Skip to main content

Live feeds of Argos data

If you currently have Argos tags deployed, you can set up a subscription in Movebank that will automatically collect your data from Argos every six hours and add it to your study in Movebank. You can decode and import the Argos Doppler-based location estimates and diagnostic information for any PTT, as well as GPS data from PTTs provided by GeoTrak, Lotek (PinPoint tags) and Microwave.

Creating a new Argos subscription

  • To begin, create a new study, if necessary, and then go to the study in the Studies page.
  • Select Manage live feeds > Argos monitor.
  • Select New.
  • Choose whether to import Argos data via Argos WebService or Argos Telnet (see below for more information.)
  • Enter your Argos Program ID, user name, and password and select Test connection.
  • Once the connection is working, select whether you want to import all data from the program or data for specific PTTs.
  • Next, select whether you want to download and store raw DIAG and DS data (for Argos Telnet) or XML data (for Argos WebService; the XML format contains the information stored in both DIAG and DS files obtained via Telnet). 
  • Choose whether to import Argos Doppler locations to the Movebank database. If you import Argos Doppler locations, you can configure a filter based on the location class provided by Argos or the Douglas Argos-Filter Argorithm.
  • Choose whether to decode and import GPS data from PTTs provided by GeoTrak, Lotek, and/or Microwave*.
  • Click Finish.

* Note that the import of Microwave engineering data was implemented during 2016. Feeds created prior to this addition will not include engineering data. To enable import of engineering data for older feeds, please contact

Choosing an Argos download channel

You can import your data to Movebank using two download channels offered by Argos: Argos WebService and Argos Telnet (ArgosServer). In general we recommend the WebService option. Please do not import data from both Telnet and WebService feeds for the same PTTs. As we understand Argos does not charge for data delivery using either of these channels. Data imported using Argos Telnet will include the standard Argos DIAG (diagnostic) attributes. Raw Argos data files accessed via Telnet are text files following the standard DIAG format. Data imported via Argos WebService will include all attributes provided by the Telnet option, with the addition of attributes describing the error ellipse of Doppler-based locations (see below). In addition, raw data will be provided in XML format rather than the DIAG text files. See Section 6 of the Argos user's manual for more information about obtaining data from Argos.

For descriptions of the diagnostic attributes provided by Argos, see the Movebank Attribute Dictionary or the Argos user's manual. The attributes included to describe the error of Doppler-based locations provided by Argos WebService depend on which location processing algorithm Argos uses for your data (see Section 3 of the Argos user's manual for more information). For locations processed using the Kalman filter or using more than four messages with the Least squares method, these include error radius, length of the semi-major axis, length of the semi-minor axis, ellipse orientation, and geometric dilution of precision (GDOP). For locations processed using the Least squares method with 2 or 3 messages, these include ellipse orientation and GDOP.

There is also a small difference in how IQ (quality indicator) values are reported between the two channels. IQ values obtained through Argos Telnet are always 2 digits, X and Y, each of which provides different quality information. Argos WebService provides the same IQ information, but does not include leading 0s, so a value of "06" obtained through Argos Telnet will be "6" if obtained through Argos WebService, and a value of "00" obtained through Argos Telnet will be "0" or blank if obtained through Argos Telnet. This does not affect results of the Douglas Argos-Filter Algorithm.

Verifying that your Argos feed is working

The best way to confirm that your live feed is functioning correctly, and make sure that all data that you want are being included, is to wait until the feed has been running a few days, and then to go the Studies page and compare the data that have been imported to Movebank to what the recent data in your Argos online account. Make sure that all data points and PTTs shown in Argos for the previous few days have been added to Movebank. Click on Live feeds from the menu below your study name on the left to access DIAG and DS data in raw text format. Note that Movebank updates your study every ~6 hours, so very recent records may show up in Argos and not yet be in Movebank. If you need to make any changes to your subscription in Movebank, see managing live Argos feeds below.

After your Argos feed is up and running, we recommend setting up an e-mail notification that will provide daily or weekly summary information about incoming data and PTT movements.

Editing live Argos feeds

After you have created an Argos subscription, Movebank will automatically update your study with new data from Argos approximately every six hours. You can view and manage your subscriptions by selecting Manage live feeds > Argos from the Studies page. You will see the Argos Live Feed Monitor, which shows the current status of data imports of the selected Argos program. You can modify your subscriptions by choosing a program and selecting Edit.

Viewing Argos statistics

You can view summary statistics about your Argos feeds from your Study page by selecting Manage live feeds and choosing Argos statistics. Statistics include information on timing of the most recent locations and cumulative distance traveled in the previous day and week for each PTT. Statistics can be calculated for Argos Doppler and GPS locations; in the case of Argos Doppler locations, the statistics can be calculated for the entire data set or on the filtered data set using your current Argos filter settings. You can have these statistics, as well as Google Earth files and detection of possible mortality, emailed to you daily or weekly by setting up an email notification.

Managing raw feed data

To access your raw DIAG and DS data, click on Live feeds from the menu below your study name on the left. You will see a separate feed for each Argos Program you are importing data for, and can download or delete the raw data feeds from here.

In some cases, it may be necessary to manage this raw text data at the level of individual PTTs. In this case, go to Manage live feeds > Manage raw feed data. From here you can see a summary of the number of raw data snippets, number of visible (not filtered) locations, and total number of locations for each PTT. You can also delete and reimport records imported to Movebank for one or more PTTs. (Note that this deletes and reimports data from the Movebank database—the raw data are stored separately and will not be deleted.)