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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Wildlife tracking data management: a new vision

Urbano, Ferdinando; Cagnacci, Francesca; Calenge, Clement; Dettki, Holger; Cameron, Alison; Neteler, Markus


To date, the processing of wildlife location data has relied on a diversity of software and file formats. Data management and the following spatial and statistical analyses were undertaken in multiple steps, involving many time-consuming importing/exporting phases. Recent technological advancements in tracking systems have made large, continuous, high-frequency datasets of wildlife behavioural data available, such as those derived from the global positioning system (GPS) and other animal-attached sensor devices. These data can be further complemented by a wide range of other information about the animals' environment. Management of these large and diverse datasets for modelling animal behaviour and ecology can prove challenging, slowing down analysis and increasing the probability of mistakes in data handling. We address these issues by critically evaluating the requirements for good management of GPS data for wildlife biology. We highlight that dedicated data management tools and expertise are needed. We explore current research in wildlife data management. We suggest a general direction of development, based on a modular software architecture with a spatial database at its core, where interoperability, data model design and integration with remote-sensing data sources play an important role in successful GPS data handling.


GPS tracking; biotelemetry; wildlife ecology; spatial database; data modelling; GIS

Published in

Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
2010, Volume: 365, number: 1550, pages: 2177-2185
Publisher: ROYAL SOC