Scharf, Anne K.

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Anne K.
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MoveApps : a serverless no-code analysis platform for animal tracking data

2022-07-18, Kölzsch, Andrea, Davidson, Sarah C., Gauggel, Dominik, Hahn, Clemens, Lang, Ilona, Scharf, Anne K., Schneider, Gabriel, Vinciguerra, Candace M., Wikelski, Martin, Safi, Kamran

Background

Bio-logging and animal tracking datasets continuously grow in volume and complexity, documenting animal behaviour and ecology in unprecedented extent and detail, but greatly increasing the challenge of extracting knowledge from the data obtained. A large variety of analysis methods are being developed, many of which in effect are inaccessible to potential users, because they remain unpublished, depend on proprietary software or require significant coding skills.

Results
We developed MoveApps, an open analysis platform for animal tracking data, to make sophisticated analytical tools accessible to a global community of movement ecologists and wildlife managers. As part of the Movebank ecosystem, MoveApps allows users to design and share workflows composed of analysis modules (Apps) that access and analyse tracking data. Users browse Apps, build workflows, customise parameters, execute analyses and access results through an intuitive web-based interface.

Apps, coded in R or other programming languages, have been developed by the MoveApps team and can be contributed by anyone developing analysis code. They become available to all user of the platform. To allow long-term and cross-system reproducibility, Apps have public source code and are compiled and run in Docker containers that form the basis of a serverless cloud computing system. To support reproducible science and help contributors document and benefit from their efforts, workflows of Apps can be shared, published and archived with DOIs in the Movebank Data Repository.

The platform was beta launched in spring 2021 and currently contains 49 Apps that are used by 316 registered users. We illustrate its use through two workflows that (1) provide a daily report on active tag deployments and (2) segment and map migratory movements.

Conclusions

The MoveApps platform is meant to empower the community to supply, exchange and use analysis code in an intuitive environment that allows fast and traceable results and feedback. By bringing together analytical experts developing movement analysis methods and code with those in need of tools to explore, answer questions and inform decisions based on data they collect, we intend to increase the pace of knowledge generation and integration to match the huge growth rate in bio-logging data acquisition.

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The Movebank system for studying global animal movement and demography

2022, Kays, Roland, Davidson, Sarah C., Fiedler, Wolfgang, Flack, Andrea, Kölzsch, Andrea, Partecke, Jesko, Quetting, Michael, Safi, Kamran, Scharf, Anne K., Schneider, Gabriel, Lang, Ilona, Landwehr, Matthias, van Schalkwyk, Louis, Weinzierl, Rolf, Wikelski, Martin

Quantifying movement and demographic events of free-ranging animals is fundamental to studying their ecology, evolution and conservation. Technological advances have led to an explosion in sensor-based methods for remotely observing these phenomena. This transition to big data creates new challenges for data management, analysis and collaboration. We present the Movebank ecosystem of tools used by thousands of researchers to collect, manage, share, visualize, analyse and archive their animal tracking and other animal-borne sensor data. Users add sensor data through file uploads or live data streams and further organize and complete quality control within the Movebank system. All data are harmonized to a data model and vocabulary. The public can discover, view and download data for which they have been given access to through the website, the Animal Tracker mobile app or by API. Advanced analysis tools are available through the EnvDATA System, the MoveApps platform and a variety of user-developed applications. Data owners can share studies with select users or the public, with options for embargos, licenses and formal archiving in a data repository. Movebank is used by over 3,100 data owners globally, who manage over 6 billion animal location and sensor measurements across more than 6,500 studies, with thousands of active tags sending over 3 million new data records daily. These data underlie >700 published papers and reports. We present a case study demonstrating the use of Movebank to assess life-history events and demography, and engage with citizen scientists to identify mortalities and causes of death for a migratory bird. A growing number of researchers, government agencies and conservation organizations use Movebank to manage research and conservation projects and to meet legislative requirements. The combination of historic and new data with collaboration tools enables broad comparative analyses and data acquisition and mapping efforts. Movebank offers an integrated system for real-time monitoring of animals at a global scale and represents a digital museum of animal movement and behaviour. Resources and coordination across countries and organizations are needed to ensure that these data, including those that cannot be made public, remain accessible to future generations.