January 2018 Newsletter

Dear Movebank users,

We want to start off the new year by sharing some of what happened at Movebank during 2017. We saw continued growth as well as examples of valuable insights that can be gained through the sharing and re-use of animal movement data. Movebank now contains over 600 million animal locations and over 1.1 billion measurements from non-location sensors such as acceleration bursts and light levels from geolocators. Data are stored in nearly 4,200 studies and represent movements of 756 taxa all over the world—these studies are managed and owned by over 5,000 people, many of whom have new information coming in daily from over 800 active data feeds.

Archiving data and enabling collaborations

Movebank is used by many as a tool for managing ongoing research, and is also growing as a source of completed and documented datasets. Data underlying over 260 research publications going back to as far as 1975 are stored in publicly visible Movebank studies. The Movebank Data Repository now contains 94 curated and publicly archived datasets that underlie 118 peer-reviewed papers, published in 50 journals by 371 data authors. Many other studies are not publicly visible but are shared with other researchers as part of ongoing work. Examples of research outcomes from sharing data through Movebank include

  • An analysis of marine and terrestrial animal movements by Abrahms et al. (2017) that identifies simple metrics for classifying common movement patterns across vertebrate taxa.
  • Assessments of how animals are responding to climate change across the Arctic and boreal regions of North America presented as talks and posters at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting.

New features and resources

Here's some of what we were busy doing last year!

  • In addition to the normal Google Maps background imagery on Movebank, you can now choose to view maps from OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap, or Bing. Click on the new "Open Layers" button at the top of the Tracking Data Map to use these.
  • R tools: The R package "move"—designed for working with data from Movebank—has been improved and more packages are becoming available that can take Move objects as input, including EMbC, moveVis, ctmm, and recurse.
  • On the Studies Page you can now filter for studies that you are a collaborator for and for studies from which you can download data.
  • Thanks to the talented and international group of grad students at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Movebank's About page is now translated into Spanish, Russian and Chinese.
  • We recently installed new and faster storage hardware for the Movebank servers at the Max Planck Computing and Data Facility, which improves site performance and will enable expected growth in use.
  • A new tutorial explains the Env-DATA System and how to submit requests to annotate environmental information for movement ecology analyses. We also added more MODIS products describing albedo and vegetation to EnvDATA.

Conferences and training

The conference highlight of 2017 was the 6th International Bio-Logging Science Symposium in September, which brought together 500 attendees from 28 countries in Konstanz, Germany, hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. Presentations throughout the conference illustrated the importance of shared bio-logging databases, including Movebank, to movement ecology research. Presentations highlighting Movebank were also made at the 13th Chinese Young Ornithologists’ Conference in Xi’an, China; the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans, USA; and a conference of the International Council of Museums in Pittsburgh, USA. Courses using Movebank to train students and professionals in movement analysis included a short course in Raleigh, USA and the AniMove summer school in Radolfzell, Germany. ** Both of these courses will be held again in 2018—click on the links below for details and to register or apply: ****

ICARUS animal tracking system

The ICARUS Initiative (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space) is well on its way to becoming reality! The on-board computer for the ICARUS animal tracking system was delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) in October, and cosmonauts have now begun training to launch and install the ICARUS antenna on the ISS by mid-2018. Development of ICARUS <5-g tags including GPS, acceleration and other sensors, ground-based base stations and software supporting two-way communication is complete. All ICARUS data will be distributed to owners via automated feeds in Movebank.

Tips for data owners

Some reminders for those of you who have (or want to have) data on Movebank:

  • When you publish new papers or reports using your tracking data on Movebank, don't forget to add the citation to your Study Details, and consider updating your permissions to make tracks visible to the public, if you haven't already! This will help others find out about your work and create opportunities for collaborations.
  • The next time you're on Movebank, please take a few minutes to check the sharing status of your studies. Make sure those that are publicly visible have a name and study description that will help people understand what's there. If you have incomplete or test studies, consider keeping these private or deleting them if you don't need them anymore. For help organizing studies contact support@movebank.org.
  • If you have published or unpublished datasets that you'd like to share on Movebank, contact us at support@movebank.org for help with data upload, quality checks, and figuring out the best way to make sure your data are never lost. We are especially interested in helping to archive older datasets, as these are critical for studies of long-term changes and are increasingly at risk of being lost as the researchers who collected them retire.

Seeking input on animal tracking for conservation

The International Bio-Logging Society, the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the World Wildlife Fund want to hear how you are using animal tracking for conservation. Your contribution and experience is highly welcome! See here for details and to take the survey.

What's next?

As usual, we have big plans for the year! These include

  • New options for environmental data annotation through Env-DATA
  • Design updates on the website
  • New live feeds for several manufacturers
  • Translations of more website content into other languages
  • Participation in a new working group of the International Bio-Logging Society to develop community-wide data standards
  • A new version of the Animal Tracker App that will include offline maps, more citizen science tools, and support for non-public studiesYo

Published by Movebank on 2018-01-17