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News from Movebank, the online database for animal movement (January 2012)

Chris Merkord

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As we begin the new year, we want to update you about several new developments:

New Movebank Homepage and Community tools
If you have visited Movebank in the past two months, you will have noticed that we have a new homepage and a lot of new content. To help users interact with each other and with the public, we have added new community features including Groups and Forums. We have also added new pages to help users get started with Movebank and navigate the newly-updated user manual, all available under the Help section.

New Argos management tools
With help from David Douglas at the U.S. Geological Survey, we now offer summary statistics and e-mail notifications for users with ongoing Argos studies. You can view statistics or set up a daily or weekly e-mail notification, complete with a Google Earth file showing recent data, by going to "Manage Live Feeds" from your study page. Read more about how to manage Argos data using Movebank here.

Convention on Migratory Species
In late November, Movebank participated in the conference of the Convention on Migratory Species in Bergen, Norway. We presented the use of Movebank at side events on ecological networks as a tool for species conservation and an update of the Scientific Task Force on Wildlife and Ecosystem Health. These events were jointly run with researchers from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Princeton University, GRID-Arendal (a UNEP center), and CMS. In addition, we helped to draft a CMS resolution on The Role of Ecological Networks in the Conservation of Migratory Species, which was adopted at the conference and recognizes that "global databases such as Movebank which make tracking data available to conservation planners and to the public…are likely to assist in the identification of critical conservation sites."

Progress on new environmental data linkages
At the end of 2011, a group of 20 researchers including biologists, remote sensing experts, and Movebank staff met in California to plan the addition of new environmental data linkages in Movebank (read more here). As is already possible with a set of NOAA weather data, users will be able to annotate their tracking data with estimates of environmental parameters, such as topography, land use, and vegetation indices. Some of these datasets are already available as a demonstration, and we will be providing documentation about these data sources and our methods for linking them to your data. We welcome your requests to include specific data sets or parameters as part of this project—we are focusing primarily on global datasets but are open to all ideas.

Featured study
Tracking animals using satellite tags has allowed researchers to identify the year-round movements of many large migrating birds whose stopover and wintering grounds—often in places where ringing recaptures and recorded observations are rare—had previously been poorly known. The featured study "Swainson's Hawks" is an excellent example of the value of satellite tracking and also of collaboration and data-sharing between researchers to increase data set size. Read more about this on the Movebank homepage.

What's next?
In the coming months we will be integrating new environmental data linkages and adding new data management features. We are also moving forward with plans to begin formally archiving data sets, with tools for documenting and publishing data in Movebank.

In the meantime, send your questions and feedback to our data curator Sarah Davidson at sdavidson@orn.mpg.de.

Until next time, we wish you a good start to 2012!


The Movebank Team
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