discussion / Biologging  / 12 September 2023

What is your favorite package or software for visualizing animal tracking data?

Hi all,

I manage a large research collaborative focused on conservation applications of animal tracking data (Smithsonian's Movement of Life Initiative).  I'm interested in putting together a workshop on the latest in data visualization techniques for animal tracking data (terrestrial, avian, and/or aquatic species) and wondering what packages or programs people would recommend. Also, if you're a rep or developer associated with any of these products, I'd love to talk to you about participating in the workshop. Thanks!



I have previously visualized movement data in Google Earth with .gpx files created using https://www.gpsvisualizer.com/

Now, I am a keen user of https://www.firetail.de/



Hi Lacey,

(thanks Lars for the praise!) 

as a developer I am certainly biased, but especially for GPS, acceleration data and advanced sensors like IMU and to analyze large amounts of data interactively Firetail (https://www.firetail.de) is really great. 

We know that a lot of our users use Firetail for most interactive exploration and during data capturing, for example to identify crucial time windows, and then use R to apply highly specific algorithms to achieve publication visuals. But more and more, Firetail will also assist with this part. We also have enthusiastic feedback for large scale annotation (state assignment) of acceleration and GPS data, like from the MPI-AB animal tracker project (housecats).

For now, as far as I know, there are fewer projects with aquatic species that use Firetail, but extending Firetail in this direction (depth sensors, 3D view and topological sea maps) is well in scope.

Firetail is developed in close contact with our users, primarily researchers and conservationists, so that we can tailor the product to their use cases, but we also use it in-house for our analysis and services, so we recognize required workflows. 

We have also developed methods for visualizing really large datasets (like high-resolution multi-year data) that can be displayed in Firetail as well as custom pipelines, e.g. to virtually capture the entirety of all movebank data (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c38CJwOw3e4).

Regarding the workshop, feel free to contact me.


[edit: working links]

Hi Lacey, interesting workshop you are putting together. You might want to consider using MoveApps (www.moveapps.org) for having people develop user-tailored visualisation Apps and run them there. Unfortunately, we are a bit short on good visualisations up to now, there are a few you might want to check out (https://www.moveapps.org/apps/browser) and the community of App developers is growing. In the process of setting up a Forum for moveapps, visualisations might be something to request there. Best, Andrea 

Hi Lacy, just seeing this now. Take a look at TAME, our Tagged Animal Movement Explorer. It's free, very easy to use and you can make your data public or private. It's so fun to explore the tagging data from diverse groups - I learn a lot each time. Ben