OzTrack featured in AWMS newsletter

AWMS logo

An article describing the OzTrack project has been published in the recent newsletter of the Australasian Wildlife Management Society (AWMS). The article ‘OzTrack: new online software for the analysis of animal tracking data’ describes the functionality of the site and provides example tracks and home range estimates for two southern cassowaries fitted with GPS loggers.

kernel as google earth2

Home range kernels (95% and 50% KUDs) of two cassowaries, generated in OzTrack and featured in the July AWMS newsletter

This is the first release of the OzTrack project to the Australasian animal tracking community. Our hope is that wildlife managers and students will be able to use OzTrack’s tools to assist with their own research projects to help achieve positive conservation outcomes and/or improve species management.

Cassowary fitted with GPS-based telemetry device. Photo credits: Hamish Campbell

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Marine layers and new tools added to the OzTrack project

Image 1

The track of an Olive Ridley turtle off the west coast of Cape York, Queensland, Australia. The track is overlayed on the CARS2009 phosphate dataset with 40% opacity. The measuring tool shows clearly that the animal travels over 300 km from the Queensland coast.

After discussion with Australian and New Zealand researchers tracking animals in the marine environment, we are pleased to announce the addition of the CSIRO Atlas of Regional Seas (CARS 2009) climatological dataset to OzTrack.org.

Now OzTrack users can overlay their tracking data on a suite of georeferenced layers describing water properties across the world’s oceans. This includes sea surface temperature, salinity, sea surface height, oxygen, nitrate, silicate and phosphate. The data covers the full global oceans on a 0.5 degree grid and each cell holds the average/interpolated profile data for that locality.

With these recent additions, OzTrack now holds 21 environmental layers obtained from online geospatial repositories. We offer a ‘point-and-click’ querying tool to extract data from the animal’s track (i.e. animal ID, date, time and coordinates of the location fix) and the environmental characteristics of that locality (e.g. sea surface temperature, salinity). We have also increased the size of the map window, and added a measuring tool and opacity slider to the OzTrack toolkit.

It is our hope these recent additions will help our users tracking animals in both terrestrial and marine systems to better understand the environment in which their tagged animals inhabit.

Check out the new environmental layers at http://oztrack.org


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14 new environmental layers now available within OzTrack!

The OzTrack team are proud to announce that 14 new environmental layers have been incorporated into the OzTrack website. These layers may be queried from within OzTrack to provide spatial and temporal information on habitat preference and reserve design.

Along with Bathymetry and Elevation data obtained from General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), a map of Australian Natural Resource Management (NRM) Regional Boundaries is provided as well as a map of fire frequency using data from the NOAA Satellite Information System.

Fire and NRM

Your animal tracks may now be overlayed on maps of terrestrial and marine protected areas from CAPAD 2010 and Australia’s network of Commonwealth Marine Reserves. This may allow wildlife managers to investigate whether the current design of these areas is sufficient to protect their study species.

CAPD Commonwealth

We have incorporated land-use data from Australia’s Dynamic Land Cover dataset which reflect the structural character of vegetation. These range from cultivated and managed land covers (crops and pastures) to natural land covers such as closed forest and open grasslands.


With the National Vegetation Information System (NVIS) Groups and Subgroup layers, we provide the latest summary information (November 2012) on Australia’s present native vegetation. The input vegetation data were provided from over 100 individual projects representing the majority of Australia’s regional vegetation mapping over the last 50 years. Data were obtained from the Environmental Resources Information Network (ERIN), Department of Sustainability Environment Water Population and Communities.


Finally the IBRA (Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia) regions and subregion layers, and the IMCRA (Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation of Australia) provincial and mesoscale layers may also be visualised. These represent spatial units that contain broad patterns in biodiversity in the terrestrial and marine environment.

It is our hope to add more environmental layers to http://oztrack.org in the coming months.

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Who are the NeCTAR research community?

