Data policy

Movebank's data policy consists of our user agreement, statement on archiving, and guidance on the use of licenses for publicly downloadable data.

User agreement

By using data and services available through Movebank, users acknowledge the following:


  • Movebank users retain ownership of their data and can choose whether and when to make their data available to the public.

  • Movebank does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of data stored in Movebank. Many studies in Movebank represent in-progress research, and thus erroneous measurements (such as location outliers) and incomplete information (such as animals with no taxon assigned) may be present.

  • Studies in Movebank are treated independently within the database and are created and managed by users. Animals and tags should not be assumed to be unique across studies.

Data users

Data owners

  • Users that upload data to Movebank will read and acknowledge Movebank's statement on archiving, which encourages data owners to develop an archiving plan for their data in Movebank.

  • For all research studies that cannot be downloaded by the public, the data owner agrees to maintain a current contact in the Study Details who is able to respond to questions about the study or requests for use.

  • Users must be the owner of, or have permission from the owner of, data they upload to Movebank.

  • Users will not upload data that were obtained illegally or that are unrelated to movement ecology.

  • If uploading data about threatened or at-risk species and populations, users are expected to determine appropriate Permissions to protect and promote the conservation of study populations and individuals.

  • Users will not knowingly transmit data or use transmission modes that contain malware or data records that are intended to adversely affect Movebank's website, users or content.

  • Movebank will assist with as feasible but not legally enforce user compliance with data licenses.

Data access by Movebank

  • Movebank will not edit data or study settings without the permission of a Data Manager for that study.

  • Movebank may report aggregate information about all data in Movebank, for example the total number of deployed locations over time, the number of active data feeds, or the distribution of animals across taxonomic groups.

  • Movebank may create aggregate visualizations of animal locations only from studies for which a Data Manager has made the tracks publicly visible, or for which permission has been obtained from a Data Manager.

  • Movebank site administrators may query public and non-public data to identify errors, quality control issues, or causes of site performance problems. This information may be used to notify users with suggestions to improve user experience or the quality of data on Movebank.

Security and persistence

  • Movebank does not guarantee uninterrupted data access to studies, APIs or automated data feeds.

  • Movebank has long-term funding and in general will not delete data stored on Movebank. However Movebank does not guarantee permanent storage or public visibility of data on Movebank, for example in cases of major errors that affect statistics about the contents of Movebank, or non-public studies for which no living person can be found with the authority to provide access to or permission to use the data.

  • Secure Sockets Layer (“SSL”) encryption is used on all Movebank web pages and APIs on which data are transferred and managed.

  • Movebank may disable user accounts and deny use of application programming interfaces (APIs) if use interferes with normal operations of the database or website.

  • Movebank may maintain secure, non-public back-up copies of data.

  • Information about the collection, use and disclosure of personal data of site visitors and registered users is provided in our privacy policy.


A primary goal of Movebank is to archive animal movement data for future use. We fully support controlled-access storage of data that are still being collected and analyzed, that could pose a threat to the study populations or for which access is legally restricted. At the same time, we recognize that over decades, the ability to discover, access and understand data will be lost if studies are not prepared for archiving. We strongly encourage data owners to plan to eventually make their data public or to pass on access to and ownership of their studies to one or more other users who can address questions and requests for use.

See our best practices for archiving studies on Movebank for guidance on designing an archiving plan for your study.

Owners can make their data public at an appropriate time by allowing public download from the study, with options to set embargos and formally publish in the Movebank Data Repository. If your study is complete but cannot be publicly shared, for example due to legal restrictions or conservation status, or if you require formal documentation to release data through Movebank, contact for assistance.

We also support the use of Movebank for private short-term and testing purposes. To use Movebank for temporary purposes without intention to archive, please set the Study Type to “Test”.

Data licenses

Owners of private studies may define their own terms of use.

For public studies, data owners choose from Creative Commons Universal (CC0), Attribution (CC BY) and Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) licenses. The links above provide human-readable, machine-readable and legal definitions of these licenses. Creative Commons licenses are free, apply anywhere in the world, and are intended only for publicly downloadable data. Data owners have the right to make their public studies private again, thus removing the license, but the terms of the Creative Commons license will apply to any user who downloaded data during the time the license was valid. Note that if a study allows public download but restricts access to specific animals or recent data, the Creative Commons license only applies to the portion of the data that can be downloaded by the public.

The general Movebank Terms of Use are applicable to all data stored in Movebank.

Choosing a license: All studies published in the Movebank Data Repository have a CC0 license, and we recommend the CC0 license be eventually applied to studies to avoid unintended restrictions on future use of the data. The CC BY-NC license is not recommended because the non-commercial use clause is vaguely defined and thus can create unwanted confusion over appropriate use. We provide it as an option for cases where it may be required, for example due to the source of funding.

Using licensed and public data: See Movebank's Citation Guidelines for details of how to reference published data and their authors. Users of licensed and public data are also subject to the general Movebank terms of use and user agreement. Many public studies in Movebank are owned by active researchers who continue to make use of their published data. Licenses facilitate data re-use beyond individual careers and allow the free exploration of data, but do not supercede academic and professional norms for acknowledgement, citation and authorship. We strongly encourage users to make a reasonable attempt to contact owners of public data about intended uses and to offer co-authorship or other credit as appropriate for publications or products resulting from the use of these data. Researchers are interested in learning about new uses of their data, have important insights about how to properly analyze and interpret their data, and might have additional data they would be willing to contribute. Read more tips for collaborations using Movebank.

Last updated March 2020.