Submitted to: Journal of Neuroscience Methods
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/26/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Changes in the activity of insects and other animals indicate the effects of chemicals or the physiological condition of the animals. This paper describes a video camera-computer system that records the activity of an unlimited number of moving animals on the photographically varied background. Activity is recorded relative to area and time of occurrence, based on subdivisions of time and space as defined by the system user. The system is useful for rapid and objective analysis of patterns of activity though a 24-hour cycle, responses to insecticides or bait in specific areas, formation of trails, or movement within a colony or experiment arena. Examples of such activity are respectively: emergence of adult flies from pupae on an hourly basis, approach to four choices of bait by cockroaches, foraging trails of an ant colony, or spontaneous searching behavior of predaceous mites. The system may be used by scientists who test poison bait for control of the Imported Fire Ant, various species of cockroach, and other household pests. Furthermore, the system may be used to detect subtle changes in the behavior of beneficial insects, such as honeybees, when they are inadvertently subjected to insecticide applications. Also, the system may be used by a wide range of scientists engaged in basic research on animal behavior and toxicology.
Technical Abstract: We describe and validate a computer-video system that records and displays in real-time the activity of multiple specimens in a user-defined space, at user-defined intervals. The computer program uses image subtraction algorithms to record change in video images, and store observations in column format or as a series of 2-D matrices. The program was tested under various lighting conditions, backgrounds, specimen size and specimen speed. An AV model of Macintosh computer with video input from a camera or video cassette recorder was used to record and analyze the mechanical movement of spots on a turntable and the locomotor activity of an ant colony. The limitations and potential applications of the program are discussed.