Advances in GPS, GSM technologies open up possibilities in movement ecology. Now vast amounts of data are being collected to track animal movements with the aim of answering fundamental questions related to behaviour. As miniaturisation and efficiency of electronic components improves additional sensors can be coupled with GPS tracking to enable features related to the animal’s state at a given position to be recorded. New devices incorporate accelerometer and other sensors to enable classification of the behaviour of the animals tracked. Websites such as Movebank.org struggle to visualise the quantity of data points involved in some data sets and do not currently support visualisation or analysis of data from other sensors such as accelerometers or heart-rate loggers.
The hardware is becoming available but there is a need for software to display the large multisensory data sets produced now and becoming more prevalent in the future. This software is of paramount importance to enable researchers to analyse and visualise their data. This is especially relevant to understand how environmental conditions may affect the movement decisions of birds and the energetics of flight under changing environmental variables.
This project will take advantage of 5 years of tracking data comprising more than 100 white storks moving in Europe and Africa. White storks from Iberia have recently changed their migratory behaviour and non-migratory individuals have been reported in these previously wholly migratory populations. These rapid changes in migratory behaviour provide an opportunity to both identify the mechanisms through which complex and highly evolved behaviours are affected by changing environmental conditions. The project will also have access to tracking data from seabirds, such that 3D visualisations can be developed for animals in the marine realm incorporating GPS, accelerometer, immersion, time-depth and other types of at-sea movement and activity data. The key aim of this project is to develop techniques to visualise the data in 3D.
To develop techniques to efficiently render GPS data combined with additional sensor on a globe.
The tools should scale to enable data for up to 100 tracked birds.
The user should be able to interactively navigate the globe obtaining an overview and also zooming in to view the original data.
Understand the links between movement decisions of birds and the energetic costs of flying under different environmental conditions.
The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial / government / policy partners.
The student will be registered at University of East Anglia, hosted at School of Computing Sciences. They will be trained in visualization techniques for GPS data and GPU programming using C++, OpenGL and GLSL. The student will take training modules such as "Statistics and modelling for scientists in R", spend time at British Trust for Ornithology, benefitting from their experience on the Movetech project, and will also work with a variety of sensors for marine studies through supervision from British Antarctic Survey.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NexUSS CDT.
Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2016/17, the stipend was £14,296.
NI. Gilbert, R.A. Correia, JP Silva, C Pacheco, I Catry, PW. Atkinson, JA. Gill and AM Franco, Are white storks addicted to junk food? Impacts of landfill use on the movement and behaviour of resident white storks (Ciconia ciconia) from a partially migratory population, Movement Ecology, 2016, 4:7. DOI: 10.1186/s40462-016-0070-0
Mandel JT, Bildstein KL, Bohrer G, Winkler DW. Movement ecology of migration in turkey vultures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2008;105(49):19102-19107. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801789105.
Applications should be made to the University of East Anglia. The deadline for applications is 23:59 on 10 July 2017.