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Open Access

CARNIVORE: A Disruption-Tolerant System for Studying Wildlife

  • Matthew Rutishauser1,
  • Vladislav Petkov1Email author,
  • Jay Boice1,
  • Katia Obraczka1,
  • Patrick Mantey1,
  • Terrie M. Williams2 and
  • Christopher C. Wilmers3
EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking20102011:968046

Received: 16 May 2010

Accepted: 22 September 2010

Published: 30 September 2010


We present CARNIVORE, a system for in situ, unobtrusive monitoring of cryptic, difficult-to-catch/observe wildlife in their natural habitat. CARNIVORE is a network of mobile and static nodes with sensing, processing, storage, and wireless communication capabilities. CARNIVORE's compact, low-power, mobile animal-borne nodes collect sensor data and transmit it to static nodes, which then relay it to the Internet. Depending on the wildlife being studied, the network can be quite sparse and therefore disconnected frequently for arbitrarily long periods of time. To support "disconnected operation", CARNIVORE uses an "opportunistic routing" approach taking advantage of every encounter between nodes (mobile-to-mobile and mobile-to-static) to propagate data. With a lifespan of 50–100 days, a CARNIVORE mobile node, outfitted on a collar, collects and transmits 1 GB of data compared to 450 kB of data from comparable commercially available wildlife collars. Each collar records 3-axis accelerometer and GPS data to infer animal behavior and energy consumption.Testing in both laboratory and free-range settings with domestic dogs shows that galloping and trotting behavior can be identified. Data collected from first deployments on mountain lions (Puma concolor) near Santa Cruz, CA, USA show that the system is a viable and useful tool for wildlife research.


Wireless CommunicationStatic NodeMobile NodeNatural HabitatSystem Application

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Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Computer Engineering, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, USA
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, USA
Department of Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, USA


© Matthew Rutishauser et al. 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.