Skip to main content

About Movebank


Movebank is a free online infrastructure created to help researchers manage, share, analyze, and archive animal movement data. The Movebank project is coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the University of Konstanz. Movebank collaborates with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ohio State University, and the U.S. Geological Survey, and has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the German Science Foundation, and NASA. Movebank is has long-term (>20 years) funding through the Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz and is intended to serve as a global data archive for animal movement data.

Movebank has more than 13,000 users including people from universities, government agencies, and other research and conservation groups around the world. Movebank is a resource open to all researchers and organizations regardless of species, study area, or source of funding. Movebank users retain ownership of their data and can choose whether or not to make their data available to the public. We encourage collaborations between researchers, conservation groups, and government to re-use animal tracking data and give it a second life.

The database is designed primarily for datasets that include multiple locations of individual animals, commonly referred to as tracking data. It also allows inclusion of a growing number of additional attributes, including descriptive information about animals and tags, manufacturer-specific measurements, and data from other bio-logging sensors attached to animals.

Movebank has grown dramatically since its inception, due to both growth in the number of users and changes in technology that allow the collection of increasingly high-resolution data.

growth in locations over timegrowth in studies over timegrowth in taxa over time

As of January 2017, Movebank includes

  • 2,939 studies
  • 2,766 data owners
  • 635 taxa
  • 387 million locations

In addition to the main database, the Movebank Data Repository allows researchers to submit data sets in Movebank for publication. Submitted data sets undergo a review process and receive a persistent identifier (DOI), are licensed, and are archived and made permanently available online by the Library of the University of Konstanz.


Information about animal movement is important to addressing environmental challenges such as climate and land use change, biodiversity loss, invasive species, and infectious diseases. Advances in technologies for tracking animal movement are allowing researchers to collect increasingly large amounts of animal movement data. However, working with these large data sets remains a challenge, and a large fraction of these data exist only on personal computers and are not professionally catalogued or archived. The Movebank project started in 2007 and was designed to help researchers effectively use their collected animal movement data and to support permanent public archiving of these data.


Movebank has long-term support from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, the Max Planck Society, and the University of Konstanz. Additional current funding comes from

  • German Aerospace Center (DLR) award for the ICARUS Ground Segment (50JR1601)
  • NASA ABoVE project NNX15AT91A
  • US National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Biological Infrastructure award 1564380

Previous funding has come from

  • NASA Earth Science Division, Ecological Forecasting Program, project NNX11AP61G
  • German Research Foundation (DFG) AOBJ 576687
  • NSF Division of Biological Infractructure award 0756920


The main goals of Movebank are to

  • archive animal movement data for future use, as controlled by the data owners.
  • enable collaborations between researchers, students, conservation organizations, and governments who are interested in animal movement.
  • help scientists address new questions by combining data sets from separate studies to test ideas related to ecological patterns, evolutionary processes, and disease spread.
  • promote open access to animal movement data collected by researchers, in particular when the data collection is publicly funded.
  • allow the public to explore the amazing animal movements recorded by animal trackers.

Current developments

We are constantly adding new features to Movebank and improving old ones. We continue to add support for additional tracking methods and data formats, and are always working to improve the website to make it more accessible and valuable for all users. Please send any questions or feedback to support(at)

Citing Movebank

If you use data accessed from Movebank, you should first cite the original data provider. You can also cite Movebank directly:

Wikelski, M., and Kays, R. <year>. Movebank: archive, analysis and sharing of animal movement data. Hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology., accessed on <date>.

If you want to use data in Movebank that belongs to others, follow the data owner's terms of use. If the data owner has not specified terms of use, follow the general Movebank Terms of Use. These terms are shown before all data downloads and in the study details page of each study.


Dr. Roland Kays, Movebank PI, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University: roland.kays(at)

Dr. Martin Wikelski, Movebank PI, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Konstanz: martin(at)

Dr. Gil Bohrer, PI for the Env-DATA System, the Ohio State University: bohrer.17(at)

Sarah Davidson, Movebank data curator: sdavidson(at)

General questions and feedback: support(at)