Global Wader Tracking Data Project

The GWTDP is intended to work as a directory of tracking studies. We record the details of the study, from the field – which species, sexes and ages; where and when – to aspects of the data, using a uniform data format across contributing studies. We encourage users to store their data in a repository such as Movebank, and can help with uploading historical data.

Users retain ownership of the datasets, unless open access option is selected by data owners themselves. Both Movebank and GWTDP offer varying levels of public visibility of the study, in order to allow identification by interested colleagues.

On our website will be a database where users can view those details of studies that data owners have agreed to share. This is intended to help trackers find each other, to share data and experiences from the field & further promote collaborative studies specifically aimed towards the conservation of waders.

Why track waders?
Electronic tracking provides data on the locations of waders, often at high spatiotemporal resolution and in (almost) real time, providing unprecedented detail on their movement behaviour and use of sites and habitats.

It also enables the year-round tracking of migratory species, including in areas where obtaining field observations is challenging.

Tracking can be especially useful when complementing, or complemented by, larger samples of birds with life-long tracking data from metal/colour rings.

Why register wader tracking projects?
Wader tracks can be used for multiple purposes! A study focusing on long-distance migration may also reveal interesting patterns of local site-use – and vice-versa. In the future, early tracking data may be especially valuable for understanding changes in wader movements over the coming century. To maximise the usefulness of tracking waders, the data need to be findable and useable.

Archiving wader tracks in an appropriate repository, with accurate documentation of how the data was collected and processed, as well as the using standardise data and meta-data formatting, is essential to ensure their long-term usability for science and conservation. Data must also be findable: currently, there is no way to find projects until (or unless!) the data is published, which often takes many years. This can create time lags in the availability of data, e.g. in time-critical conservation cases.

Registering studies is intended to be the first step in developing mutually-beneficial collaborations. For instance, two smaller projects tagging the same species at different parts of the flyway might both be able to increase the sample size available for their study questions of interest.

While tracking is a new technology for following birds, we feel that previous examples for ringing (EURING) and colour-ringing (IWSG’s Colour Mark Register) projects, and the BirdLife International Seabird Tracking Database for seabirds, provide persuasive examples of the usefulness of a central point-of-contact for tracking studies.

The GWTDP currently operates on a voluntary basis, as few national schemes require or taxon-specific bodies requires electronic trackers to be registered. We are working as a project of the International Wader Study Group in collaboration with Movebank.

Any questions, contact: