Science & Projects

Published by admin on Tue, 11/15/2011 - 20:38

What is ICARUS?

ICARUS, short for 'International Cooperation for animal Research Using Space', is a global collaboration of animal scientists to establish a satellite based infrastructure for earth observation of small objects such as migratory birds, bats, or sea turtles.


Many billion songbirds migrate every year between continents. Similarly, many bat species and countless large insects migrate long distances, potentially also between continents. Scientists are so far unable to follow individual small animal during their long-distance migrations. Knowledge about individual decisions is essential for an ecological and evolutionary understanding of dispersal and migration

ICARUS will help solve two major enigmas in biology: we need to understand the ontogeny of behavioral and movement traits of animals in the wild, and the selection acting on individuals in the wild (i.e., where, why and when do individuals die). ICARUS will also provide a seeing-eye dog for humankind. We will use the evolved senses of animals for remote sensing.

The ICARUS small animal tracking system will enable researchers to answer some ‘grand challenges in environmental sciences’, such as:

- Spread of infectious diseases (via birds, bats, rodents or insects)
- Relationship between biological diversity and ecosystem functioning
- Follow and predict bird presence, to enhance safety of aviation
- Identify stop-over and wintering sites for key endangered species
- Movement patterns of animals that provide ecosystem services
- Effects of land-use and climate change on migration patterns
- Invasiveness of species
- Migration routes and patterns
- Orientation and navigation over large scales
- Life history connectedness
- Mortality, extinction, natal dispersal, metapopulation dynamics or seed dispersal