Scheibe, K.M., Eichhorn, K., Wiesmayr, M. et al. Eur J Wildl Res (2008) 54: 53. doi:10.1007/s10344-007-0108-0
The design and application of automatic video recording systems for wild animals are described. Such systems enable continuous, long-time and repercussion-free surveillance of selected areas in the field. The performance characteristics of a conventional VHS video-tape system are compared to a digital video recording system. The recordings were used to develop daily and annual plots of occurrence for the different species and to display the preferences for darkness, twilight and light phase by the different species over the year. Absolute utilisation frequency as well as relative species composition can be obtained and compared between seasons or different places. The videos also were analysed for time budgets of basic behaviour patterns like feeding, walking, observing, social interaction, flight and comfort behaviour. Automatic video technique is a highly convenient tool for systematic long-term field research on occurrence of wild animal species, daily and annual activity rhythms, behaviour and area utilisation. Such systems can be applied especially to record animals at clearings, feeding or bait places, water sources, salt licks or traps.