University of Bristol

Spot the Penguin

Tilo Burghardt, Neill Campbell, Peter Barham, Richard Sherley

This research was conducted 2006-2009. The research aimed at providing non-invasive solutions to problems of field biology and to better understand and conserve endangered species. Specifically we are penguinsdeveloped approaches to permit remote monitoring and identification of large populations using techniques that originated in computer vision and human biometrics. Initial work was centred around the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus).

During the project we provided a proof of concept for an autonomously operating prototype system capable of monitoring and recognising individual African penguins in their natural environment without tagging or otherwise disturbing the animals. The system was limited to very good environmental conditions.

Research was conducted together with the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, with long-term support in the field from the Earthwatch Institute, and with pilot tests run in collaboration with Bristol Zoo Gardens.