Why use Movebank?

Published by admin on Thu, 11/17/2011 - 16:31

Movebank is a free, online resource created to help researchers manage, share, analyze, and archive animal movement data. Movebank now has over 1,000 registered users and contains nearly 400 studies, including animal tracking data for 185 species and over 17,000 individual animal tracks made up of 27 million locations.


The Movebank database supports the import of tracking data based on almost any tracking method: GPS, radio transmitters, Argos Doppler Shift, bird rings, and natural markers (support for solar geolocators will be available soon). Once imported, you can view your tracks online, add metadata, manage deployment information, and use all the other Movebank features described below. Having your data in Movebank also serves as a free backup of data you have stored on your personal computer.

Streaming live Argos data: If you currently have Argos PTTs deployed, you can set up a live feed in Movebank that will import new GPS and Doppler shift locations from Argos several times daily, adding to them to a single study. In addition, Argos Doppler locations can be easily filtered, based on Argos location classes or the Douglas Argos-Filter Argorithm (developed at the U.S. Geological Survey).


Researchers keep full ownership and control over the level of access to their data in Movebank. Movebank has flexible permissions settings for data owners, allowing you to easily share different levels of access with collaborators and the public. No shared software is required. Find and be found: If you choose to make some information about your studies public, then you can make it easy for others to find you online: researchers looking for collaborators, prospective graduate students, conservation groups looking for data to help them develop management plans. Compile multiple datasets for collaborative projects: All location data, once imported to Movebank, are in the same format. This feature, together with the ability to share your data privately with other collaborators, overcomes one of the major hurdles to combining datasets.


Movebank provides tools for making basic edits to tracking data, and includes a growing number of features to help users work with additional bio-logging data and link their data to external environmental datasets. In addition, you can easily export your dataset for use in ArcGIS, Google Earth, and other programs. Link your tracks to weather data: You can use Movebank to easily annotate weather parameters to your tracking dataset using the NCEP-DOE Reanalysis 2 dataset, provided by the NOAA. Movebank uses this dataset to provide an estimate of wind speed and direction, temperature, and other variables for each time-location point in your tracking dataset. Movebank Acceleration Viewer: Movebank has developed a Java program for analyzing data from accelerometers manufactured by e-obs. View the acceleration data in a flexible chart, link the acceleration to GPS locations on a map, and annotate your dataset with behavioral categories. We are currently developing new movement analysis programs that will be added to Movebank in the near future. Movebank is a free online database for managing, analyzing, sharing, and archiving animal movement data. The project is coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, the New York State Museum, and the University of Konstanz. For questions or feedback, contact us at support@movebank.org.


Fifty years from now, how will your study populations have changed? After your paper is published, what will happen to your raw data? Will your tracking data be available to help answer new questions about ecology, evolution, and global change? Collecting animal tracking data takes enormous time, effort, and funding, and also impacts the animals who carry tracking tags. We believe that these data provide invaluable records about nature and should be preserved for future generations. To support this, Movebank is developing an infrastructure for archiving tracking datasets that will be stored at the University of Konstanz and the New York State Museum. After going through a review process, accepted tracking datasets will be granted a permanent digital object identifier (DOI) and added to the archive. We are now building the web tools for submitting animal tracking datasets for publication. We expect to be issuing DOIs for this purpose in early 2012.