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Frequently asked questions

What kind of data are in Movebank?

How is Movebank funded?

Are my data safe in Movebank?

Who controls the data in Movebank?

Can I use Movebank to fulfill data-sharing requirements?

Is there an offline version of Movebank?

What data analysis and visualizations are offered?

What sensor data can Movebank handle?

How do I add data to Movebank?

Does Movebank stream live data?

Can I create my own variables in the database?

What can I do if I am getting error messages or my changes won't save?

Why don't my tracks show up in the Tracking Data Map, or in the Acceleration Viewer?

What if I have redeployed tags on multiple animals, deployed multiple tags on the same animal, or need to update deployment dates?

What is the effect of the new Argos Kalman filter-based algorithm on the Douglas Filter?

Other questions or feedback?

 

What kind of data are in Movebank?

Movebank supports successive relocations of known animals at specific times and places. This is typically from tagged animals (e.g. animals with a radio collar or GPS tag) but may also be resighting of animals with unique markers. Movebank also accommodates some types of sensor data taken in parallel with location information.

How is Movebank funded?

Movebank has long-term funding through the Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz. Development has also been funded by grants from the Germany Aerospace Center (DLR), the German Science Foundation (DFG), NASA, and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

Are my data safe in Movebank?

You can upload your data to Movebank without anyone else ever getting to see them. The Movebank permissions options allow you to declare all your data as private, i.e. only you will have access to them. If you'd like to show parts of your data to collaborators or other scientists, you can grant access rights to them, which will give them read access to those particular data, and only to those data. Movebank developers have no access to data unless a data manager for the study adds them as a collaborator or data manager. Moreover, if anyone permitted to see your observation data wants to download them, he or she has to agree with license terms that you specify. You can require anyone permitted to use your data to employ specific citation and acknowledgement terms, and to mention all the grants used. Lastly, data in Movebank are stored on secure servers in Germany (and not "in the cloud").

Who controls the data in Movebank?

Data owners control access to, and are responsible for the quality of, data in Movebank. Movebank is a tool to help researchers archive, manage, and share their data by setting permissions and terms of use customized to their project goals.

Can I use Movebank to fulfill data-sharing requirements?

Many research funding agencies and academic journals now have rigorous data-sharing policies requiring scientists to make their data available to other researchers. For example, the U.S. National Science Foundation now requires that research funding proposals include a description of how research data will be disseminated, shared, and preserved (see here). A major goal of Movebank is to provide an efficient way for scientists to comply with these types of policies, and has developed the Movebank Data Repository to formally publish and archive datasets (providing a DOI for the dataset associated with a published article). Feel free to contact us at support@movebank.org for help in preparing a data management plan or fulfilling specific requirements.

Is there an offline version of Movebank?

We do not offer a downloadable copy of Movebank. The goals of the Movebank project are to promote data sharing, archiving, and collaboration by helping researchers to translate their datasets to a common format and make them available to other researchers and the public. Thus supporting an offline version of the database is outside the scope of the project, and is also unlikely to meet the full data management needs of individual research groups.

However, we do understand that you can't always be online, and that you will want to run analyses on data outside of Movebank. We offer several features to support offline use of data that are in Movebank:

  • You can always download a copy of your data from Movebank as a .csv, Excel, or Google Earth file or as an ESRI shapefile. This allows you to access an offline version of your data in almost any desktop program.
  • If new attributes are added to your dataset as a result of offline analysis (for example migration stage or habitat), you can upload these new attributes to your existing dataset in Movebank.
  • There are a growing number of data analysis programs that work with Movebank-format data but that can be used without an internet connection. For example, the R package move and the Acceleration Viewer can access your data directly from Movebank if you have an internet connection, but work offline as well if you have the data stored.

To develop your own customized offline database that could be easily be made compatible with the Movebank format, we recommend the following detailed guide:

Urbano F and Cagnacci F, 2014, Spatial database for GPS wildlife tracking data: A practical guide to creating a data management system with PostgreSQL/PostGIS and R. Springer, 257 p.

If the price of the book is prohibitive, you can contact us at support@movebank.org for assistance obtaining the material.

What data analysis and visualizations are offered?

Movebank presently offers data visualization on the Tracking Data Map and as animated Google Earth files and ESRI shapefiles, and you can annotate hundreds of environmental variables from global environmental datasets to the data using the Env-DATA System. In addition, several R packages and other software programs can work with data in Movebank format (see the Software pages, and read Compatibility with Movebank in the software descriptions). If you would like to contribute to the development of new features, please contact us at support@movebank.org.

What sensor data can Movebank handle?

In addition to location data and related attributes, Movebank is presently set up to archive temperature, elevation, and accelerometer data, as well as light levels measured by solar geolocators. We would like to work with you to add additional standard sensors so please contact us at support@movebank.org with any requests.

