article / 29 April 2022

WILDLABS Virtual Meetups Season Four: Tracking Progress

This season, we’re bringing together leading engineers, conservationists, and academics to explore the future of technology in movement ecology and ask where exactly investment is needed to catapult this field forward. Join us to discuss emerging tools for movement data collection, analysis, and sharing, and to imagine future tech innovations that could answer questions we haven’t yet thought to ask.   

The recent explosion of cheaper, lighter, and more powerful animal-borne technologies for tracking and biologging have opened up paradigm-shifting opportunities for ecological research. Combined with the increased availability of high-resolution environmental data and analytical developments in movement modeling, these advancements are empowering movement ecologists to ask previously unanswerable or unimaginable questions. It’s clear that this discipline sits at the precipice of major breakthroughs that could revolutionize our understanding of animal movement and the natural world.

Recognizing these opportunities, experts are starting to identify immediate research gaps and needs, including real-time processing and remote data transmission, ethical and animal welfare methodologies, theoretical and mathematical foundations of the discipline, and multidisciplinary collaborations. However, we don’t yet have clear priorities for investment that consider a longer-term horizon for innovation and impact. Assessing gaps and opportunities through the framework of a horizon scan will enable prioritization and targeted investments that will catapult this field forward.

To address this gap, we are proud to introduce Tracking Progress, a new WILDLABS research project supported by the Moore Foundation’s Science Program and an advisory committee of movement ecology experts. In this project, we aim to harness the collective expertise of the global WILDLABS community through expertly facilitated virtual meetups and focus group discussions to conduct the first global horizon scan of tech in movement ecology. 

Virtual Meetup Season 4 Cover

What to Expect

We’ve planned the research around four key topic areas at the intersection of movement ecology and technology innovation. For each of the focus areas, we’ll convene a public virtual meetup to take a pulse on where current efforts stand and what people are asking about, followed by expert focus groups that dive more deeply into the topics to identify opportunities and priority areas of interest. By using virtual meetups to lay the groundwork for these more in-depth workshops, we can actively translate the takeaways from these open, exploratory, and always fascinating community discussions into research outputs with real potential to direct resources where they can make the most difference in this space.

To share research insights back with the community, we will publish a series of topic summaries highlighting findings for each area, and eventually, an academic research paper. Our goal is that the outputs of this work will deliver community-sourced recommendations to the Moore Foundation and other funders identifying key areas of investment highlighting emerging projects and people, research questions, and technology innovations with the potential to advance the field.

We hope you share our excitement for this season of Virtual Meetups and the future of Tracking Progress. We know that when we bring together community members who are passionate and willing to share their expertise, the resulting discussions lead to big steps forward for all of us. The huge response we’ve seen to our recent State of Conservation Technology publication is a testament to the power of our community speaking with a united voice, and we believe these new endeavors will be just as impactful and meaningful. By joining us at these Virtual Meetups, your ideas and questions will do more than just drive the conversations you’ve come to know and love - they’ll be actively laying the foundation for a global horizon scan that can have real significance to the future directions and investments in this field. We hope to see you there. 

Virtual Meetup Season 4 Event 1 Poster

Meetup 1: Data Collection in Movement Ecology

Date & Time

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

2:00-3:30pm BST / 9:00-10:30am EDT

Recordings of the individual talks, open discussion, and full meetup are available on the event page.

About the Session

Wildlife tracking technologies have already massively advanced our understanding of the natural world, from uncovering previously mysterious migration patterns and key movement corridors to demonstrating the impacts of anthropogenic pressures and climate change. Recent advances in the development of technologies for collecting and transmitting biologging data have unlocked the potential for fine-scale data collection at a near-global scale, which when integrated with remotely sensed environmental data offers an unprecedented biological lens into ecosystem health and environmental change (Jetz et al. 2022).

As conversations in this space are moving beyond just the immediate hardware limitations and toward what’s needed to realize the potential of such globally coordinated data collection, we are bringing together leading researchers in the field to discuss the latest advances, trickiest challenges, and what the future could hold. Some of the key topics to be discussed include overcoming remaining hurdles in biologger design and development, establishing standards across devices and manufacturers, ethical and effective tag attachments, and next-generation communications networks to facilitate data retrieval. Join the live event to learn more and share your ideas!

