The BearID Project

Melanie Clapham_006

The conservation of nature is of global importance and scientists are responsible for monitoring these changes, from wildlife populations to landscapes. Tasked with this huge challenge, scientists are turning to new technologies to provide tools that aid in the collection and analysis of data required to better understand wildlife and monitor trends. The BearID Project uses machine learning techniques, to develop software tools that can identify bears from both images and videos, starting with individual ID using face recognition. By combining this technique with camera trap imagery, we are aiming to provide a new survey technique for use in the research and monitoring of wild bears.

I am a co-founder and co-director of the BearID Project, and its development and application has formed the basis of my postdoctoral research. Find out more at, and find scientific outputs from this project under Publications.


Community-Driven Wildlife Monitoring

In 2018, I began working with the Indigenous Guardian programs of Nanwakolas Council member First Nations. The collective aim was to bring together tools in Western Science, namely camera trapping, with local and Indigenous Knowledge to provide ecological data that can be used by Nations to inform decision-making regarding species and landscapes. This also provided a reciprocal training and partnership opportunity. Through this multi-Nation approach (Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network), we aim to monitor wildlife populations and track individuals across territorial boundaries in an area collectively known as the southern Great Bear Rainforest. Read more about this partnership here.


Behavioural Ecology of Bears

My field research career began studying chemical communication in brown bears. I used camera trap videos and forest inventories to examine the ecology and social function of brown bear scent marking behaviour. This was one of the first projects to use camera trap imagery in this manner to acquire behavioural data on mammalian scent communication. 

I continue to work in this field in a supervisory role for a PhD examining chemical signalling in Andean bears, and co-leading research investigating the chemical components of brown bear skin-borne secretions to advance our interpretation of the function of this behaviour for a solitary, non-territorial mammal.

Find scientific outputs from this project under Publications.