With the world’s biodiversity under threat, scientists are beginning to look for alternative ways to study nature in an attempt to protect species and ecosystems. Facilitated by developments in technology, we can begin to explore how equipment such as drones and camera traps can be used to expand our current understanding of the natural world. Developing new computational methods to support and accelerate the analyses of data collected will be essential to this undertaking.

This project aims to progress the field of conservation technology by developing face recognition software for use in wildlife monitoring. Using human face recognition techniques, we are developing a software tool that can identify individual brown bears (Ursus arctos) from images of their faces. Applying this technology to camera trap imagery would provide scientists with a new technique to monitor wild populations of brown bears and ask a wider variety of applied research questions. This is important as scientists are under increasing pressure to draw larger conclusions from their research, but with fewer resources available. In addition, we plan to test the software in the field and develop guidelines for its use. This project provides the foundation for the development of face recognition for other threatened wildlife, which could aid conservation efforts worldwide.