Movebank is an online platform that helps researchers and wildlife managers worldwide manage, share, analyze and archive animal movement data. Movebank is hosted by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in coordination with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Ohio State University and the University of Konstanz. Movebank partners with government agencies, universities and conservation organizations and is intended to serve as a global archive for animal movement and bio-logging data. Movebank has long-term (>20 years) funding through the Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz and has been developed with support from other generous funders.
Movebank is used by thousands of researchers and wildlife managers around the world and is open to data owners and organizations regardless of species, study area or source of funding. Movebank users retain ownership of their data and can choose whether and when to make their data available to the public. We encourage collaborations to re-use animal tracking data and give it a second life.
Information about animal movement is important to the field of movement ecology and to addressing challenges such as climate and land use change, biodiversity loss, invasive species, wildlife trafficking and infectious disease. Advances in technology allow researchers to collect increasing volumes of animal-borne sensor data. However, working with these datasets remains a challenge due to a lack of standards for data transfer and storage and the growing size and complexity of multi-sensor datasets. Many datasets remain undiscoverable, poorly documented and may exist only on personal computers or in obsolete formats, particularly older work critical to assessing change over time. The Movebank project started in 2007 and was designed to help researchers effectively manage and publicly archive these unique data.
Movebank's database is designed for locations of individual animals over time, commonly referred to as tracking data, and measurements collected by other sensors attached to animals, as well as information about related animals, tags and deployments. Movebank has grown dramatically since its inception, due to the increasing number of users as well as advances in technology that allow the collection of increasingly high-resolution data and application to new species and environments.
As of June 2021, Movebank includes
- 2.8 billion locations
- 3.2 billion non-location events
- 6,353 studies
- 1,100 taxa
The goals of Movebank are to
- archive animal movement data for future use, as controlled by the data owners.
- enable collaborations between researchers, students, conservation organizations and governments who are interested in animal movement.
- help scientists address new questions by combining datasets to test ideas related to ecological patterns, evolutionary processes and disease spread.
- promote open access to animal movement data, in particular when the data collection is publicly funded.
- allow the public to explore the amazing animal movements recorded by animal trackers.
Movebank offers a network of services centered on its database of animal-borne sensor measurements.
Those collecting data can add it to the database through automated data feeds supported for over 20 tag manufacturers or file uploads, manage data quality and additional information about animals, tags and deployments, and share their data publicly or with select users. They can collect capture and deployment information in the field using the Animal Tagger mobile app and send it directly to Movebank, and the Animal Tracker mobile app supports management of observations submitted by citizen scientists and other notes, correspondence and images describing the lives of tracked animals. They can also submit their data stored in Movebank for publication in the Movebank Data Repository, which offers data citations, persistent identifiers (DOIs) and long-term public archiving through the Communication, Information, Media Centre of the University of Konstanz.
Data owners, the public and anyone granted access to non-public data can explore data through Movebank's website, the Animal Tracker mobile app, and resources developed by other groups using Movebank's APIs. For those seeking advanced user-friendly analysis, the Env-DATA System offers tools for linking data in Movebank to hundreds of environmental variables. The MoveApps platform, currently undergoing beta testing, will offer a place to share and use data processing, analysis and visualization modules, ideal for custom solutions to support training, research and applied wildlife management.
Movebank has long-term support from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, the Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz. Additional funding has come from the organizations and awards listed below. Contact us to discuss future funding opportunities and partnerships.
- Baden-Württemberg Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst (Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Art)*
- United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Convention on Migratory Species)*
- FAIRsFAIR Project*
- German Aerospace Center (DLR) award for the ICARUS Ground Segment (50JR1601)
- German Research Foundation (DFG) (AOBJ 576687)
- The Knobloch Family Foundation*
- NASA Earth Science Division, Ecological Forecasting Program* (projects NNX11AP61G and NNX15AT91A)
- National Geographic*
- US National Science Foundation Division of Biological Infrastructure (awards 0756920 and 1564380)
Ongoing projects at Movebank include
- our new role as the user data center for the ICARUS animal tracking system
- growth of the Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA) to support collaborations addressing research, conservation and monitoring needs in the Arctic and subarctic
- participation in the Covid-19 Bio-Logging Initiative to study changes in animal movement and behavior in response to the pandemic-induced "anthropause"
- conservation partnerships and development of tools for on-the-ground conservation in cooperation with conservation and wildlife managers
- development and beta release of MoveApps, an analysis platform for flexible data analysis and user-contributed tools for analyzing data in Movebank's format
- upgrades to the Movebank Data Repository and application for CoreTrustSeal certification
We continue to add support for additional tracking methods and data providers. Please send questions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To cite the use of the Movebank platform, please use either or both of these citations:
Wikelski M, Davidson SC, Kays R. [year]. Movebank: archive, analysis and sharing of animal movement data. Hosted by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. www.movebank.org, accessed on [date].
