Alberto P. Soto, Theodora Po, and Matthew J. McHenry

Biologists commonly visualize different features of an organism using distinct sources of illumination. Such multichannel imaging has largely not been applied to behavioral studies because of the challenges posed by a moving subject. We address this challenge with the technique of multichannel stroboscopic videography (MSV), which synchronizes multiple strobe lights with video exposures of a single camera. We illustrate the utility of this approach with kinematic measurements of a walking cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) and calculations of the pressure field around a swimming fish (Danio rerio). In both, transmitted illumination generated high-contrast images of the animal’s body in one channel. Other sources of illumination were used to visualize the points of contact for the feet of the cockroach and the water flow around the fish in separate channels. MSV provides an enhanced potential for high-throughput experimentation and the capacity to integrate changes in physiological or environmental conditions in freely-behaving animals.

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