Beta release, November 2022

The Environmental COntextual-Data And TrAk (ECODATA) Prepare and Animate apps are free tools to support data exploration and analysis:

  • ECODATA-Prepare processes remote sensing data with Python for subsequent analysis.
  • ECODATA-Animate is a MATLAB® App that visualizes data prepared by ECODATA-Prepare to visualize animal movements with environmental background layers in static and animated maps.


ECODATA-Prepare is a set of Python-based apps to access and process remote sensing and other environmental data products and prepare them for further use along with animal movement data. Output from ECODATA Prepare is designed to be used as input of environmental data layers for ECODATA-Animate, and can also be used as input to resource, habitat and step selection models.

Within ECODATA-Prepare,

  • The Tracks Explorer App visualizes movement track location points and point densities with several static maps, allows selecting a spatial frame around the track points that is relevant for analysis, and prepares a .geojson file that can be used in the NASA EARTHDATA AppEEARS interface to extract many different remote sensing data products within the research area. This app also provides the location coordinates of the frame around the research area, which can be used to request data from ECMWF or many other environmental data sources, which can be converted to NetCDF format if needed for further steps described below.

  • The Gridded Data Explorer App allows you to interpolate and subset the temporal and spatial resolutions of environmental data in the form of a temporal stack (or single static map) NetCDF file. It can also read in several other data formats (which could be resaved as NetCDF). You can also read GIS polygons as shapefiles, and mask the environmental data outside or inside the polygons. It subsequently calculates data summaries by period and polygon.

  • The Subsetter App allows you to clip relevant features out of large shapefiles.

  • The Movie Maker App produces an animation file out of a stack of static maps that can be used as input to the ECODATA-Animate program.

Try it out: Instructions to install Anaconda (for Python) and install and run the program are at

Documentation is under development at


ECODATA-Animate is a MATLAB® program for creating animated maps of animal movements along with additional layers.

Inputs to ECODATA-Animate include

  • A file of movement track data in Movebank format (required). This can include additional columns such as environmental covariates annotated by Env-DATA or reference data attributes, and can include tracking data combined from multiple Movebank studies.

  • 1-2 static and/or dynamic rasters (maps) in NETCDF-4 format (optional). One will be displayed as a colormap, the other with contour lines.

  • GIS shapefiles, lines or polygons (optional).

  • Lists of points to label on the map in .csv format (optional). Files must contain columns "longitude", "latitude" and "label" to indicate where each label's method and placement on the map, using coordinates in decimal degrees, WGS84 coordinate reference system. If present, the additional columns "startdate" and "enddate" can be used to restrict the display of the label to a range of dates.

  • In addition, ECODATA-Animate allows you to include elevation contours using the default mapping database (optional), which does not require input of DEM data.

ECODATA-Prepare can be used to prepare environmental data for use as input for ECODATA-Animate. Specifically, use ECODATA-Prepare to subset the environmental data to the track area, interpolate the environmental data to the temporal resolution of the movement tracks, coarsen the environmental data, mask the environmental data using custom polygons, and subset large shapefiles.

Results of ECODATA-Animate include a stack of high-resolution time-stepped static .png images for inspecting conditions at individual timepoints, or to be used as a collection to create an animation (using the ECODATA-Prepare Movie Maker, or other movie-making tools).

Try it out: Installers are available at

  • Download the Windows or Mac installer. Each contains two files: and
  • If you do not have MATLAB® installed on your computer, first run the MyAppInstaller file to install MATLAB® runtime.
  • Once MATLAB® runtime is installed, open ECODATA_Animate. It may take a minute to open. You can then select input data and visualization options to use as input to the animation through an interactive interface.

Documentation is under development at


These applications are being developed by Justine Missik and Gil Bohrer at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at the Ohio State University. Development is supported by MathWorks® and the NASA Earth Science Division, Ecological Forecasting Program. The applications are released in beta, therefore errors and bugs are expected. Your feedback on how the programs work with your data and operating system are greatly appreciated.

Please submit bug reports and feature requests here:

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