Event Recorder Information System (ERIS)
Last updated: 960822
Wesley R. Elsberry & Diane J. Blackwood (Marine Bioacoustic Laboratory, TAMUG, 5007 Ave. U, Galveston, TX 77553 USA)
(Presented at the 1996 Conference of the Animal Behavior Society, Flagstaff, Arizona, 4 August 1996.)
The need to record concurrent behaviors from multiple focal animal follows and focal animal follows combined with human interactions drove the development of a an event recording information system (ERIS). The capabilities of this software system include simultaneous recording on two platforms with a serial link, the configuration of user-defined tokens both from menus and from a file, and the specification of a time base for recording. The system was used for analysis of acoustic recordings of lekking male Greater Prairie Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) and videotapes of a stranded male Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Stenella frontalis). Recording prairie chicken vocalizations required the use of user-defined tokens for quick response. Recording the correlation of dolphin behavior with human movement patterns required the capacity for multiple observer use. The use of user-defined tokens brings the issue of lexical analysis into specification of behavioral codes. A hierarchical approach to naming behavioral codes was used for the dolphin behavior project. The ERIS software is freely available.
We used ERIS in making an analysis of vocalizations of lekking male Greater Prairie Chickens (GPC) (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus Brewster). We worked from acoustic recordings made while two males were actively vocalizing, with occasional vocalizations from a third male. Tokens were defined for start and end of booms and cackles, and another for pwoiks. The time course of pwoiks was too brief to accord it a duration.
The raw timestamp/token data file was processed using a custom Perl script to extract boom and cackle durations and frequencies of interruptions. This data was imported into an Excel spreadsheet, where chi square and Freeman-Tukey deviate statistics were calculated.
We used ERIS for analyzing the movement patterns and association of vocalizations with time for a rehabilitating stranded Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis). The source was videotape taken from a monitor camera that was suspended above the recovery pool, where acoustic information from a hydrophone in the pool was recorded on an audio track of the videotape. Two observers watched the video and recorded simultaneously.
There were a wide variety of events and behaviors that we wished to record. An initial list of codes was generated. That list proved too difficult for practical use, as each token was arbitrarily named. A second list of codes was generated, this time using a hierarchical approach to naming. All vocalization codes had an initial 'S' (sound) character, all movement codes had an initial 'K' (kinetic) character, and so forth. The advantages of using a hierarchical naming system follow from the ease of remembering the complete set of codes coupled with the early-binding of timestamps. The user's first keypress for any token need only classify the broad code type, and further time for completion of the token does not influence the timestamp value.
Again, the raw timestamp/token data was processed using a custom Perl script to produce output suitable for import into an Excel spreadsheet.
We wish to thank many people for their assistance in making the research and tool production possible.
Event Recorder Information System license and warranty ------------------------------------------------------ Event Recorder Information System (ERIS) Copyright 1995 by Wesley R. Elsberry and Diane J. Blackwood This software is Citation-ware. The Event Recorder Information System is licensed for free non-commercial or research use, under the conditions that the copyright information is retained unaltered and that the program authors are recognized in any published work arising from data collected using this program. Appropriate recognition would be to cite our presentation of Event Recorder Information System. Commercial users should contact the authors concerning additional terms and conditions which apply. This program comes with NO WARRANTY. There is no expressed or implied warranty. The user assumes all risks of use. Example of citation: "Behavioral data was recorded using IBM PC compatible laptops and the Event Recorder Information System (Elsberry & Blackwood 1995). [...] Elsberry, WR, & Blackwood, DJ. 1995. Cetacean behavior event recording using multiple observers. Eleventh Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals (Orlando, Forida 1995)." Event Recorder Information System (ERIS) ---------------------------------------- Welcome to Event Recorder Information System, a program designed to aid in behavioral analysis using continuous recording. The first thing that one should know about any program is how to leave it, so to close any Help dialog (like this one), hit the Escape (ESC) key. To close an ERIS interface window, type Alt-F3 (hold down the ALT key, then press the third function key once). To exit the program entirely, type Alt-X. What use is an event recorder? An event recorder associates particular user inputs with a time stamp. When the user input is a representation of behavior, this allows analysis of temporal sequences of behaviors. Event recording can be used in place of a data entry sheet for time sampled behaviors, but probably is most useful for those cases where continuous recording is desired. All user entered data is stored in a plain ASCII file. The user must specify the filename before ERIS will note and store user input. For more information on behavioral analysis and alternative techniques of behavioral data acquisition, the user is directed to Martin & Bateson's "Measuring Animal Behavior" and Jean Altmann's 1974 paper on the topic. See the bibliography for details. Other event recorder programs exist, some are sold commercially. Entering Data ------------- Once the user has named a data file, Event Recorder Information System begins sending user entered data to that file. The ERIS interface has two major windows: the Control Record and the Output Record. The Control Record shows various information and status messages. The Output Record shows the data which has already been sent to the data file. Both windows are scrollable, so the user can scrollback to see previous messages or output data. As the user enters keystrokes, a string is built up. The current value of the user entered string is shown in the Control Record window. At the first keypress, the current timer time is noted and retained for storage with the eventual completed user string. With each new character, the user string is compared to the list of token values. If a match is found, then the program recognizes that a token has been entered, and performs processing according to the class of the token. While entering a string, certain characters are interpreted differently. A backspace character or a delete character will erase the last entered character in the string. The escape character will erase the entire string and prepare for a new user string to be entered, including a new time stamp. Other keys are used by the program interface for accomplishing functions. F1 - Shortcut key for online Help F3 - Shortcut key for Record to file Alt-F3 - Close the currently focussed window Alt-X - Exit ERIS immediately F6 - Move the focus to another window Backspace - When no input is currently being built, erases last data item. Recording to file ----------------- The Event Recorder Information System recognizes tokens only when a file is specified for recording times and tokens. Selecting this menu item allows the user to specify the name of the file to record data to. The default extension for these files is 'DAT'. All data is stored as separate lines of an ASCII text file. This allows for easy import into other applications for analysis of the data. To allow for erasure of the last entered input item, the latest user token is stored in memory. Entering another token causes ERIS to write the previous token to the output file. At program exit, the final user token is written to the output file. Read Configuration File ----------------------- The Event Recorder Information System can use a file containing often used tokens and log file commentary. This menu item allows the user to specify a file name of a configuration file. The configuration file is a text file which consists of lines that are examined for certain keywords and associated tokens, or for comments to be passed directly into the data file. In order for comments to be placed into the data file, the data file must be specified before the configuration file is read. Reading the configuration file before opening the data file will still set the appropriate tokens, but any log tag lines will be ignored. Currently recgonized tags: COMMENT
[comments] Example: COMMENT \ use the backslash character to specify a comment EVENT [comments] Example: EVENT sw Sound Whistle vocalization STATE [comments] ERASE [comments] LOG