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Animal Behaviour Pro

 

Optimise live coding of animal behaviour, in the field or the laboratory. 

Animal Behaviour ProEasy to configure to record the data you need, the way you need it: your subject codes, your ethogram. Eliminate transcription errors and time lost to manual data entry.

  • Continuous focal animal sampling
  • Instantaneous scan sampling
  • Focal behaviour/sequence sampling
  • Ad libitum sampling
  • Simultaneous use of different methods 
  • Virtually unlimited number of subjects
  • Virtually unlimited behaviour codes
  • Export CSV format data via iTunes or by Email
  • Multiple coding schemes
  • Define and edit schemes in the App
  • Lock schemes for use by students and field assistants
  • Data files tagged by user ID

Support: AnimalBehaviourPro@kent.ac.uk

Quick Start: Enter a 4-digit code to get started; this code is your user ID, and will tag all the data you collect, identifying you as the observer. You will then need to import or configure a coding scheme (ethogram + subjects) using the 'Manage' button, assign a coding scheme and other pertinent parameters to one of the sampling methods, and you will be ready to collect data.


Introduction

This app is a flexible data logger, designed for use in the live coding of animal behaviour, following Altmann (1974; Behav 49), particularly under field conditions. It provides four standard methods  - Focal Animal Sampling, Scan Sampling, Focal Behaviour Sampling and Ad Libitum Sampling - in a highly configurable fashion that should allow you to apply them to your study species, to address your particular research questions. 

The app is designed to be a useful tool rather than a tyrant - for example, with this app you are not tied to a desktop program; can export data in a standard format (CSV) either via iTunes or by email;  are essentially unlimited in the number of subjects or behaviours you want to specify; choose your own codings of whatever length (I recommend 2-4 characters for visibility, but this is not required); update or modify your coding scheme in the field; use multiple coding schemes; run different sampling methods simultaneously; group subjects to sort and cluster the buttons for actors & receivers (start group names with 1., 2., 3, etc.).

In addition, sampling does not start until you you begin to enter an observation - no more dead time at the beginning of samples - and the time of occurrence for a behaviour is recorded when you press the first button (typically the relevant actor, or the behaviour of a focal individual), but the observation is not saved until you 'OK' the entry - this gives you time to fully describe the behaviour (to the level of detail you have specified in your coding scheme).

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Coding Scheme

The heart of the app's functionality. This consists of a list of subjects (all individuals who may feature as either actors or receivers of behaviour), subject groupings, a list of all the behaviours you might wish to record (your ethogram), and a list of 'modifiers' - qualifiers for individual behaviour patterns. All behaviours are required to specify a target when created - self (the actor), other (another individual), or none (no target) - so that the app can present appropriate options when recording to reduce the number of buttons you need to press.

Coding for behaviours should generally be mutually exclusive and exhaustive, although the app supports using non-mutually exclusive codes when your research question or method requires it.  Coding schemes can created directly in the app, as well as exported & imported, and shared between devices. Each sampling method can use a different coding scheme if desired. Getting the coding scheme right is paramount, and testing and revision is recommended before data collection starts. Note that the app does not schedule your samples - it is a tool to increase efficiency of data collection, not a means to turn an intelligent observer into a data-collection robot.

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Focal Animal Sampling

Continuous focal animal sampling is implemented (instantaneous focal sampling is planned for a future update, but can at present be conducted using 'Scan Sampling'). By default, the app assumes that the focal animal will be the actor for any behaviour, but if you select an alternative actor, the app will record the focal animal as the receiver - thus all behaviour recorded by focal animal sampling will have the focal animal as either actor or receiver. Sample duration and individual focal can be specified on a sample-by-sample basis, guided by your research questions and protocol.

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Scan Sampling

The instantaneous sampling of the behaviour of one or more individuals. Three options are available - 'all behaviour', in which all behaviours listed in the coding scheme can be recorded, along with modifiers, for each of the the subjects; 'single behaviour', in which a single behaviour code is preselected, and scanning records those individuals performing that behaviour; and 'presence', in which the presence (and by exclusion, absence) of subjects is recorded. Note that for 'all behaviour' scan sampling, 'OK' is used to signify that you have specified the correct information for each actor; a right-to-left swipe of the reporting area provides the option to conclude (and save) the scan.

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Focal Behaviour

This method allows for both 'behaviour' and 'sequence' sampling. To use Focal Behaviour sampling, your coding scheme needs to have behaviours arranged in groups; the app then limits the available behaviour codes to those in the groups you have configured, to make it easier to select the appropriate codes when recording detailed sequences of behaviour. Behaviours can be assigned to groups when they are created or edited in the coding scheme.

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Ad Libitum

The traditional 'note taking' approach still has its uses, to collect contextual information, or to record rare or otherwise interesting behaviour outside your chosen data collection schedule. The app allows you to do this in two ways: first, through a similar interface to the other sampling methods, with, potentially, its own dedicated coding scheme; second, by allowing you to type whatever text you need onto virtual notepaper ('Notes').

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Last Updated: 07/06/2013