eEcology

Virtual laboratories for inspiration and discovery in ecology

Image: UvA-BiTS

Bird behavior varies for different species and types of birds, and even between genders. To understand bird behavior, we have to track their movement and behavior at multiple scales in space and time – no easy task. At the University of Amsterdam a team of researchers have developed a bird tracking system (UvA-BiTS) designed to answer the needs of people with diverse research aims. In the summer of 2008 the team did the first tests with their newly developed GPS trackers. Since then, tags have been deployed on many bird species including Oystercatchers, Crows, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Montagu’s Harriers, Honey Buzzards, Common Buzzards, Storks, Brent Geese (all in the Netherlands), Crab Plovers (in Oman), Stone Curlews (in Israel), Great Skua (on the Shetland Islands), Griffon Vultures (in France and Spain), and Verreaux’s Eagle (South Africa).

Key features of the UvA Bird Tracking System include a solar powered, lightweight GPS tag with rechargeable batteries, multiple onboard sensors including a tri-axial accelerometer, two way data-communication to a ground station network, automated data processing and visualization. The combination of programmability and two-way data communication is a unique feature that enables the user to tailor the measurement scheme to the needs of the research while the tag is still on the bird. Using the Virtual Lab, an eScience research infrastructure for handling the massive amounts of data that can be obtained with the UvA-BiTS system, researchers can study migration, navigation, and foraging strategies of birds on land and at sea.

This project shows that ecology is evolving into a data and computationally intensive science with the amount of (heterogeneous) data included for analysis increasing rapidly with time. Traditionally, ecologists are not trained in coping with the massive amounts of data that result from data sharing, sensor networks and the incorporation of environmental data into ecological research. Generally, the methodologies ecologists use for management, visualization, exploration, analysis of data are often not suited to cope with large data sets. The challenge of the eEcology project is to bridge the gap between the worlds of ecology and technology. Virtual Labs (VLs) will help to bridge this gap as they support scientific collaboration through facilitating data access, data integrity and quality control, data post-processing, data storage and backup, data merging, data sharing, interactive data visualization, and data analysis.

Most effort has gone into the Bird Movement Modeling Virtual Lab. This Virtual Lab has a growing international user community, whose users are mainly field biologists using the VL to track individual birds. In the VL, the track data from the UvA-BiTS system can be combined with, for example, landscape data, weather data, and tidal data to gain new insights on the influence of the environment on the bird’s behavior.

This project page covers two projects, eScience project "eEcology" (project number 027.011.305) and its extension funded by the UvA IBED group.

Participating organisations

Environment & Sustainability
Environment & Sustainability
LifeWatch ERIC
Netherlands eScience Center
Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
SURFsara
University of Amsterdam
Wageningen University & Research

Impact

Output

Team

WB
Willem Bouten
Principal investigator
University of Amsterdam
Elena Ranguelova
Elena Ranguelova
Technical Lead
Netherlands eScience Center
Jurriaan H. Spaaks
Jurriaan H. Spaaks
Senior eScience Research Engineer
Netherlands eScience Center
Stefan Verhoeven
Senior eScience Research Engineer
Netherlands eScience Center

Related projects

A new perspective on global vegetation water dynamics from radar satellite data

Global vegetation water dynamics using radar satellite data

Updated 1 month ago
Finished

eWaterCycle

Overcoming the challenge of locality using a community multi-model environment

Updated 7 days ago
Finished

eEcoLiDAR

eScience infrastructure for ecological applications of LiDAR point clouds

Updated 19 months ago
Finished

BirdRadar

A novel filtering method to estimate bird densities

Updated 19 months ago
Finished

Large Scale Data Assimilation in the eWatercycle global hydrological model

Handling data assimilation on a large scale

Updated 15 months ago
Finished

eEcology

Virtual laboratories for inspiration and discovery in ecology

Updated 14 months ago
Finished

eWaterCycle I

Global water information when it matters

Updated 7 days ago
Finished

Related software

eEcology Annotation Tool

EE

Visualize and annotate GPS measurements of bird movements.

Updated 23 months ago
6 1

eEcology-SMS-reciever

EE

If you have birds flying around carrying UvA-BiTS trackers, then this software can save the SMS messages containing the bird's last known positions which are sent by the tracker to the UvA Bird tracking system's central database.

Updated 23 months ago
1

eEcology Tracker calendar

EE

Calendar overview with daily statistics of GPS-trackers used to track bird movements.

Updated 23 months ago
2 1

eEecology Classification

EE

Automatic classification of accelerometer data using a supervised learning approach.

Updated 23 months ago
5 1