4 Replies Latest reply on Jan 10, 2012 8:29 AM by Makena05

    Creating a database for behavior changes in animals



      Creating a database for behavior changes in animals



      I'm stuck in the setup of a database that will be used to track behavior changes in animals.  Basically we are trying to convert what used to be tracked with columns and rows by pen and paper, to a filemaker database.  What typically happens is in a 24 hour period, employees will monitor the behavior of (for an example) 30 animals.  Every 30 minutes, they will record what each animal is doing (ex. eating, sleeping, playing, etc).  When this was done on pen and paper, the recorders would have a different sheet of paper for every 30 minutes of tracking.

      I want to convert this into a database and I'm stumped on how to set it up.  I was going to have every 30 minutes just be a new record and have the form view as rows and columns.  Another idea that sounded better was to create the database with just a bunch of list views (one for each 30 minute period), but I quickly realized that wouldn't work because as soon as the next 30 minute monitoring session started, it would overwrite the status (records) of each animal from the previous session.

      Any good ideas out there on how to setup something like this?

      Thanks in advance.

        • 1. Re: Creating a database for behavior changes in animals

          There are many ways to set this up. Could you post a 'mock up' of what the paper and pencil form looks like?

          Presumably you'd need at least this table structure to start:


          Animals::AnimalID = Observations::AnimalID

          You might find it easier to record your observations if you had this structure:


          TimeInterval::TimeIntID = Observations:::TimeIntervalID
          Animals::AnimalID = Observations::AnimalID

          Both list view layouts and form view layouts are possible here. Portals can be used to produce mutliple columns of fields for data entry purposes.

          • 2. Re: Creating a database for behavior changes in animals

            Thanks for the reply.  I've attached an image of the final output they would like to see (I don't have a written copy but this is how they want it to look when they enter it in).  Also, I'm not sure what you mean by Animals---<Observations>----TimeInterval  Could you please explain it with more details?


            Note:  the first column would be animal ID and the R, S, E, etc stands for what they are doing (resting, sleeping, eating, etc)

            • 3. Re: Creating a database for behavior changes in animals


              is a simplified ER diagram in text format. It lists three tables and the type of relationships linking them. ---< stands for one to many.

              Thanks for posting the example as I had pictured something a bit different. I gather that the columns shown to the right are different observed behaviors. (L = lying down, E = sleeping...)

              Given that format, I'm now thinking in a different direction. The simplest approach to set up would be to use a list view layout based on Observations. Either a check box group formatted field or a set of individual fields could be used to record the behavior observations. Individual fields for each behavior with check box field formats that enter a one if the checkbox is clicked would make for simple data entry and you can then use summary fields to do statistical analysis (totals, averages, standard deviation...) of each behavior.

              You'd use the other option I posted:


              You'd use a script to automatically create one new Observation record for each animal in the study. The script would enter the observation time (no need for a minutes field a single time field will record both hour and minutes) for each such reocrd. Thus your researchers would click on different columns to record behavior for each animal, then click a button (or use an InstallOnTimer script) as each time interval expires to generate a new set of observation records. The script can hide the previous set of records from view.

              Note that there are details of this script we have not yet discussed as they depend on the rest of what you need to do with this database. It's possible to use this one database system to manage multiple animal behavior studies and the same animal, if appropriate, could be used in more than one such study without having to duplicate that animal's record in the animals table.


              • 4. Re: Creating a database for behavior changes in animals

                Thanks for the response.  It seems that this is way over my head.  I'll see if I can get something started and let you know if I figure it out.  Thanks again!