FIMTrack: An open source tracking and locomotion analysis software for small animals

PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 May 11;13(5):e1005530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005530. eCollection 2017 May.


Imaging and analyzing the locomotion behavior of small animals such as Drosophila larvae or C. elegans worms has become an integral subject of biological research. In the past we have introduced FIM, a novel imaging system feasible to extract high contrast images. This system in combination with the associated tracking software FIMTrack is already used by many groups all over the world. However, so far there has not been an in-depth discussion of the technical aspects. Here we elaborate on the implementation details of FIMTrack and give an in-depth explanation of the used algorithms. Among others, the software offers several tracking strategies to cover a wide range of different model organisms, locomotion types, and camera properties. Furthermore, the software facilitates stimuli-based analysis in combination with built-in manual tracking and correction functionalities. All features are integrated in an easy-to-use graphical user interface. To demonstrate the potential of FIMTrack we provide an evaluation of its accuracy using manually labeled data. The source code is available under the GNU GPLv3 at and pre-compiled binaries for Windows and Mac are available at

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Computational Biology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Software*

Grant support

This work has been partially supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Cluster of Excellence EXC 1003, Cells in Motion, CiM, Münster, Germany (PP-2014-05, FF-2016-06, CIM-IMPRS fellowship to NO). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.