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Dynamic visualization of animal movement data and environmental variables





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Published on May 21, 2014

This animation shows the movements of adult Galapagos albatrosses making foraging trips to the west coast of South America during the breeding season in 2008. The color and thickness of the track lines indicates the net primary productivity, wind speed, flying speed, and tailwind (see legend in the video for details). By comparing the birds' movements with estimates of primary productivity (which represent food availability) we can see why these parents fly so far to feed their babies!

The animation was created by Glenn Xavier and Somayeh Dodge and was presented at the Symposium on Animal Movement and the Environment in Raleigh, NC, May 2014.

The animal tracks used to make this animation are stored at Movebank, and online database of animal tracking data ( in the study "Galapagos Albatrosses" and published in the Movebank Data Repository (doi:10.5441/001/1.3hp3s250). The environmental data visualized were annotated to the tracking data using the Env-DATA Track Annotation Service at The data are analyzed and described in the following article: Dodge, Somayeh, Bohrer, Gil, Weinzierl, Rolf, Davidson, Sarah C., Kays, Roland, Douglas, David, Cruz, Sebastian, Han, Jiawei, Brandes, David, and Wikelski, Martin. 2013. The Environmental-Data Automated Track Annotation (Env-DATA) System—linking animal tracks with environmental data. Movement Ecology 1:3. doi:10.1186/2051-3933-1-3

Wind data shown come from the NCEP Reanalysis 2 dataset provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, available from NPP data come from the Oregon State Ocean Net Primary Productivity (NPP) Reanalysis available from These and other environmental variables can be linked to animal movement data using the Env-DATA Track Annotation Service at


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