Web recognition system can identify spider species automatically

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-03-30

An orb weaver spider web.
There could be a way to speedily identify the different species of spider that are found in dense jungle and forest, using an automatic web recognition system.

Usually, working out which spiders are which can be a cumbersone, long-winded process, involving tweezers and specimen jars and many hours under a bright lamp in the case of rare and unusual species. A team from the signals and communications department of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, led by Jaime Ticay-Rivas, decided to instead use a spider's web as a kind of "biometric identification" to automate the process.

Using photographs of spider webs taken in Costa Rica and Panama, the team applied various image clarification techniques to isolate the shape of the web. Those techniques include principal component analysis, independent component analysis, discrete cosine transform and wavelet transform—basically, techniques that identify the key, most distinctive part of the centre of a web by isolating it from the background "noise" in the image. Then, it correlates that with characteristics found in the rest of the web to further narrow the range of possibly species.

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