Kranstauber B, Cameron A, Weinzierl R, Fountain T, Tilak S, Wikelski M, Kays R. 2011. The Movebank data model for animal tracking. Environ Model Softw. 26(6):834–835. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2010.12.005
White storks (About us): Christian Ziegler
Fieldwork (News): Christian Ziegler
Radio tracking (Get started): Rob Nelson
The animation was created by 422 South using data from real tracked animals stored on Movebank. This animation follows white stork (Ciconia ciconia) nestlings and families migrating from Germany across the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert to wintering grounds in Africa. Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) range across the Loita Plains, Athi-Kaputiei Plains and Amboseli Basin of Kenya and Tanzania, and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and elephants (Loxodonta africana) travel through Kruger National Park, South Africa. As spring returns, the white storks migrate back north to Europe.
This video is licensed under CC BY 4.0 and may be used with attribution. We suggest the following citation:
422 South and Movebank. 2020. The wonders of animal tracking. Data from Boone RB, Bowers JA, Buss P, Cross PC, du Toit JT, Eggers U, Eid B, Fiedler W, Flack A, Getz WM, Hay CT, Hofmeyr M, Jeltsch F, Kaatz M, Keeves B, Leppelsack E, Leppelsack H, Lilieholm RJ, Nathan R, Ogutu JO, Quetting M, Reid RS, Rotics S, Sapir N, Schäfle W, Schmid H, Slotow R, Stabach J, Stahl T, Thaker M, Turjeman S, Vanak AT, Wieding O, Wikelski M, Wolhuter J, Worden JS, Zurell D, stored at https://movebank.org. https://youtu.be/0SbZfLOUcj0
The data shown come from the following studies:
Study Eastern flyway spring migration of adult white storks (data from Rotics et al. 2018)
Rotics S, Kaatz M, Turjeman S, Zurell D, Wikelski M, Sapir N, Eggers U, Fiedler W, Jeltsch F, Nathan R. 2018. Data from: Early arrival at breeding grounds: causes, costs and a trade-off with overwintering latitude. Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.v8d24552
Study Kruger African Buffalo, GPS tracking, South Africa
Cross PC, Bowers JA, Hay CT, Wolhuter J, Buss P, Hofmeyr M, du Toit JT, Getz WM. 2016. Data from: Nonparameteric kernel methods for constructing home ranges and utilization distributions. Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.j900f88t
Study LifeTrack White Stork Bavaria
Fiedler W, Leppelsack E, Leppelsack H, Stahl T, Wieding O, Wikelski M. 2019. Data from: Study "LifeTrack White Stork Bavaria" (2014-2019). Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.v1cs4nn0
Study LifeTrack White Stork SW Germany
Fiedler W, Flack A, Schäfle W, Keeves B, Quetting M, Eid B, Schmid H, Wikelski M. 2019. Data from: Study "LifeTrack White Stork SW Germany" (2013-2019). Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.ck04mn78
Study ThermochronTracking Elephants Kruger 2007
Slotow R, Thaker M, Vanak AT. 2019. Data from: Fine-scale tracking of ambient temperature and movement reveals shuttling behavior of elephants to water. Movebank Data Repository. https://doi.org/10.5441/001/1.403h24q5
Study White-bearded wildebeest in Kenya
Stabach JA, Hughey L, Reid RS, Worden JS, Leimgruber P, Boone RB. 2020. Data from: Comparison of movement strategies of three populations of white-bearded wildebeest. Movebank Data Repository. https://www.doi.org/10.5441/001/1.h0t27719
Dr. Roland Kays, Movebank PI, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University: email@example.com
Dr. Martin Wikelski, Movebank PI, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Gil Bohrer, PI for the Env-DATA System, the Ohio State University: email@example.com
Sarah Davidson, Movebank PI and Data Curator, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior: firstname.lastname@example.org
General questions and feedback: email@example.com