Endangered animal species will be preserved thanks to photographs of tourists

(ORDO NEWS) — Pictures that travelers post on social media will help scientists get information about endangered animals. Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that searches for and analyzes publicly available images of rare species of animals.

Scientists from Ohio State University (USA) have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze photos of zebras, sharks, whales and other animals that tourists post on social networks after returning from vacation. The system will not only help to identify and track rare species of animals, but will also help to better understand their movement patterns and track population trends.

One of the biggest problems environmentalists face is the lack of data on many endangered and endangered species. Biodiversity is rapidly declining, and scientists do not even know the pace of this process.

Of the more than 142,000 species listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the status of half is unknown due to lack of information. The use of satellite tags and GPS collars allows tracking only single individuals, but does not give an idea of ​​the whole population.

At the same time, there are millions of photos of endangered species on the Internet taken by scientists, tourists, camera traps and drones. These images contain information that can be extracted and analyzed. For this, scientists used artificial intelligence.

The new system, called Wildbook , searches for and analyzes photos posted in the public domain. The algorithm determines the type of animal and the number of individuals caught in the frame, and for this it needs a pattern of spots, a tail or a fin. Now Wildbook contains about two million photos of more than 60,000 animals from around the world. Among them are sharks, whales, zebras, turtles, giraffes, large predators and so on.

Image analysis gives an idea of ​​the number and dynamics of populations, ranges of species, social interactions of animals with relatives and other species, including humans.

In addition, artificial intelligence learns to see characteristics in images that are difficult for humans to track: for example, it can determine whether the pattern of a zebra cub is similar to the color of its mother, or understand how the structure of bat skulls changes depending on environmental conditions.

However, scientists warn that with the development of technology, it will be especially important to ensure the safety and ethics of AI. For example, the analyzed data must be protected so that it cannot be used by poachers.

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