Agenda

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Roland Kays, Research Professor at North Carolina State University and the Head of the Biodiversity Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences
  • Melinda Holland, President and CEO at Wildlife Computers
  • Yuuki Watanabe, Associate Professor, National Institute of Polar Research, University of Tokyo
  • Vikram Iyer, Assistant Professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington
  • Open discussion and community exchange
  • Takeaways and wrap up

Virtual Meetup Season 4 Event 2 Poster

Meetup 2: Data Analysis in Movement Ecology

Date & Time

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

4:00-5:30pm BST / 11:00am-12:30pm EDT

Recordings of the individual talks, open discussion, and full meetup are available on the event page.

About the Session

As discussed in our first event about Data Collection, advancements in technologies for collecting and transmitting biologging data are opening up paradigm-shifting opportunities for ecological research and management. However, these advancements have brought with them typical big-data challenges, including computational load, intensive data management and processing, and difficult statistical analyses, which require innovative and collaborative approaches to overcome (Nathan et al. 2022).

In this event, we are bringing together leading experts in the realms of AI for conservation, computational movement analytics, big data analysis, and even neuroscience to discuss the latest advances and what’s on the horizon in movement data analysis. Some of the key topics to be discussed include analysis workflows and methodological considerations, overcoming the challenges associated with the spatiotemporal mismatch in data sources, and improving the integration and synthesis of existing analysis solutions.

Agenda

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Sara Beery, NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Caltech
  • Somayeh Dodge, Assistant Professor of Spatial Data Science at UC Santa Barbara
  • Christen Fleming, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
  • Mackenzie Mathis, Bertarelli Foundation Chair of Integrative Neuroscience; Assistant Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne
  • Open discussion and community exchange
  • Takeaways and wrap up
https://www.wildlabs.net/event/wildlabs-virtual-meetup-data-analysis-movement-ecology

Meetup 3: Data Sharing & Archiving in Movement Ecology

Date & Time

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

3:00-4:30pm BST / 10:00-11:30am EDT

Recordings of the individual talks, open discussion, and full meetup are available on the event page.

About the Session

Global and regional collaborations are leading the way in advancing tools for movement ecology, from coordinated sensor networks like Motus to platforms like Movebank for sharing and curating data. However, we still have a long way to go in making existing datasets easily discoverable, comparable, and accessible in order to ensure interoperability and enable the effective translation of data into research and management insights (Sequiera et al. 2021). 

In this event, we'll bring together a panel of experts leading collaborative efforts in movement data sharing and archiving across sectors to discuss the latest advances and what’s on the horizon. Some of the key topics to be discussed include standardizing data protocols, defining and securely archiving sensitive data, and exploring what infrastructure is needed to integrate across or merge existing data platforms and support long-term access.

Agenda

  • Welcome and introductions (5 min)
  • Sarah Davidson, Movebank PI and Data Curator, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (5 min opening talk)
  • Abby Benson, Biologist, Science Analytics and Synthesis (SAS), USGS (10 min)
  • Stuart Mackenzie, Director of Strategic Assets, Birds Canada (10 min)
  • Rafael Antelo, Wildlife Connect Leader/Pantanal Chaco (PACHA) Landscape Coordinator (10 min)
  • Open discussion and community exchange (45 min)
  • Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)

Meetup 4: Future Questions & Tools Movement Ecology

Date & Time

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

3:00-4:30pm BST / 10:00-11:30am EDT

Register here.

About the Session

Despite the many inspiring advancements covered in this series thus far, enormous potential remains untapped in movement ecology. Recent literature suggests that discipline sits at the precipice of major breakthroughs that would unlock previously unimaginable insights into the natural world. Some of these efforts are nearly there, and with support can quickly scale to impact, but other areas require longer-term investment in blue-sky innovation. 

In this fourth and final event, we’re bringing together four of the brightest minds and most creative innovators pushing the boundaries of movement ecology to discuss the latter - to hear their perspectives on what future tools may arise to completely alter the course of the discipline, and what questions we may one day be able to ask and answer.

Agenda

  • Welcome and introductions (5 min)
  • Christian Rutz, Professor of Biology at the University of St Andrews and President of the International Bio-Logging Society (5 min opening talk)
  • Martin Wikelski, Director of the Department of Migration of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Honorary Professor at the University of Konstanz, and Icarus lead (10 min)
  • Tanya Berger-Wolf, Co-founder & Director Wild Me and Director of the Translational Data Analytics Institute at The Ohio State (10 min)
  • Ran Nathan, Professor of Ecology, Movement Ecology Lab, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (10 min)
  • Open discussion and community exchange (45 min)
  • Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)

Registration

Ready to learn more and share your ideas? Join us by registering here for the Virtual Meetup!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. If you have any problems, get in touch with Talia Speaker at [email protected].

Can't make it to a meetup this season? Don't worry! You can find every meetup after it airs on our Youtube channel.


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