Shedding light on nocturnal behavior: A cost-effective solution for remote, infrared video recording in the field

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Jay A. Stafstrom, Ronald R Hoy


For behavioral ecologists who study nocturnal animals, recording behavior at night is essential, but expensive. Infrared (IR) sensitive camcorders can easily cost over $1,000 USD, yet these pricey cameras rarely stand up to the elements in the field, and pose great financial risk if left unattended overnight. Here, I provide a field-tested method to record nocturnal behavior at a fraction of the cost. I have had great success modifying inexpensive, commercially available action cameras (GoPro Hero4 camcorders) to be IR sensitive, powering these units with cellular phone power banks, and continuously recording behavior overnight while using an array of a dozen cameras. In total, all components of a recording kit are available for under $150 USD at the time of this writing, in the summer of 2023, and can be easily assembled using the following guidelines. This paper provides researchers with an economical strategy to record continuous behavior in nocturnally active animals, at any scale, from small individual animals to widely distributed animal groups. As such, I hope these methods increase the accessibility of science and expand the experimental toolkits of biologists interested in the fascinating, but much understudied world of nocturnal animal behavior.



Life Sciences


nocturnal behavior, field observations, infrared camcorder, low-cost, DIY, field observations, infrared camcorder, low-cost, diy


Published: 2023-10-15 00:12


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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