Application of a high-resolution animal-borne remote video camera with global positioning for wildlife study: Observations on the secret lives of woodland caribou


  • Associate Editor: Rominger.


For many species of animals, obtaining basic life-history data is difficult and even some common aspects, such as diet choice, remain unknown. To overcome this problem, we deployed what is, to our knowledge, the first successful application of a terrestrial high-resolution animal-borne video camera with on-board long-term recording and an associated Global Positioning (GPS) unit. Five cameras recorded video and audio and associated GPS locations of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) activities during 20 weeks from March to July 2011, although the units can run for >36 weeks depending on the rate of data collection. About 6% of videos were unusable because of fogging or snow on the lens, and clarity of plant images, especially ground covers, was a problem in a few of the files but overall quality of the videos was high and identification of diet by plant species can be achieved. We present a sample of data on several aspects of previously unknown behaviors of woodland caribou from boreal forests in central Canada, including parturition and diet selection to the level of individual plant species, to illustrate the capability of these units for improving our understanding of the behaviors of large elusive animals. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.