Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) / Feed

Footprints are everywhere, and are perhaps the most overlooked source of data on the planet.  WildTrack's Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) can identify species, individuals, sex and age-class to a high level of accuracy from simple images of footprints taken to a standardized protocol. This technique has the benefit of being non-invasive, cost-effective and draws on the strengths of community-skills such as tracking and observation. Our WildTrackFIT community is composed of users in >20 countries and we have FIT species algorithms developed for a range of species from big cats to Pachyderms, bears, mustelids, and even small mammals.If you see footprints as part of your fieldwork, or in another capacity, we'd love to hear from you!


Autonomizing Small Mammal Traps

If there was a product on the market that was capable of trapping, ‘tagging,’ and releasing an individual without human intervention, would you or your peers invest? Live mammal...

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One thing to keep in mind is that researchers often want or at least would like to get certain metadata on the tagged animals like sex, size, weight, apperent fitness etc. Without these the questions you can ask can get rather limited. Also, it will also often be highly desired to take samples like blood, hair, other tissue e.g.

In addition, there can be cases where it may be better not to tag the animal if it is not the right age group, is too small to carry the tag, seems like it is not in a good shape etc.

I think it will take quite an effort to get automated systems (capture robots) to make these decisions to a degree you can trust.



I always thought a tracker that attached like a slap bracelet would be sweet.

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Get To Know FIT!

We're excited to welcome the WildTrack FIT group to our WILDLABS community! Today, we'd like to introduce you to the Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) and share how...

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Upper level undergraduates

Dear Zoe,

I wonder whether FIT would be good for species-level (rather than individual level) identification of small mammals. We use track tunnels to get prints of dormice (3 species) on carbon soot (metal surface covered by soot). We do have bibliographical reference of those species (Glis glis, Dryomys nitedula, Muscardinus avellanarius) and other "usual suspects" (e.g. Apodemus sp.). Fom some of them, we also have some tracks from captive animals (although not as many as you describe you need in the videos, but we could arrange for more in the future...once the dormice wake up again in the Spring). Is this something worth exploring? We can manually do the id for our current project, but I am interested in developing know-how for the future as well (and use the current project to achieve this).

Alternatively - and equally interestingly for us - we could work on individual level identification of animals of a small Dryomys nitedula population that we have within our research institute's ground (and hence we can easily do lots of field tests etc.)  - ideally involving an undergraduate student in the process as well (come Spring 2020). Would this be something that we could work on, with some guidance - collaboration for you - with the intent of getting a model out for peopel to use across Europe?

Maybe we could discuss sometime? My email is [email protected] 



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Monitoring Otters using FIT: Challenges and Discoveries!

Frederick Kistner, Ph.D. Candidate, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. Figure 1 see below: Eurasian otters feeding by a river in Portugal in...

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So interesting, thanks for sharing! It's always really helpful for the community to hear about the trial and error that goes into fieldwork. I also never realized that heat-sensing camera traps don't work on certain animals like otters, really curious to learn more - are there strategies to deal with that problem?? Maybe someone from our camera trap group could chime in on that aspect?

Hi Ellie,

thanks for your interest. So I have two possible explanations why the camera traps I used did not release, even though I found otter droppings directly in front of my camera (and later my happy face that I must have gotten them this time even though it was not the case).

I. The Cameras I used in that specific campaign where quite old and I am not too experienced in using them so maybe I did not set them up correctly. This is something I will try to overcome with newer cameras and more training in my next field campaign whenever COVID allows me to travel again...

II. Otters are very well insulated having more than 70k of hair per cm2. I found some fabulous infrared images in a book from Irene Weinberger that showed how little heat otters actually emit and that otters only differed significantly from the background radiation at there feet and nose. So another explanation of mine is that unless these bodyparts are captured by the camera's sensor the camera won´t release.

I will try new Cameratraps the next time I will have the opportunity to do fieldwork in Portugal and will let you know how it went. Until then I will try to work my way around it using footprints :-).

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Tracking rhino using FIT - new paper in PeerJ!

We like that this paper focuses on the needs of field biologists wanting to find a cost-effective and community-friendly method of monitoring endangered species, in this example...

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I am interested with this discussion

Hi Emanuel, welcome to our group! If you have any questions or ideas to share, please don't hesitate to reach out.

With best wishes,


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Thinking Outside the Box: Using FIT for Box Turtle Shell ID

By: Grace Bowman Conservation Assistant Piedmont Wildlife Center Durham, North Carolina If you’re at all familiar with WildTrack’s Footprint Identification...

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Did you know that Wildtrack's Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) can be used to promote human-wildlife coexistence!

By Amy Fitzmaurice The collaborative Living with Tigers Project run by Chester Zoo in collaboration with Green Governance Nepal (GGN), the Department of National Parks...

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Hi Santhosh, welcome to the FIT community, we're glad you joined!

Karin has explained very nicely the difference between the footprint identification technique (FIT) that we use and the old 'pugmark' technique. I'd say that every technique, FIT included, has strengths and weaknesses. FIT, for example, will not work in an area where footprints can't be found. The pugmark technique was very reliant on expert assessment and was prone to inaccuracies for that reason, but on the plus side it could be rolled out over a huge area and engaged the traditional ecological knowledge that is part of India's cultural heritage. The camera traps that replaced it have had their fair share of problems (difficulties arranging the traps for optimal sampling, cameras being stolen, cameras are expensive etc). Our belief is that using several different non-invasive techniques for any one survey yields the most reliable results. I hope this helps. 

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