About Motus

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The Motus Wildlife Tracking System (hereafter Motus: Latin for movement or motion) is an international collaborative research network that uses cooperative automated radio telemetry to track small flying organisms (birds, bats, and insects). When compared to other technologies, automated radio telemetry currently allows researchers to track some of the smallest animals possible, with high temporal and geographic precision, over great distances. The system enables a community of researchers, educators, organizations, and citizens to undertake impactful, cost-effective, research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals.

Motus collaborators have contributed to hundreds of academic publications covering a wide range of disciplines such as breeding and post-breeding dispersal, stopover and migration behavior, habitat use, and overwintering ecology. Data collected by Motus is revolutionizing our understanding of migratory animals and is being used in conservation planning for species and sites, status assessments and recovery plans for species at risk, environmental assessment and mitigation planning for development projects, and contributing to numerous continental conservation efforts.

Motus is a program of Birds Canada in collaboration with a wide network of researchers and organizations.

How does Motus work?

The philosophy behind Motus is that we should all be working together. Motus collaborators (a community of researchers, non-government and government organizations, and individuals) deploy small radio transmitters affixed to animals that are tracked by Motus stations placed at strategic locations throughout the hemisphere. Depending on the configuration of a station, they can monitor tags continuously, or as they occupy space monitored by stations across the landscape up to 20km away.

In order for this concept to work, the system requires a centralized database and management system that all participants use. Most importantly, in order for your tags to be detected on any other station in the network, or for other project tags to be detected elsewhere, projects, receivers and tags need to be registered with, and have data processed by Motus Central at Birds Canada. While any automated telemetry project can operate in isolation, operating as a Motus project combines the collective impact of local, regional, and even hemispheric projects into one massive collaborative effort that expands the scale and impact of everyone’s work and optimizes scarce research and conservation dollars. It also makes data available and more useful for future projects, collaborative research and conservation endeavors and large-scale meta analyses.

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