Radio Frequency Tag Tracking

We use a hardware system developed by PhenoSyS, GmbH (Berlin, Germany) to constantly track the position of rodents in their homecage. This technology relies on radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags that are implanted into all animals in our facility for permanent, unique identification (figure 1). These tags communicate with readers arranged in a grid underneath the home cage (figure 2) and record the animals' position and movement throughout the circadian period. This provides high resolution (the readers record position at 200Hz), and high fidelity (the failure rate of each reader is negligible) information on the position of each animal in the homecage throughout the circadian period. All of these data are automatically recorded in a CSV file (figure 3). We are currently working with teams of mathematicians and computer scientists at UMW to construct algorithms that will translate these positional data into complex ethograms - i.e. infer species specific social and individual behaviors from an animal's movement in relation to inanimate items in the cage  (e.g., housing, food hopper), and in relation to its social partners.

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