Computer analysis of video footage is one option for recording locomotor behavior for a range of neurophysiological and behavioral studies. This technique is reasonably well established and accepted, but its use for some behavioral analyses remains a challenge. For example, filming through water can lead to reflection, and filming nocturnal activity can reduce resolution and clarity of filmed images. The aim of this study was to develop a noninvasive method for recording nocturnal activity in aquatic decapods and test the accuracy of analysis by video tracking software. We selected crayfish,Cherax destructor, because they are often active at night, they live underwater, and data on their locomotion is important for answering biological and physiological questions such as how they explore and navigate. We constructed recording arenas and filmed animals in infrared light. We then compared human observer data and software-acquired values. In this article, we outline important apparatus and software issues to obtain reliable computer tracking.
Abrahamsson, S. (1983). Trappability, locomotion, and diel pattern of activity of the crayfishAstacus astacus andPacifastacus leniusculus Dana.Freshwater Crayfish,5, 239–253.
Arnott, S. A., Neil, D. M., &Ansell, A. D. (1998). Tail-flip mechanism and size-dependent kinematics of escape swimming in the brown shrimpCrangon crangon.Journal of Experimental Biology,201, 1771–1784.
Barbaresi, S., &Gherardi, F. (2001). Daily activity of the whiteclawed crayfish,Austopotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet): A comparison between field and laboratory studies.Journal of Natural History,35, 1861–1871.
Basil, J., &Sandeman, D. (2000). Crayfish (Cherax destructor) use tactile cues to detect and learn topographical changes in their environment.Ethology,106, 247–259.
Becco, C., Vandewalle, N., Delcourt, J., &Poncin, P. (2006). Experimental evidences of a structural and dynamical transition in fish school.Physica A,367, 487–493.
Belmain, S. R., Simmonds, M. S. J., &Blaney, W. M. (2000). Behavioral responses of adult deathwatch beetles,Xestobium rufovillosum de Geer (Coleoptera: Anobiidae), to light and dark.Journal of Insect Behaviour,13, 15–26.
Božič, J., Skvarč, J., &Abramson, C. I. (2004). Video analysis in bee biology using Neuro Inspector.Apiacata,38, 366–374.
Camhi, J. M., &Johnson, E. N. (1999). High frequency steering maneuvers mediated by tactile cues: Antennal wall following in the cockroach.Journal of Experimental Biology,202, 631–643.
Copp, N. H., &Jamon, M. (2001). Kinematics of rotation in place during defense turning in the crayfish Procambarus clarkii. Journal of Experimental Biology,204, 471–486.
Dobly, A. (2001). Movement patterns of male common voles (Microtus arvalis) in a network of Y junctions: Role of distant visual cues and scent marks.Canadian Journal of Zoology,79, 2228–2238.
Domenici, P., Jamon, M., &Clarac, F. (1998). Curve walking in freely moving crayfish (Procambarus clarkii).Journal of Experimental Biology,201, 1315–1329.
Dussutour, A., Deneubourg, J., &Fourcassié, V. (2005). Amplification of individual preferences in a social context: The case of wallfollowing in ants.Proceedings of the Royal Society B,272, 705–714.
Finley, L., &Macmillan, D. L. (2002). An analysis of field potentials during different tailflip behaviours in crayfish.Marine & Freshwater Behaviour & Physiology,35, 221–233.
Hazlett, B., Rittschof, D., &Ameyawakumfi, C. (1979). Variation in the caudal color spot of the crayfishOrconectes virilis (Hagen) (decapoda, cambaridae).Crustaceana,36, 56–60.
Herberholz, J., Sen, M. M., &Edwards, D. H. (2004). Escape behavior and escape circuit activation in juvenile crayfish during preys—predator interactions.Journal of Experimental Biology,201, 1855–1863.
Horner, A. J., Weissburg, M. J., &Derby, C. D. (2004). Dual antennular chemosensory pathways can mediate orientation by Caribbean spiny lobsters in naturalistic flow conditions.Journal of Experimental Biology,207, 3785–3796.
Jadot, C., Donnay, A., Ylieff, M., &Poncin, P. (2005). Impact implantation of a transmitter onSarpa salpa behaviour: Study with a computerized video tracking system.Journal of Fish Biology,67, 589–595.
Keller, T. A., Powell, I., &Weissburg, M. J. (2003). Role of olfactory appendages in chemically mediated orientation of blue crabs.Marine Ecology Progress Series,261, 217–231.
