The study of animal behavior has been revolutionized by sophisticated methodologies that identify and track individuals in video recordings. Video recording of behavior, however, is challenging for many species and habitats including fishes that live in turbid water. Here we present a methodology for identifying and localizing weakly electric fishes on the centimeter scale with subsecond temporal resolution based solely on the electric signals generated by each individual. These signals are recorded with a grid of electrodes and analyzed using a two-part algorithm that identifies the signals from each individual fish and then estimates the position and orientation of each fish using Bayesian inference. Interestingly, because this system involves eavesdropping on electrocommunication signals, it permits monitoring of complex social and physical interactions in the wild. This approach has potential for large-scale non-invasive monitoring of aquatic habitats in the Amazon basin and other tropical freshwater systems.
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