Journal of Ethology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 315–322 | Cite as

Decision tree classification of behaviors in the nesting process of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from tri-axial acceleration data

  • Hideaki Nishizawa
  • Takuji Noda
  • Tohya Yasuda
  • Junichi Okuyama
  • Nobuaki Arai
  • Masato Kobayashi


Sea turtles are endangered marine-adapted reptiles that are obligate terrestrial nesters. They have a nesting process that involves a series of behavioral phases: (1) crawling, (2) digging a body pit, (3) digging an egg chamber, (4) depositing eggs, (5) covering the egg chamber, and (6) camouflaging the site. Discrimination among these behavioral phases is necessary for estimating which parts of the nesting process are affected by human activities or characteristics of beaches. We calculated multivariate features from tri-axial accelerations obtained by a data logger to extract key features for discriminating between these behavioral phases of green turtles (Chelonia mydas). The developed decision tree classifier discriminated these behaviors with high accuracy, resulting in 5 behaviors after combining digging a body pit and camouflaging the site (86.207 %). The structure of the tree showed key features for discriminating the 5 behaviors on the basis of differences in the movements of turtles. The decision rules in this study will enable us to discriminate behavioral phases quantitatively without observer interference, thereby providing a basis for estimating turtle energy budget and the influence of human activities on nesting behavior.


Acceleration Decision tree Ethogram Nesting Sea turtle 



We acknowledge the following people for their help in attaching and removing data loggers: the members of the Ishigaki Island Sea Turtle Research Group; K. Okuzawa and the staff of the Research Center for Subtropical Fisheries; Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute; D. Imakita, Faculty of Agriculture, Kinki University; and Y. Kawabata, K. Ichikawa, H. Watanabe, T. Hashiguchi, T. Koizumi, and A. Nakabayashi, Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on this manuscript. This study was partly supported by the Global COE Program, Informatics Education and Research for a Knowledge-Circulating Society.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hideaki Nishizawa
    • 1
  • Takuji Noda
    • 1
  • Tohya Yasuda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Junichi Okuyama
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nobuaki Arai
    • 1
    • 4
  • Masato Kobayashi
    • 5
  1. 1.Graduate School of InformaticsKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Seikai National Fisheries Research InstituteFisheries Research AgencyNagasakiJapan
  3. 3.Protected Resources Division, Southwest Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Field Science Education and Research CenterKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  5. 5.Research Center for Subtropical Fisheries, Seikai National Fisheries Research InstituteFisheries Research AgencyOkinawaJapan

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