Building the next generation of analysis tools for animal tracking data

Tracking animals with electronic telemetry devices to gain insight into where they go, how they use their environment and their interactions with other animals has become a major research focus in ecology. However, a lack of statistically sound and intuitive analysis tools has meant that the true potential of animal movement data is often unexplored.

Using innovative computational methods, we will create a new animal movement analysis toolbox to allow practitioners to link animal tracks with environmental and human activity datasets in a simple, robust manner. This toolbox will be made broadly available to researchers, providing a new framework to address pressing questions relating to the spatial ecology and conservation of animals in a human-dominated, variable and changing environment.

The overarching aim of the project is to develop a powerful, fast and easily used analysis toolbox, focused initially on but not limited to state-space models for a variety of animal tracking data types. The tools will be developed specifically for the Consortium Partners, providing a means for tracking and telemetry data quality control that is tightly integrated with existing (or planned) data management workflows as well as accessing more of the ecological information hidden within the Partners’ tracking and telemetry data collections.

The tools will be powerful because they will be as broadly applicable across species and tracking data types as possible, be fast and easy to implement, provide methods for visualising and relating animal movement patterns, behaviour or survival to independently collected environmental datasets. This will all be fully integrated with the Partners’ data management systems, facilitating ‘Big Data’ analysis and inference.