About Movebank

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Movebank is a free online platform that helps researchers manage, share, analyze and archive animal movement data. Movebank is hosted by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (formerly the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology) in coordination with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Ohio State University and the University of Konstanz. Movebank works with many partners including government agencies, universities and conservation organizations and is intended to serve as a global archive for animal movement and bio-logging data. Movebank has long-term (>20 years) funding through the Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz and has been developed with support from the National Science Foundation, the German Aerospace Center, the German Science Foundation and NASA.

Movebank has over 20,000 users including thousands of data owners from universities, government agencies, and other research and conservation groups around the world. It is open to all researchers and organizations regardless of species, study area or source of funding. Movebank users retain ownership of their data and can choose whether and when to make their data available to the public. We encourage collaborations to re-use animal tracking data and give it a second life.

Movebank's database is designed for locations of individual animals over time, commonly referred to as tracking data, and of measurements collected by other bio-logging sensors attached to animals, as well as information about animals, tags and deployments. Movebank has grown dramatically since its inception, due to the increasing number of users as well as advances in technology that allow the collection of increasingly high-resolution data.

As of March 2020, Movebank includes

  • 2.4 billion locations
  • 3.2 billion non-location events
  • 7,662 studies
  • 989 taxa

The Movebank Data Repository allows researchers to submit data stored in Movebank for publication. Submissions undergo a review process and receive a persistent identifier (DOI) and data license and are archived online by the Communication, Information, Media Centre of the University of Konstanz.

Background

Information about animal movement is important to the field of movement ecology and to addressing challenges such as climate and land use change, biodiversity loss, invasive species, wildlife trafficking and infectious disease. Advances in technology allow researchers to collect increasing volumes of animal-borne sensor data. However, working with these datasets remains a challenge due to a lack of standards for data transfer and storage and the growing size and complexity of multi-sensor datasets. Many datasets remain undiscoverable, poorly documented and may exist only on personal computers or in obsolete formats, particularly older work critical to assessing change over time. The Movebank project started in 2007 and was designed to help researchers effectively manage and publicly archive these unique data.

Goals

The goals of Movebank are to

  • archive animal movement data for future use, as controlled by the data owners.
  • enable collaborations between researchers, students, conservation organizations and governments who are interested in animal movement.
  • help scientists address new questions by combining datasets to test ideas related to ecological patterns, evolutionary processes and disease spread.
  • promote open access to animal movement data, in particular when the data collection is publicly funded.
  • allow the public to explore the amazing animal movements recorded by animal trackers.

Funding

Movebank has long-term support from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, the Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz. Additional funding has come from

  • Baden-Württemberg Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst (Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Art)
  • FAIRsFAIR Project
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR) award for the ICARUS Ground Segment (50JR1601)
  • German Research Foundation (DFG) (AOBJ 576687)
  • The Knobloch Family Foundation
  • NASA Earth Science Division, Ecological Forecasting Program (projects NNX11AP61G and NNX15AT91A)
  • National Geographic
  • US National Science Foundation Division of Biological Infractructure (awards 0756920 and 1564380)

Current developments

Ongoing projects at Movebank include

  • our new role as the user data center for the ICARUS animal tracking system
  • the Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA) for assessing animal movement patterns in Arctic and Subarctic regions
  • an R-shiny-based analysis platform to use and contribute tools for analyzing data in Movebank's format

We continue to add support for additional tracking methods and data providers. Please send questions and feedback to support@movebank.org.

Citing Movebank

To cite data in Movebank that belongs to others, see our citation guidelines, the general Movebank Terms of Use and user agreement.

To cite the use of the Movebank platform, please use either or both of these citations:

Wikelski M, Davidson SC, Kays R [year]. Movebank: archive, analysis and sharing of animal movement data. Hosted by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. www.movebank.org, accessed on [date].

Kranstauber B, Cameron A, Weinzierl R, Fountain T, Tilak S, Wikelski M, Kays R (2011) The Movebank data model for animal tracking. Environmental Modelling & Software 26(6): 834–835. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2010.12.005

Homepage credits

Photos

White storks (About us): Christian Ziegler

Fieldwork (News): Christian Ziegler

Radio tracking (Get started): Rob Nelson

Animation

The animation was created by 422 South using data from real tracked animals stored on Movebank. This animation follows white stork (Ciconia ciconia) nestlings and families migrating from Germany across the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert to wintering grounds in Africa. Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) range across the Loita Plains, Athi-Kaputiei Plains and Amboseli Basin of Kenya and Tanzania, and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and elephants (Loxodonta africana) travel through Kruger National Park, South Africa. As spring returns, the white storks migrate back north to Europe.

This video is licensed under CC BY 4.0 and may be used with attribution. We suggest the following citation:

422 South and Movebank (2020) The wonders of animal tracking. Data from Boone RB, Bowers JA, Buss P, Cross PC, du Toit JT, Eggers U, Eid B, Fiedler W, Flack A, Getz WM, Hay CT, Hofmeyr M, Jeltsch F, Kaatz M, Keeves B, Leppelsack E, Leppelsack H, Lilieholm RJ, Nathan R, Ogutu JO, Quetting M, Reid RS, Rotics S, Sapir N, Schäfle W, Schmid H, Slotow R, Stabach J, Stahl T, Thaker M, Turjeman S, Vanak AT, Wieding O, Wikelski M, Wolhuter J, Worden JS, Zurell D, stored at https://movebank.org. https://youtu.be/0SbZfLOUcj0

The data shown come from the following studies:

Study Eastern flyway spring migration of adult white storks (data from Rotics et al. 2018)
Rotics S, Kaatz M, Turjeman S, Zurell D, Wikelski M, Sapir N, Eggers U, Fiedler W, Jeltsch F, Nathan R (2018) Data from: Early arrival at breeding grounds: causes, costs and a trade-off with overwintering latitude. Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.v8d24552

Study Kruger African Buffalo, GPS tracking, South Africa
Cross PC, Bowers JA, Hay CT, Wolhuter J, Buss P, Hofmeyr M, du Toit JT, Getz WM (2016) Data from: Nonparameteric kernel methods for constructing home ranges and utilization distributions. Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.j900f88t

Study LifeTrack White Stork Bavaria
Fiedler W, Leppelsack E, Leppelsack H, Stahl T, Wieding O, Wikelski M (2019) Data from: Study "LifeTrack White Stork Bavaria" (2014-2019). Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.v1cs4nn0

Study LifeTrack White Stork SW Germany
Fiedler W, Flack A, Schäfle W, Keeves B, Quetting M, Eid B, Schmid H, Wikelski M (2019) Data from: Study "LifeTrack White Stork SW Germany" (2013-2019). Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.ck04mn78

Study ThermochronTracking Elephants Kruger 2007
Slotow R, Thaker M, Vanak AT (2019) Data from: Fine-scale tracking of ambient temperature and movement reveals shuttling behavior of elephants to water. Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.403h24q5

Study Wildebeest (White-bearded) Connochaetes taurinus Kenya-Many
Stabach JS, Hughey L, Reid RS, Worden JS, Leimgruber P, Boone RB (in prep) Comparison of movement strategies of three populations of white-bearded wildebeest.

Contacts

Dr. Roland Kays, Movebank PI, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University: roland.kays@naturalsciences.org

Dr. Martin Wikelski, Movebank PI, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz: wikelski@ab.mpg.de

Dr. Gil Bohrer, PI for the Env-DATA System, the Ohio State University: bohrer.17@osu.edu

Sarah Davidson, Movebank PI and Data Curator, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior: sdavidson@ab.mpg.de

General questions and feedback: support@movebank.org