You will have seen the logos and read the blurbs, but have you ever met a researcher from another NeCTAR eResearch project?

On my last count there were 16 eResearch tools being constructed at various institutes around Australia. Although the substance of the projects vary considerably I am sure we have faced the same issues and share the same aspirations for our new research tool.

We have found ourselves outside the ivory tower. In an unfamiliar world where academic niceties don’t seem to apply. We all want our eResearch tool to be a game changer for our respective communities, but I now realise that it doesn’t end when the software is finished. That is just when the challenge begins. 

This blog is a call to those researchers to share advice that may assist others. This can be done through the blog or perhaps a conference/meeting can be arranged for later this  year.  

Show of our new toys!

Posted in NeCTAR Project, Uncategorized

What will be the future of OzTrack?

I wonder what will happen to our product when the money runs out? Who will host OzTrack? Who will answer all those user questions? Who will sort through the vast animal location data files uploaded by our users? I am sure similar questions are being asked across the  NeCTAR eResearch tools funding program. 

A possible way forward would be for the relative research community to host the project. In our case, OzTrack could be hosted by a well funded group or University already hosting a large amount of ecological data. This would also assist in collaborative links and the transfer of data and information. 

It would surely be a waste of money and resources for the products to fail at this stage. I recommend that over the coming months NeCTAR provide guidance to the steering committee from each project. Assist them in the transfer of their hard-earned product to a more a permanent home.

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Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and OzTrack

Left to right back: Yusuke Fukuda, Hawthorn Beyer, Todd Dennis, Norbert Menke, Hamish Campbell, Ross Dwyer, Craig Richardson, Matt Watts, James Forester, Mark Hindell<br />Front: Graham Taylor<br />

Left to right back: Yusuke Fukuda, Hawthorn Beyer, Todd Dennis, Norbert Menke, Hamish Campbell, Ross Dwyer, Craig Richardson, Matt Watts, James Forester, Mark Hindell
Front: Graham Taylor

The Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS) have funded two working groups to aid with the connection between OzTrack and the Australasian animal telemetry community.

The first meeting took place at Stradbroke Island in November 2012. It was attended by statisticians, population modellers, and field biologists: all with a common interest in tracking animals within Australasia.

The group discussed and produced insights for further  OzTrack development. They even identified issues that the OzTrack team had yet to consider. For example, what happens when a tagged animal crosses the east-west meridian line? Answer: it suddenly appears on the other side of the world.

The next working group meeting will take place in April 2013. We will be pondering (over a few beers, and some bare-foot bowls) how individual-based animal movement data collected from a range of different species can help to address some of the most serious environmental problems of Australia.

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Is OzTrack fulfilling the vision?

The development of OzTrack is well under way.

At this stage of the project it is valuable to sit-back and consider the overall purpose of the project. Is it achieving the objectives Matt Watts and I (Dr Hamish Campbell) envisaged those many moons ago. Those were: 1/ provide researchers with the necessary analytical tools; 2/ standardise the cataloging and analysis procedure; and  3/ create a data repository with open access.

Essentially, OzTrack enables biologists and wildlife managers to analyse their data to a capacity, which for many, may be beyond their technical means.

A goal of  OzTrack was to become a repository where by researchers, wildlife managers and policy makers could search through to find animal movement information from throughout Australasia.

Even though OzTrack is still in its infancy there are already a number of users. It is hoped that as the OzTrack community grows, researchers will perceive the benefits of data-sharing both for themselves and for Australian wildlife management and conservation.

As much as 95 % of the animal telemetry data collected in Australia over the past decade is stored on personal hard-drives. It it thus, inaccessible to the wider scientific community and redundant. I foresee OzTrack as a game changer in the field.

OzTrack is more than fulfilling its initial objectives. The software engineer (Charles Brooking) and the R-tools spatial analyst (Ross Dwyer) have taken our original vision and created something of profound significance for the Australian ecological  community.

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