Import supported standard formats

Movebank can automatically read and import many common formats, allowing users to import data in just a few steps. You can also import custom tabular data files or subscribe to data feeds.

We recommend checking data after import to ensure quality control. If you receive an error during import and are unsure of the cause, see here for solutions to common formatting issues. Contact support@movebank.org for further assistance.

Begin all imports by going to the Studies page and selecting your study. Then follow the instructions below.

Import supported GPS and accelerometer formats

Movebank can automatically read and import the following GPS and accelerometer data formats:

  • e-obs GPS and accelerometer data: logger.bin files from e-obs GPS and accelerometer tags
  • GeoTrak GPS data: data files with GeoTrak GPS data encoded in the Argos DS format
  • KoEco GPS data: data files from KoEco in .csv format
  • Lotek GPS data: data files from GPS tags from Lotek GPS_4000 series and later
  • Microwave GPS data: raw DS or .csv files from PTT-GPS tags from Microwave Telemetry
  • Lotek NZ (formerly Sirtrack) GPS data: data files from GPS tags from Sirtrack logger collars
  • TechnoSmart GPS and accelerometer data: data files in Gipsy-4, Gypsy-5 and Axi-Trek formats from TechnoSmart. (Files must be exported from TechnoSmart's software in the Movebank-specific format as described in their user manual.)

To import data in one of the supported standard formats listed above,

  • Go to your study and select Upload data > Import data > GPS data.
  • Select the desired format.
  • Choose the file to upload and select Upload. In some cases you will have two options:
    • Upload as a background process: Data are imported with no further user input (can be preferred for large files).
    • Interactive upload: The user can preview the data prior to import to view and customize how attributes are mapped.

If you chose to upload as a background process, after selecting OK the import will begin and you will see the File Details for the new file indicating the Import status. If it is a large file, this will say "pending".

  • To check on the import status, click Refresh or return to the File Details later. Once it is complete, you will see a summary of the imported data.
  • To view the imported data select Data > Show in map.

If you chose an interactive upload, after selecting OK the upload interface (shown below) will appear. It displays two tables that show the content of your file as Movebank sees it and a preview of how it will be saved in Movebank. You can also preview the data in a map view. Use these previews to ensure that your data are interpreted correctly. If your file matches the standard format exactly, your attributes will be correctly mapped under How Movebank will save the data. If there are slight differences, you may need to make corrections—for example, change the CSV parameter settings if your file uses a different delimiter, specify units if they have been converted, or add additional attributes you may have in your file. For more information, see the instructions for importing custom tabular data.

Import Argos data

Argos provides Doppler-based location estimates, along with a set of diagnostic variables, in a format common to all Argos tags (PTTs).

To automatically import DIAG text files from Argos,

  • Select Upload data > Import data > Argos Doppler data > raw Argos Diag data.

  • Select Browse and navigate to your file. Next, choose to

    • Upload as a background process: Data are imported with no further user input (can be preferred for large files).
    • Interactive upload: The user can preview the data prior to import to view and customize how attributes are mapped.

To import Argos data that has been converted to tabular data files,

  • Select Upload data > Import data > Argos Doppler data > processed Argos data (csv format). This format is configured to handle Argos' diagnostic variables, and will attempt to automatically map them to Movebank attributes. These variables include

In addition, you can import the Argos error radius, GDOP, satellite ID, and error ellipse parameters.

To map file columns that are not automatically mapped, see instructions for importing custom tabular data. For more about Argos' data formats and parameters see the Argos user manual.

After importing Argos Doppler-based locations, you can use filters to improve location estimates and exclude low-quality locations.

Note: Missing DIAG values: If your data files no longer contain all the DIAG variables, but you want to use the Argos filters, see here for recommended filler values that should be mapped while preparing the data import.

Note: Argos timestamps: The Argos user manual states that day and time are provided in UTC. We are aware of one exception to this: If you download your data from www.argos-system.org, you will be asked to select a time zone (the default is GMT). If you select a time zone other than GMT or UTC, any data you download will have the day and time in the chosen time zone, including daylight savings time when applicable. Once the data have been downloaded in this format, the file contains no information to indicate that the day and time are not in UTC. Therefore, there is no way for Movebank to automatically detect this and correct for the time difference. If you have obtained Argos data in this way using a local time zone, you will need to convert the timestamps to UTC prior to importing them to Movebank.

Import solar geolocator data

Movebank can automatically read .trj files output by the BirdTracker software used to process data from archival solar (light-level) geolocators developed by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Lotek UK (formerly Biotrack). This option also accepts other comma-delimited files in the same format. For more information on .trj files please contact Lotek.

To import these files,

  • Select Upload data > Import data > Processed solar geolocator data > BAS trajectory data.
  • To complete the upload, you will only need to define the animal and/or tag associated with the data file.

If you have changed the format of BirdTracker output data, begin the import by selecting Import data > Other location data and follow the instructions for importing custom tabular data.

About the latitudes: Movebank maps the BirdTracker attribute "stationary latitude" to Movebank's location lat attribute, and also maps the BirdTracker's stationary and compensated latitudes to the BAS-specific attributes BAS compensated latitude and [BAS stationary latitude]((http://vocab.nerc.ac.uk/collection/MVB/current/MVB000060/).

Note: When storing geolocator data on Movebank, we recommend also storing the original light-level data and twilight selections as described in the light-level geolocation analyses manual (Lisovski et al. 2019).

Next steps


Create a study and add data

Create a study

Create and manage live data feeds

  GSM, Iridium and ICARUS feeds

  Argos feeds

  Live feed notifications

Import supported data formats

Import custom tabular data

Add reference data

Update existing data

Upload file attachments

Help with data uploads