Nav: Home

LemurFaceID: Using facial recognition software to identify lemurs

February 16, 2017

A team of lemur biologists and computer scientists has modified human facial recognition methods to develop a semi-automated system that can identify individual lemurs. The new technology, dubbed LemurFaceID, is reported this week in the open access journal BMC Zoology.

According to the research team from The George Washington University, University of Arizona, Hunter College, and Michigan State University, USA, this is the first time that facial recognition technology has been applied to any of the over 100 lemur species endemic to Madagascar. The researchers showed that LemurFaceID can correctly identify individual lemurs with 98.7% accuracy, given two face images of the individual.

Dr Rachel Jacobs, the corresponding author from The George Washington University said: "Using photos we had taken of wild red-bellied lemurs in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar, our co-author Anil Jain and members from his laboratory were able to adapt a facial recognition system designed for human faces so that it recognizes individual lemurs based on their facial characteristics. We were surprised with the high degree of accuracy that we achieved, which shows that facial recognition can be a useful tool for lemur identification."

For short-term studies of lemurs, researchers often rely on unique, individual identifiers to recognize individual lemurs, such as differences in body size and shape or the presence of injuries and scars. However, relying on variations in appearance can make it difficult for different researchers to identify the same individual over time. This and other factors mean that long-term, multi-generation studies of lemur populations are limited.

Stacey Tecot, senior author of the study said: "Studying individuals and populations over long periods of time provides crucial data on how long individuals live in the wild, how frequently they reproduce, as well as rates of infant and juvenile mortality and ultimately population growth and decline. Information like that can inform conservation strategies for lemurs, a highly endangered group of mammals."

The researchers suggest that the new technology could remove many of the limitations associated with traditional methods for lemur identification.

Dr Jacobs explained: "Capture and collar methods are a common practice for the identification of wild lemurs but these methods can pose risks to the animals, such as injury or stress, as well as costs for veterinary services and anesthesia. Our method is non-invasive and would help reduce or eliminate some of these costs."

To address the challenge of developing a non-invasive method for identifying individual lemurs that can facilitate long-term research, the researchers modified and tested human facial recognition technology specifically for lemur faces, using a dataset of 462 images of 80 red-bellied lemur individuals, and a database containing a further 190 images of other lemur species. Many lemur faces possess unique features such as hair and skin patterns that computer systems can be trained to recognize.

In addition to expanding longitudinal research on lemur populations and assisting conservation efforts, the researchers believe that the face recognition methods developed for LemurFaceID could be useful for identification of other primate and non-primate species with variable facial hair and skin patterns, such as bears, red pandas, raccoons or sloths. The authors also point out that in non-captive settings, where unknown individuals might enter a population, the system's accuracy was lower and further testing involving larger datasets of individuals and photographs is needed.
-end-
Media Contact

Anne Korn
Press Officer
BioMed Central
T: +44 (0)20 3192 2744
E: anne.korn@biomedcentral.com

Notes to editors:

1. Images and videos are available from Anne Korn at BioMed Central.

2. Research article:
LemurFaceID: a face recognition system to facilitate individual identification of lemurs
Crouse et al BMC Zoology 2017
DOI: 10.1186/s40850-016-0011-9

During the embargo period, the article is available from Anne Korn at BioMed Central.

After the embargo lifts, the article will be available at the journal website here: http://bmczool.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40850-016-0011-9

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

3. BMC Zoology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of zoology, including comparative physiology, mechanistic and functional studies, morphology, life history, animal behavior, signaling and communication, cognition, parasitism, systematics, biogeography and conservation.

4. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Nature, a major new force in scientific, scholarly, professional and educational publishing, created in May 2015 through the combination of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. http://www.biomedcentral.com

BioMed Central

Related Lemurs Articles:

Mouse lemur could serve as ideal model for primate biology and human disease
The mouse lemur -- the world's smallest primate -- has the potential to transform the field of genetics and serve as an ideal model for a wide range of primate biology, behavior and medicine, including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers say.
Newfound primate teeth take a big bite out of the evolutionary tree of life
Fossil hunters have found part of an ancient primate jawbone related to lemurs -- the primitive primate group distantly connected to monkeys, apes and humans, a USC researcher said.
Can facial recognition systems help save lemurs?
Michigan State University's biometrics team, led by Anil Jain, modified their human facial recognition system to create LemurFaceID, the first computer facial recognition system for lemurs.
LemurFaceID: Using facial recognition software to identify lemurs
A team of lemur biologists and computer scientists has modified human facial recognition methods to develop a semi-automated system that can identify individual lemurs.
Researchers design facial recognition system as less invasive way to track lemurs in wild
A team of researchers has developed a new computer-assisted recognition system that can identify individual lemurs in the wild by their facial characteristics and ultimately help to build a database for long-term research on lemur species.
Ring-tailed lemurs: Going, going, gone?
The ring-tailed lemur, a primate that is emblematic of the wild and wonderful creatures inhabiting the tropical island of Madagascar, is in big trouble -- there less than 2,500 left in wild, says new study involving the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Victoria.
Female lemurs with color vision provide advantages for their group
Female lemurs with normal color vision, as well as their cohabitating colorblind group members, may have selective advantage over lemur groups whose members are all colorblind, according to anthropologists at The University of Texas at Austin.
Media invited to lemur research, conservation symposium at Duke University
Media are invited to learn more about the latest research on lemurs and their conservation at a two-day symposium at Duke University in Durham, NC.
Twenty-five little bones tell a puzzling story about early primate evolution
A cache of exquisitely preserved bones, found in a coal mine in the state of Gujarat, India, appear to be the most primitive primate bones yet discovered, according to a new analysis.
Ridiculously cute mouse lemurs hold key to Madagascar's past
Scientists studied mouse lemur DNA to determine how Madagascar's landscape changed over time -- since the lemurs are forest-dependent, changes in their DNA show how Madagascar's forests changed thousands of years ago.

Related Lemurs Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...