2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity. We rely on the diversity of life to provide us with food, fuel and medicine, yet our activities are causing biodiversity to vanish at unprecedented rates. Twenty-five to - 36 percent of mammal species are now in danger of extinction, and with them these resource-rich ecosystems. WildTrack (www.wildtrack.org) is working with JMP software to develop a footprint identification technique (FIT) which is helping to address this crisis. It’s a whole new approach to wildlife monitoring. Based on the ancient art of animal tracking, FIT distills traditional animal tracking skills into a robust scientific tool for endangered species conservation. We have more than 20 different species and project partners around the world. Our data have three levels of complexity:
Each species has unique foot geometry.
Each individual within a given species has a unique footprint.
Each time an individual places its foot it leaves behind a unique print.
Using JMP software, FIT extracts and distills data collected from footprints to identify animals at the species, individual, age-class or sex levels, with high accuracy. We will present the inspiration behind FIT and describe data collection in field situations ranging from work with the black rhino in the African bush to the polar bear in the Arctic tundra. We will show new developments in image-capture developed with tigers in North Carolina, and new techniques in image-manipulation in JMP. We will demonstrate statistical verification of FIT using multidimensional scaling and bagged prediction models in JMP.