Animal-borne video and environmental data collection systems (AVEDs) are integrated sensor systems that collect video from the animal's perspective and combine it with data from other sensors, including audio, location, temperature, acceleration, and other data. By placing sensor data within the context of video, AVEDs provide a unique perspective not offered by other methods and facilitate research into animal behavior and foraging tactics, animal energetics, wildlife damage issues, and inter- and intra-specific interactions. Marine AVEDs have outpaced their terrestrial counterparts in technological sophistication and store all data onboard. Terrestrial systems have been transmission-based and thus have been deployed on species that are easily tracked or habituated to humans. We present the first terrestrial, store-onboard AVED developed for large mammals and demonstrate the utility of our AVEDs by quantifying and describing contacts among white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Our system was largely developed from commercially available equipment and included a camera, microcomputer, and a sensor board attached to a neck collar with affixed battery packs. We deployed the system on 2 semi-wild and 2 free-ranging deer. We collected 12.2, 12.3, 30.3, and 41.6 h of video during our deployments; the 2 lowest recording durations were the result of blown fuses in the battery packs. We observed 11 contacts among white-tailed deer during 4 deployments. Contacts comprised a total of 22.8 min (over(x, ̄) = 2.1 min / contact, SE = 0.7). Our AVEDs revealed several behaviors during contacts between individual white-tailed deer, including inspection, avoidance, and grooming. These data are not captured by other techniques (e.g., radio telemetry) and demonstrate the utility of continuous video and other sensors from the animal's perspective. Although AVEDs are a powerful new tool for wildlife research and management, their use should be preceded by careful formulation of research and management objectives.
- White-tailed deer