about 18,000 wildlife spotters had identified more than 500,000 animals in more than 400,000 images. 

Wildlife Spotter contains images from six research groups around Australia, including one encompassing arid zone ecology projects set up by CDU researchers in remote parts of the Red Centre. 

“Our motion-sensitive cameras have captured images at waterholes and other locations in Watarrka National Park and near Kata Tjuta,” Dr Campbell said.

“We need to know if there is an animal in each photo and, if so, what species.

“We know that frogs, emus, dingos, kangaroos and goannas visit our camera sites, but what else and how many?”

Dr Campbell said Wildlife Spotter contained details in a brief self-paced tutorial that explained what to do.

“The activity has been designed to cater to individuals and school groups alike and explains how participants who register can win prizes.”

Anyone with an internet connection can participate by visiting W: wildlifespotter.net.au/