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Accessing data in Movebank

Movebank users retain ownership of their data and can choose whether or not to make their data available to the public. Several hundred Movebank studies can be downloaded by reading and accepting the owners' terms of use—for others, you can contact the data owner to request permission to view or download the data. Once you have permission, you can download part or all of the data in the study in a variety of formats.

Obtaining access to Movebank data and preparing for download

If you are a data owner and want to give others permission to view or download tracking data, see the instructions here. If you are interested in accessing other people's data in Movebank, first consider the following:

  • What kind of data you are looking for? If you do not already know a particular study you want to access, do some searches from the Search Map or Studies pages to find studies of the species, location, or researcher you are interested in.
  • Do you have permission to access and use the data? The data in Movebank are owned by the researchers or groups that collected the data, and these data owners choose whether and how to make their data visible and available for download. If a study owner has made data publicly available or has provided you with access to the data by making you a collaborator or data manager, then you will be able to download the data using the instructions below. If a study owner has not made the data available to you, you will need to contact them directly and request permissions (see below for instructions). If the owner grants your request, he or she may give you permission within Movebank or send you the data file/s directly. If you would like assistance finding relevant studies or study owners for a specific research project, contact us at
  • How will you use and cite the data? Each data owner defines how their data can be used and how it must be cited. For example, they may specify that the data may only be used for educational purposes, or as part of scientific collaborations. See the license terms (listed in the study details and during the download process) or general Movebank Terms of Use, which apply if no license terms are written and will appear during the download process. If you are not the owner of the data, be sure that you will use and cite the data appropriately before downloading or requesting access to data. If you are unsure, contact the data owner directly to discuss.
  • What data format do you need? Movebank stores both Movebank-formatted datathe data you see on Tracking Data Map and in the main Studies pageand raw data files. Raw data files include those uploaded by users and those imported via live feeds to Argos or GSM data. Movebank allows you to download Movebank-formatted data files especially for Google Earth, Excel, and ESRI ArcGIS, or as a .csv file, which can be read by many applications.

Requesting to use data in Movebank

If you would like permission to view or use data in Movebank that are not yours, send a message to the contact listed in the study you are interested in. When you are logged in, you can send this contact an email from the Tracking Data Map or Studies pages. In your message, we highly recommend that you introduce yourself and provide a description of your proposed use of the data.

From the Tracking Data Map,

  • Find the study from the list on the map.
  • Click on the info icon to the right of the study name.
  • Select Contact owner. A window will open with a draft email to the data owner.
  • Make changes to the email to add additional details about yourself and your proposed use of the data.
  • Select Send. The data owner will be able to reply to your message using the email address at which your Movebank account is registered.

From the Studies page,

  • Select the study from the list to view the Study details.
  • Click on the name of the Contact Person or Principal Investigator. This will take you to the user's profile page.
  • Select Contact User to open up a blank e-mail. (If you do not see this option, the user has selected not to be reachable through their profile page. In this case you can try contacting them from the Tracking Data Map as described above.)
  • Add a subject and message.
  • If you would like to receive a copy of the message, select the box next to Send yourself a copy.
  • Select Send e-mail.

Downloading data in Movebank format

When you are ready to download data, you can do so from either the Tracking Data Map or Studies page.

To start a download from the Tracking Data Map page,

  • Search for the study name.
  • Select the "i" button next to the study or animal and then click download search result.

To start a download from the Studies page,

  • Find the study and select Download > Download Data from the menu above the study details.

After starting your download from either page,

  • Read the Download terms, note and be sure you can meet all use and citation requirements, and select I agree.
  • Choose a sensor type (only needed if the study contains data for more than one sensor type).
  • Choose a file format. Here you can also choose to calculate 50% and 95% home range polygons in Google Earth format, using the classical kernel method as implemented in the R package adehabitat (kernelUD, points, extent = 0.1, h = href, kern = bivnorm, grid = 40). While this feature can provide a useful initial estimate of home range, for research purposes we recommend doing your own analysis so you can choose parameters appropriate to your study.
  • If you want only data for a specified time period, select filter by date to define a date range (e.g., 2000-01-01 to 2000-12-31) or interval (e.g., the last 2 days) to include.
  • Choose whether to include points marked as outliers and/or undeployed locations (outliers can only be downloaded from the Studies page). See here for a description of deployments and outliers.
  • Choose whether to include UTM coordinates and study local time (note the local time is based on the study's reference location, not on the animals' locations).
  • Select Download.

After selecting download, it may take several minutes for the file to be created and downloaded, so please be patient.

Downloading reference data

Reference data is extra descriptive information about animals, tags, and deployments in a study (see here for a list of available reference data terms). To download the reference data for a study,

  • Go to Tracking Data Map > Studies.
  • Type in the name of your study and select the name from the list on the left to view the study details.
  • Select Download > Download reference data.
  • Choose a file format.
  • Choose whether to include attributes currently in the study or include all Movebank attributes. Typically the attributes currently in the study is most useful (including all attributes can be helpful for data owners who want to add additional information to their study).
  • Select Download.

Downloading raw data files

In addition to providing Movebank-format data, Movebank stores all original data files that are uploaded to a study. This can be useful for backing up files, sharing original files, or re-tracing the source of import errors.

To view or download uploaded files,

  • Go to Tracking Data Map > Studies.
  • Type in the name of your study and select the name from the list on the left to view the study details.
  • Select Files from the menu just below your study name on the left.
  • A list of files will appear, showing all files that have been uploaded to the study. Choose a file from the list.
  • To view the file: If a file with tracking data has been imported to Movebank, you can view the data in a map view (select Data > Show in Map) or in the Event Editor, where you can view a map and the tabular data (select Data > Edit).
  • To download the file: From the Studies menu on the right, select Download > Download original file.

If you have a live feed to Argos in Movebank, Movebank stores files of Argos Doppler data in raw DIAG, DS, and XML formats:

  • Go to Tracking Data Map > Studies.
  • Type in the name of your study and select the name from the list on the left to view the study details.
  • Select Live feeds from the menu just below your study name on the left.
  • A list of live feeds will appear, one for each Argos program and data format that you're getting (DS, DIAG, or XML). Select the feed that contains the data you want to download. To download data for a single PTT, select Child feeds from beneath the feed name on the left, and select the feed with the PTT name in it.
  • Select Download > Download original file from the Studies menu on the right.

To download DIAG or DS files that were uploaded rather than accessed directly from Argos, follow instructions for downloading uploaded files above.

Accessing data by API

For some uses, it is easier to access data in Movebank directly from another website or program. The Movebank API allows access to the Movebank database using HTTP/CSV requests or JSON/JavaScript. In addition, we have sample code that can be used to embed maps of Movebank data on your own website. See details at