Finding our way: On the sharing and reuse of animal telemetry data in Australasia

Hamish Campbell, Hawthorne L. Beyer, Todd E. Dennis, R Dwyer, James D. Forester, Yusuke Fukuda, C Lynch, Mark Hindell, Norbert Menke, Juan M. Morales, Craig Richardson, E Rodgers, Graeme Taylor, Matthew Watts, David Westcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The presence and movements of organisms both reflect and influence the distribution of ecological resources in space and time. The monitoring of animal movement by telemetry devices is being increasingly used to inform management of marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Here, we brought together academics, and environmental managers to determine the extent of animal movement research in the Australasian region, and assess the opportunities and challenges in the sharing and reuse of these data. This working group was formed under the Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS), whose overall aim was to facilitate trans-organisational and transdisciplinary synthesis. We discovered that between 2000 and 2012 at least 501 peer-reviewed scientific papers were published that report animal location data collected by telemetry devices from within the Australasian region. Collectively, this involved the capture and electronic tagging of 12 656 animals. The majority of studies were undertaken to address specific management questions; rarely were these data used beyond their original intent. We estimate that approximately half (~ 500) of all animal telemetry projects undertaken remained unpublished, a similar proportion were not discoverable via online resources, and less than 8.8% of all animals tagged and tracked had their data stored in a discoverable and accessible manner. Animal telemetry data contain a wealth of information about how animals and species interact with each other and the landscapes they inhabit. These data are expensive and difficult to collect and can reduce survivorship of the tagged individuals, which implies an ethical obligation to make the data available to the scientific community. This is the first study to quantify the gap between telemetry devices placed on animals and findings/data published, and presents methods for improvement. Instigation of these strategies will enhance the cost-effectiveness of the research and maximise its impact on the management of natural resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume534
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

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