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 (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

Image credits

We thank our brilliant photographer colleagues for the photos on the home page:

White storks (About us): Christian Ziegler

Fieldwork (News): Christian Ziegler

Radio tracking (Get started): Rob Nelson

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