From April 23 – 26, 2018, representatives from the OTN Data Centre (Lenore Bajona, Jon Pye and Brian Jones) attended the OBIS-ENV Workshop for Animal Tagging and Tracking, at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Project Office for the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE), in Oostende, Belgium. The purpose of the workshop was to define a way of mapping data from the broad range of animal telemetry activities into the OBIS-ENV-DATA standard. Twenty-two representatives of major animal telemetry networks serving Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA were in attendance.
Until recently, submissions to the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), the most widespread online database of marine biodiversity, focused on observed biological abundance of species in a specific time and place. In response to the growth of animal tagging and tracking technology and the newfound ability to measure oceanographic variables, alongside highly resolved animal locations and movement, OBIS proposed the OBIS-ENV-DATA format. The format goes beyond species occurrences to combine biological and environmental measurements as well as sampling methods and effort.
This year’s workshop was the first follow up of the pilot project, OBIS-Event-Data for Scientific Application. The project aims to improve and extend the OBIS-ENV-DATA format for various scientific purposes within the framework of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and to provide useful data to support the work of the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network of the Group on Earth Observations (GEOBON MBON).
At the IODE/OBIS workshop, the tagging and tracking community defined pathways for formatting the data collected through various tagging methods and experiment types into the OBIS-ENV-DATA standard. Building on a white paper titled Toward a new data standard for combined marine biological and environmental datasets – expanding OBIS beyond species occurrences, participants settled on the most efficient way to use the standard for sharing acoustic and satellite information through OBIS, making it easier to exchange and publish data into the system. Participants also committed to the development of data aggregation tools to calculate animal home ranges, migration pathways and movement patterns using the systems’ “raw” detection data; a set of tools that will deliver benefits to the entire biodiversity community.