How do I add data to Movebank?

You can upload your data directly using our upload tools, import it via a live feed (see below), or send us your files and we can upload it for you, and then turn control over to you.

Does Movebank stream live data?

You can set up live data feeds to currently deployed Argos PTTs and GSM or Iridium GPS tags from a growing number of data providers. Once a feed is started, your data will be automatically added to your study in Movebank several times a day, and you can register to receive regular email notifications with updates. See here for more information on working with Argos data in Movebank. For groups running several Argos projects, we offer custom support to help manage multiple Argos studies in Movebank. We are adding support for additional types of live data streaming—contact us at support@movebank.org for more information.

Can I create my own variables in the database?

Tracking data often contain variables that are very specific to the tags you are using or to your analysis, and these exact variables are not always available as attributes in Movebank. We do not allow users to create their own variables on the fly, but there are several ways you can include all of your data attributes in Movebank:

  • Check the Movebank Attribute Dictionary to make sure the attribute isn't already available. For example, attributes like GPS satellite count, GPS fix type, and height above ellipsoid are intended to accommodate similar information offered by many tag types.
  • Check the Movebank Attribute Dictionary for a generic variable where you could store the information. Attributes like comments, behavioural classification, habitat, migration stage custom, study-specific measurement, and tag technical specification are intended for storing a broad range of information that might not fit elsewhere. Also note that you can easily concatenate multiple columns from your data file to a single Movebank attribute while importing custom tabular data files.
  • If these options don't work, you can suggest we add a new attribute to the database (see Request Attribute in the import interface).

What can I do if I am getting error messages or my changes won't save?

Error messages can be caused by several factors, including file formatting issues, internet connection problems, dataset size, or our server. Please see the user manual for solutions to common formatting issues. In some cases, problems are caused by information your web browser has stored in its cache, and you can solve them by bypassing or clearing your cache. (Similar problems can occur on other websites that allow users to make significant changes to site content, such as Wikipedia, where detailed instructions for solving cache problems are available.) Contact us about error messages by sending a description of how to recreate the problem and the text of the error message to support@movebank.org.

Why don't my tracks show up in the Tracking Data Map, or in the Acceleration Viewer?

If you are logged in, have uploaded data, and don't see them on the map or in the Acceleration Viewer, check the number of deployments in your study details. Is it 0? That is because you have told Movebank that the data belong to tags, but haven't identified how those data are linked to animals. Movebank doesn't assume that 1 Tag ID = 1 Animal ID = 1 "track", for several reasons: some data may represent testing, tags may have been deployed more than once, and Movebank doesn't know what species the animals are or what names/IDs you want to use for your animals. To avoid causing confusion about what you are looking at, some Movebank tools by default only show you the portions of your data that represent when the tags were actually on animals. Please see the following links for how to

If you have created Deployments but it still doesn't seem to be working, the Tags and Animals may not be correctly linked. The best way to view this is in the Deployment Manager or by downloading a reference data file.

What if I have redeployed tags on multiple animals, deployed multiple tags on the same animal, or need to update deployment dates?

Movebank allows you to manage deployment periods separately from your tracking data, so that it is easy to add multiple deployments for an animal or tag or change the deployment start and end times. As long as the tracking data are associated with the correct Tag ID, changes to your deployment dates will automatically update which data records are associated with each animal. Please see the above question for details.

Note we do not recommend giving the same tag multiple Tag IDs to indicate separate deployments. This method is much less flexible and prone to error. Instead, use one Tag ID for each tag in your study and use deployment periods to identify what periods of data represent individual animal tracks.

What is the effect of the new Argos Kalman filter-based algorithm on the Douglas Filter?

Argos offers two algorithms for calculating position estimates using the Doppler effect: one is based on least squares analysis and the other, introduced in 2011, is based on Kalman filtering. For more information on the differences between these methods, see here, here, and the Argos user manual. Several studies have been published comparing Argos data using least squares and Kalman filtering. David Douglas gave a presentation discussing these and original results at the May 2014 Symposium on Animal Movement and the Environment, which is available at youtube.com/movebank.

In general, the Douglas Filter implemented in Movebank (see here) can process Argos data derived from either filtering method. However, data derived from Kalman filter-based algorithm will commonly be better quality, and thus the Douglas filter will often remove fewer points.

Whereas data processing using the least squares analysis leads to two possible locations at each time point, locations derived from Kalman filtering have only one location solution. However, the DIAG format data provided by Argos are in the same format regardless of processing method. For data processed with the Kalman filter, the lat1/lon1 and lat2/long2 attributes are provided, but the two locations are usually identical. Exceptions occur where the Kalman method fails, in which case the data are processed using the least-squares method, and two alternate locations are provided.

Other questions or feedback?

To ask other questions, provide feedback, or get help with using Movebank, contact us at support@movebank.org.