The use of digital video recorders in pollination biology
1. Digital video recording (DVR) devices, such as the GoPro Hero, have the potential to greatly benefit pollination ecology, but the advantages of digitally recording pollinator activity over direct human observation have not been formally assessed.
2. Two plant taxa, Lavandula angustifolia and Canna 'sp.', with differing floral morphology, were used to compare the value of DVR and direct observations in estimating honeybee (Apis mellifera) visitation, flower density and number of flowers visited per foraging bout.
3. The two methods yielded identical results when observing the structurally simple L. angustifolia at both high (10.54±0.52 per plant) and low honeybee density (2.24±0.20 per plant). However, DVR underestimated the number of flowers scored in the field of view (28.7±1.8 direct vs. 22.7±0.9 DVR), the number of honeybees observed (5.3±0.8 direct vs. 3.7±0.7 DVR) and the number of flowers visited during foraging bouts (8.3±1.2 direct vs. 5.5±1.0 DVR) on the more complex Canna 'sp.'
4. It is concluded that portable weatherproof DVR devices such as the GoPro Hero are valuable tools for pollination biologists, allowing a single researcher to make simultaneous observations of multiple plants in one or more sites, whilst also allowing the footage to be reviewed. However, DVR devices are limited by their depth and field of view when target plants are large or structurally complex.