Kruk, M. R. (1997). Measuring behaviour into the twenty-first century.Trends in Neurosciences,20, 187–189.
MacIver, M. A., &Nelson, M. E. (2000). Body modeling and modelbased tracking for neuroethology.Journal of Neuroscience Methods,95, 133–143.
McMahon, A., Patullo, B. W., &Macmillan, D. L. (2005). Exploration in a T-maze: The crayfishCherax destructor suggests bilateral comparison of antennal tactile information.Biological Bulletin,208, 183–188.
Merrick, J. R. (1993).Freshwater crayfish of New South Wales. Marrickville, New South Wales: Southwood Press.
Noldus, L. P. J. J., Spink, A. J., &Tegelenbosch, R. A. J. (2001). EthoVision: A versatile video tracking system for automation of behavioural experiments.Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers,33, 398–414.
Noldus, L. P. J. J., Spink, A. J., &Tegelenbosch, R. A. J. (2002). Computerised video tracking, movement analysis and behaviour recognition in insects.Computers & Electronics in Agriculture,35, 201–227.
Page, T., &Larimer, J. L. (1972). Entrainment of the circadian locomotor activity rhythm in crayfish: The role of the eyes and caudal photoreceptor.Journal of Comparative Physiology,78, 107–120.
Panksepp, J. B., &Huber, R. (2004). Ethological analyses of crayfish behavior: A new invertebrate system for measuring the rewarding properties of psychostimulants.Behaviour & Brain Research,153, 171–180.
Patullo, B. W., &Macmillan, D. L. (2006). Corners and bubblewrap: The structure and texture of surfaces influence crayfish exploratory behaviour.Journal of Experimental Biology,209, 567–575.
Rasnow, B., Assad, C., Hartmann, M. J., &Bower, J. M. (1997). Applications of multimedia computers and video mixing to neuroethology.Journal of Neuroscience Methods,76, 83–91.
Reynolds, D. R., &Riley, J. R. (2002). Remote-sensing, telemetric and computer-based technologies for investigating insect movement: A survey of existing and potential techniques.Computers & Electronics in Agriculture,35, 271–307.
Sams-Dodd, F. (1995). Automation of the social interaction test by a video-tracking system: Behavioral effects of repeated phencyclidine treatment.Journal of Neuroscience Methods,59, 157–167.
Schmitz, B., &Herberholz, J. (1998). Snapping behaviour in intraspecific agonistic encounters in the snapping shrimp (Alpheus heterochaelis).Journal of Bioscience,23, 623–632.
Schüder, I., Port, G., &Bennison, J. (2004). The behavioural response of slugs and snails to novel molluscicides, irritants and repellents.Pest Management Science,60, 1171–1177.
Shuranova, Z., Burmistrov, Y., &Abramson, C. I. (2005). Habituation to a novel environment in the crayfishProcambarus cubensis.Journal of Crustacean Biology,25, 488–494.
Sussman, D. (1998). Behavioral measurement in perspective?Trends in Neurosciences,21, 20–21.
Szentesi, Á., Weber, D. C., &Jermy, T. (2002). Role of visual stimuli in host and mate location of the Colorado potato beetle.Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata,105, 141–152.
Valentinčič, T., Kralj, J., Stenovec, M., Koce, A., &Caprio, J. (2000). The behavioral detection of binary mixtures of amino acids and their individual components by catfish.Journal of Experimental Biology,203, 3307–3317.
Wu, B. M., Chan, F. H. Y., Lam, F. K., Poon, P. W. F., &Poon, A. M. S. (2000). A novel system for simultaneous monitoring of locomotor and sound activities in animals.Journal of Neuroscience Methods,101, 69–73.
Zurn, J. B., Jiang, X., &Motai, Y. (2005). Video-based rodent activity measurement using near-infrared illumination.Proceedings of the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference,3, 1928–1931.
This research was supported by the Australian Research Council, with funding to D.L.M. We sincerely thank the staff, Julie Anne Quinne, Keith Buxton, Brett Purcell, and Michael Cowen, from the Integrative Neuroscience Facility at the Howard Florey Institute, for the use of, and their assistance with, the EthoVision software.
About this article
Cite this article
Patullo, B.W., Jolley-Rogers, G. & Macmillan, D.L. Video tracking in the extreme: Video analysis for nocturnal underwater animal movement. Behavior Research Methods 39, 783–788 (2007). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03192969
- Video Tracking
- Nocturnal Activity
- Freshwater Crayfish
- Neuroscience Method
- Videocassette Recorder