Our Lab is interested in various aspects of feeding behavior ranging from searching over decision making to the physiological response to food of different composition. We established a maze type paradigm to get a quantitative insight into the foraging and decision making process of Drosophila. In the search for a deeper understanding of the processes underlying the decision making we wanted to track small groups of fruit flies individually during their search. We faced two problems at once, one was the lack of experience in the tracking field, and the other was that our setup was considerably different from the standard assays which are commonly used.

After reviewing several commercially available and free academic tracking software solutions, we found the VIEWER from BIOBSERVE to be superior in most aspects of tracking compared to others. One important point for us was that our lab has no history and experience in multitasking of animals. The time required to adapt the VIEWER to our needs was remarkably shorter compared to other software tested. The VIEWER is without question, a very valuable tool for both novices as well as for experts due to its self explaining and intuitive arrangement of menus.

There are some features that i would like to mention due to their uniqueness and helpfulness:

BIOBSERVE was both very open to our suggestions and also offered solutions for problems that appeared during the process of establishing the setup. It is worth to be noted that the hints were all very practical right out of first-hand experience of a couple of specialists. A very helpful feature of the software was the Track-correction feature that allowed to correct for false points after tracking and immediate re-analysis of the corrected data. Also its capability to „simulate“ older grid based tracking, makes it very attractive, because it enables the user to reanalyze „old“ data for comparison.

Additionally the expandability with custom plug-ins offers a degree of customization that makes many small annoying problems of everyday research easier. One additional feature I would like to point out is the fact that the positional data are displayed as „graphs“ during the tracking process and can also be saved as pictures. This makes analysis much faster and the results almost immediately accessible to interpretation. There is no need to spend hours of analysis after the experiment. Last but not least every question that appeared regarding the usage the software was immediately answered by the Biobserve team which helped us to get used to to the software as well as to tracking itself. The software is robust but also very flexible. Overall a very recommendable software for all aspects of animal tracking.

Dr. David Richter
Universität Bonn
LIMES, Molecular Brain Physiology and Behaviour Development, Genetics & Molecular Physiology Unit
Poppelsdorfer Schloß
53115 Bonn, Germany