We propose to develop a widely needed on-line portal that will streamline the co-registration of animal tracking data with a variety of weather and land surface data. The portal will also provide toolboxes for data visualization and analysis. To ensure relevance and effectiveness, the portal and its toolboxes will be designed in collaboration with wildlife biologists from three federal host agencies: US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), US National Parks Service (NPS), and the USGS, and two federal, and private conservation and research institutions: the Smithsonian National Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), and the Acopian Center for Conservation. The portal will provide efficient methods to examine relationships between observed animal movements (time-series of biological observations) and a breadth of information about environmental conditions. The environmental data will be obtained from satellite remote sensing products such as the MODIS ecological, ocean, land cover and land use data sets, as well as from high resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), the NCEP-NCAR weather reanalysis datasets, and datasets from the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). The tools we will provide are useful for studying movement at any scale. Here we will focus our analyses on long distance bird migration, with special attention to arctic birds, since their long-distance movements and rapid changes in the arctic region make them very sensitive to global change. Perceived significance: Animals are in constant movement across the surface of the earth. Climate affects animals by influencing the way they move through the environment, especially for migrating and flying animals. Understanding animal movement is pivotal to predicting and ensuring the survival of populations in the face of rapid global changes to climate, land-use and habitats. Understanding the mechanisms of animal movement will impart better forecast for the future needs of endangered species and will allow more effective planning for habitat management in national wildlife refuges. Wildlife migrations are presently tracked using satellite-based systems such as GPS and Argos. With the rapid proliferation of satellite tracking studies, and the exponentially growing availability of information about the Earth’s weather and land surface conditions, vast amounts of data are collected that can advance our understanding about the mechanisms that shape wildlife migrations. However, one of the greatest obstacles in conducting such research is the prerequisite task of co-registering the tracking data to the environmental data. The task becomes intractable to most wildlife biologists due to the ominous size of the environmental data sets as well as their unfamiliar formats. Our infrastructural developments will improve and expand an existing data portal, Movebank (www.Movebank.org). Movebank is a free and sustainable on-line archive of animal movement data, and tools to process it. There are presently >4 million data points from 134 species archived by 273 registered users. The tools we propose will allow Movebank users to directly integrate their animal movement data with remotely sensed earth surface data and weather data. It will also provide tools to extract unique information about weather dependencies of habitat, migration and landscape connectivity in migratory birds and other threatened and endangered species. The USGS, FWS, NPS, SMBC other private organizations are active participants in this project and will contribute observed datasets of bird migration data, as well as participate in the design of the analysis tools, to guarantee their applicability for monitoring and protecting threatened and endangered species.
Project PI: Gil Bohrer/The Ohio State University
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