A large-scale automated radio telemetry network for monitoring movements of terrestrial wildlife in Australia

  • September 16, 2019
  • by Griffin, A.S., Brown, C., Woodworth, B.K., Ballard, G.A., Blanch, S., Campbell, H.A., Crewe, T.L., Hansbro, P.M., Herbert, C.A., Hosking, T. & Hoye, B.J.,


Technologies for remotely observing animal movements have advanced rapidly in the past decade. In recent years, Australia has invested in an Integrated Marine Ocean Tracking (IMOS) system, a land ecosystem observatory (TERN), and an Australian Acoustic Observatory (A2O), but has not established movement tracking systems for individual terrestrial animals across land and along coastlines. Here, we make the case that the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, an open-source, rapidly expanding cooperative automated radio-tracking global network (Motus, provides an unprecedented opportunity to build an affordable and proven infrastructure that will boost wildlife biology research and connect Australian researchers domestically and with international wildlife research. We briefly describe the system conceptually and technologically, then present the unique strengths of Motus, how Motus can complement and expand existing and emerging animal tracking systems, and how the Motus framework provides a much-needed central repository and impetus for archiving and sharing animal telemetry data. We propose ways to overcome the unique challenges posed by Australia’s ecological attributes and the size of its scientific community. Open source, inherently cooperative and flexible, Motus provides a unique opportunity to leverage individual research effort into a larger collaborative achievement, thereby expanding the scale and scope of individual projects, while maximising the outcomes of scant research and conservation funding.