January 2019 Newsletter

Dear Movebank users,

We hope your year has gotten off to a good start! Things haven't slowed down at Movebank, with more than 3,000 new users and almost double the number of animal locations from this time a year ago. Twenty one thousand users now manage over 5,500 studies containing 1.2 billion locations and 1.7 billion measurements from other on-animal sensors describing the movements and behavior of 850 animal taxa.

Data archiving Data owners allow the public to view or download animal movements in over 500 studies, and cite 366 publications describing the data in these studies. Movebank's archive, the Movebank Data Repository, released its 100th dataset during 2018 and now has over 120 curated and citable public datasets. Last year the repository was added to Scientific Data's list of recommended data repositories and is now recognized by the FAIRsharing and re3data registries.

A highlight from this past year was the publication of large compilations of raptor, osprey and homing pigeon movements, archiving data as far back as the mid-90s. And Dr. Marlee Tucker set an example for all of us of how to compile and publish analyses that bring together dozens of datasets and researchers, reusing published and unpublished data from Movebank and other sources, in an effort that culminated in a paper in Science last year showing a global reduction in mammal movements related to human impacts on terrestrial habitats, and a second paper just a few weeks ago showing how local bird movements are influenced by landscape homogeneity.

New features

Here are some of the new features and tools that we added to Movebank in 2018:

  • Live feeds for Druid GSM-GPS tags, Lotek PinPoint GPS PTTs, and ICARUS (in the testing phase)
  • A new search for published datasets
  • Upgrades to our mapping and statistics infrastructure to improve performance for very large studies
  • A new version of Movebank's Animal Tracker app that lets researchers follow animals' movements as they happen without requiring your data be public
  • Additions to our REST API to let you request all available attributes in a study, including the all-important 'visible' attribute
  • Former Movebank postdoc Dr. Somayeh Dodge is now distributing her Movebank-compatible DynamoVis program to animate tracking data.

Environmental data links

The EnvDATA System, Movebank's tool for environmental data annotation, got several upgrades in 2018. In addition to annotating tracking data, you can now request annotation of hundreds of environmental data layers for generic time-location records, such as simulated migrations, and as gridded rasters through the website. We also updated our MODIS Land connections to their newest Version 6 products and added links to NASA's 30-min Global Precipitation Measurement and Suomi-NPP VIIRS ocean data products.

Conferences and training

Movebank was presented at conferences and workshops around the world, including the International Ornithological Congress in Canada, the Conference of the Forum Carpaticum in Hungary, the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt, science symposiums in Brazil and several wildlife conservation and management institutions in India. In-depth training in data analysis using Movebank was held at a short course in Raleigh, USA in May and the AniMove summer school in Radolfzell, Germany in September.

Outcomes of some of last year's outreach are now available online:

  • A recording of WILDLABS Virtual Meetup on Big Data in Conservation, featuring Movebank's curator Sarah Davidson along with representatives from WWF and Microsoft, is available here.
  • The scripts, lectures and slides from the short course in Raleigh are available at https://movebankworkshopraleighnc.netlify.com.

Data standards

Throughout 2018 we took part in efforts throughout the wildlife tracking and bio-logging community to develop community-wide data standards to help us better discover, integrate and use the growing volumes of data being collected around the world. We helped organize the first meetings of the International Bio-Logging Society's Data Standardization Working Group and participated in a IODE/OBIS-sponsored workshop to develop standards for representing tracking data using the biodiversity standard Darwin Core, efforts that are continuing on GitHub.

Tips for data owners

Some suggestions for data owners:

  • Haven't been to Movebank in a while? Log in and visit the Studies page to view all studies where you are a Data Manager. Review your Study Details and permissions—for example, add the paper citation for your now-published project and make the tracks visible to the public, or delete that test study you no longer need.
  • While you're there, check whether your Study Statistics show Number of Deployments: 0 or Taxa: not set. This means your study is incomplete! Without this information it's harder to search for or view your tracks. To add animals and deployments, create a reference data file and import it to your study. You can use the Deployment Manager to set the species name for your animals in a few clicks.
  • Have data you want to archive but not sure where to start? Contact support@movebank.org for help.

What's next?

During 2019 we will be working to

  • Redesign the website and documentation to make it easier to navigate.

  • Improve search options on the website and by API.

  • Add more data feeds.

  • Develop guidelines for data archiving with advice for how to ensure your data are never lost.

  • Build connections in EnvDATA to new VIIRS remote sensing products as the MODIS satellites are phased out.

  • Continue participating in data standardization efforts through the International Bio-Logging Society.

Published by Movebank on 2019-01-31