Background: Over the past 15 years, the integration of localised passive telemetry networks into centralised data repositories has greatly enhanced our ability to monitor the presence and movements of highly mobile and migratory species. These large-scale networks are now generating big data, allowing meta-analyses across multiple species, locations, and temporal scales. Broad-scale comparisons of animal movement metrics are constrained by the use of diverse analytical techniques among researchers. Accordingly, there is a need for a tool-set to assist in calculating animal movement metrics that can be easily applied to datasets from local studies to large-scale cooperative networks.
Results: We present a standardised framework and an associated analysis tool-set that facilitates the calculation of a range of activity space and movement metrics for passive telemetry datasets. Application of the tool-set is demonstrated using data from the Integrated Marine Observing System continental-scale network of underwater acoustic receivers. We show how the metrics can: (1) be directly compared among multiple species monitored at multiple sites; (2) be compared among multiple species tagged at a single study site; and (3) assess changes in activity space metrics over time.
Conclusions: Establishing a framework and tool-set to analyse data from large-scale networks progresses the field of passive telemetry beyond the traditional individual-, species-, or location-centric approaches to facilitate national- or international-scale outputs that better address important questions in the field of movement ecology.