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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

A standardisation framework for bio-logging data to advance ecological research and conservation

Sequeira, Ana M. M.; O'Toole, Malcolm; Keates, Theresa R.; McDonnell, Laura H.; Braun, Camrin D.; Hoenner, Xavier; Jaine, Fabrice R. A.; Jonsen, Ian D.; Newman, Peggy; Pye, Jonathan; Bograd, Steven J.; Hays, Graeme C.; Hazen, Elliott L.; Holland, Melinda; Tsontos, Vardis M.; Blight, Clint; Cagnacci, Francesca; Davidson, Sarah C.; Dettki, Holger; Duarte, Carlos M.;
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Bio-logging data obtained by tagging animals are key to addressing global conservation challenges. However, the many thousands of existing bio-logging datasets are not easily discoverable, universally comparable, nor readily accessible through existing repositories and across platforms, slowing down ecological research and effective management. A set of universal standards is needed to ensure discoverability, interoperability and effective translation of bio-logging data into research and management recommendations.We propose a standardisation framework adhering to existing data principles (FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable; and TRUST: Transparency, Responsibility, User focus, Sustainability and Technology) and involving the use of simple templates to create a data flow from manufacturers and researchers to compliant repositories, where automated procedures should be in place to prepare data availability into four standardised levels: (a) decoded raw data, (b) curated data, (c) interpolated data and (d) gridded data. Our framework allows for integration of simple tabular arrays (e.g. csv files) and creation of sharable and interoperable network Common Data Form (netCDF) files containing all the needed information for accuracy-of-use, rightful attribution (ensuring data providers keep ownership through the entire process) and data preservation security.We show the standardisation benefits for all stakeholders involved, and illustrate the application of our framework by focusing on marine animals and by providing examples of the workflow across all data levels, including filled templates and code to process data between levels, as well as templates to prepare netCDF files ready for sharing.Adoption of our framework will facilitate collection of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) in support of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and inter-governmental assessments (e.g. the World Ocean Assessment), and will provide a starting point for broader efforts to establish interoperable bio-logging data formats across all fields in animal ecology.


bio‐logging template; data accessibility and interoperability; data standards; metadata templates; movement ecology; sensors; telemetry; tracking

Published in

Methods in Ecology and Evolution

2021, volume: 12, number: 6, pages: 996-1007
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Sequeira, Ana M. M.
University of Western Australia
O'Toole, Malcolm
University of Western Australia
Keates, Theresa R.
University of California Santa Cruz
McDonnell, Laura H.
University of Miami
Braun, Camrin D.
University of Washington
Hoenner, Xavier
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Jaine, Fabrice R. A.
Macquarie University
Jonsen, Ian D.
Macquarie University
Newman, Peggy
Melbourne Museum
Pye, Jonathan
Dalhousie University
Bograd, Steven J.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Hays, Graeme C.
Deakin University
Hazen, Elliott L.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Holland, Melinda
Wildlife Comp
Tsontos, Vardis M.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Blight, Clint
University of St Andrews
Cagnacci, Francesca
Fondazione Edmund Mach
Davidson, Sarah C.
University of Konstanz
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Species Information Centre
Duarte, Carlos M.
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

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