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April 7, 2023

Broadening the reach of USGS data through multiple distribution formats, platforms, and example code 

Since the mid-1980s, the USGS Alaska Science Center (ASC) scientists have used telemetry devices to study the migration of 26 species (and counting) of birds and mammals. Telemetry devices are small radio transmitters attached to animals. The transmitters track the animals' movement over time. The scientists process the data to get them into a standardized tabular format. They write detailed metadata and documentation that meet Federal accessibility standards. Detailed maps (animated, static, interactive, and Google Earth) are available to the public for each species. Summary graphs of the data show when and for how long the tracking occurred.  The USGS data for each species are distributed for free through many data platforms:  

  • The USGS website 

  • The globally popular tracking data platform, Movebank 

  • The Audubon Society’s online Bird Migration Explorer (bird data only) 

ASC is also working to make the tracking data available for teachers and students via the Tracking Animal Movement Explorer (TAME). This USGS tool allows users to interactively explore animal tracking migrations seasonally or by time of day, or by other animal characteristics such as sex or age. 

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