Researchers at the University of Cambridge Department of Zoology have published a new study on challenges to collecting information for global biodiversity conservation. For the study, they looked at four large databases that collect information about species occurence and are available to the public—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the Global Population Dynamics Database, the European Union for Bird Ringing Databank, and Movebank.
They found that in all cases, the amount of available information is greater for countries that are wealthy, have larger numbers of people who speak English, are more secure (as measured by the Global Peace Index), and that are near the country hosting the database. This means the number of animal observations in a country reflects these factors rather than biological productivity or biodiversity. Based on these findings, the authors recommend promoting education and collaboration in countries that do not meet these criteria.
Animal tracking data is a unique way to help overcome some of these challenges, because tags can record animal movements long distances from the original release location. For migratory birds in particular, this can mean that data can be collected and shared about species movements in poorer countries and in places that may not be easy or safe for researchers to go themselves, such as Syria. However for many species local data collection and research is still needed.
As a free resource available to all researchers, Movebank hopes to support efforts to overcome these obstacles. We welcome your comments or suggestions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and would be excited to collaborate on education tools in other languages, similar to this summary description of Movebank published in the German joural Vogelwarte.