Toolbox update 5: Camera trapping database

We have a treat for all you camera trappers out there, especially those with tons of photos lying in the depths of your hard drives gathering virtual dust and cobwebs. Shariff Mohamad, who is a field biologist with WWF-Malaysia, has developed a database for camera trapping data. He is delighted to share his software to make the lives of disorganized camera trappers much easier when it comes to processing camera trap photos for statistical analyses. By the way, Shariff was also one of the authors of the very useful guide to camera trapping in the previous Toolbox update #4. So take it away Shariff!

Happy new year everyone!  The reason I am sharing this is so that camera trappers have an alternative database solution apart from the popular software Camera Base. Unfortunately, there are hardly any camera-trap databases available for public use, so I thought it would be useful to offer an alternative to people out there. I initially considered using Camera Base while looking for data solutions, but in the end decided to create my own using the same platform (MS Access), as at the time I couldn’t figure out how to customize Camera Base according to my specific needs. I want to clarify that I don’t consider my database superior to Camera Base in any way, but am merely providing an alternative data solution for those with similar needs.

So here are the files you need to download:

New features in WWF-Malaysia Tiger Conservation Project Camera trap database v.261112.

- batch processing of photographs, by folder
- automatic extraction of the location ID, based on the folder names
- ‘delete record’ button added to the data entry forms

File 1) WWF-Malaysia Camera-trap database v.261112

File 2) Analysis tools (useful R script and excel format templates that can be used for analyses in Programs CAPTURE, PRESENCE and R package ‘secr‘)

OPTIONAL

File 3) WWF-Malaysia Camera-trap database v.261112 (similar to File 1 but with sample data)

Inputting data into the database is relatively simple; you only have to fill in two forms – one for camera-trap locations and one for the photo data. The results will be compiled automatically. However, make sure to read the data entry guide (embedded in the database) beforehand!

Anyway, if your current camera-trapping data is in a different format (e.g. in excel spreadsheets), it can still be exported into this database as long as you adhere the correct sequence and format. By exporting, I mean moving the data in entirety, not one by one. If you are familiar with MS Access you might know how to do this, although feel free to contact me if you don’t.

I won’t go into details about the summaries and analysis outputs; you can see the results for yourself in the database which contains sample data (refer to File 3). Most of the outputs are pretty basic and easy to understand. However, the database does not directly generate the appropriate data format for density or occupancy estimation software. To do this you have to go through a couple of extra steps, using MS Excel or R (refer to File 2).

Although the database does not produce the outputs in the appropriate format directly, it still saves a lot of time and reduces user error as opposed to doing the whole process manually. Anyway, I recommend testing out database alternatives before deciding on which one to use, or even choosing to develop your own. The best way to gauge which solution is best would be to input a sample of your data into the database and see what the outputs look like – then you would be able to assess whether it is suitable for your use or not.

This database was actually not originally meant for distribution; after time it just happened to evolve from a basic table-based data storage system into what it is today. The idea to share it only occurred recently, as I thought it might be a useful resource for other people conducting camera-trapping. Hence, use it at your own risk! I should mention though, that it has generally worked well for us and has proved invaluable in organizing our camera-trap data and in terms of providing out core outputs.  If you don’t have MS Access it can still be run via a free version called Access Runtime, although I still recommend the full version due to limitations in customizing or editing the database.

Anyway that’s the general overview of my database; if you have any inquiries then I’m willing to assist in any way I can. If the results of this database are used for any publications or reports, please credit WWF-Malaysia. Hope this helps!

I can be contacted at harlequin DOT forest DOT of DOT october AT gmail DOT com

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Posted on January 5, 2012, in Biologist's Toolbox, Home and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hi, this website very usefull..thanks a lot for your kindness for sharing the knowledge.

    Iman

  2. Your access databese very useful. Can I use that and modify the first screen?

  3. Thank you for sharing such a useful resource. I am due to carry out my 1st professional CT survey in Malawi in July. I am planning on using the traps to record video to allow us to use the footage for outreach as well as analysis. Will this tool work with vide files?

  4. Thanks for the reply. Still havent decided on using vids due to additional battery & memory requirements. Thanks again. Will try the tool though.

  5. I have had a play with the tool and it is excellent. I think it will meet my needs well. I have played with Camerabase as well but it seemed more “buggy” and complex than I need it to be. Can I ask is there a simple way to export details to a mapping software such as Google maps?

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