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Sci Data. 2018 Jan 30;5:170206. doi: 10.1038/sdata.2017.206.

Australia's continental-scale acoustic tracking database and its automated quality control process.

Author information

Australian Ocean Data Network, Integrated Marine Observing System University of Tasmania, Private Bag 110, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia.
Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Mosman, New South Wales 2088, Australia.
Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture and College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, New South Wales 2109, Australia.
CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, GPO Box 2583, Brisbane 4001, Australia.
Ecology and Evolution Research Centre, and School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia.
Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, School of Environment, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory 0909, Australia.
Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia.
Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Taylors Beach Rd, Taylors Beach, New South Wales 2316, Australia.


Our ability to predict species responses to environmental changes relies on accurate records of animal movement patterns. Continental-scale acoustic telemetry networks are increasingly being established worldwide, producing large volumes of information-rich geospatial data. During the last decade, the Integrated Marine Observing System's Animal Tracking Facility (IMOS ATF) established a permanent array of acoustic receivers around Australia. Simultaneously, IMOS developed a centralised national database to foster collaborative research across the user community and quantify individual behaviour across a broad range of taxa. Here we present the database and quality control procedures developed to collate 49.6 million valid detections from 1891 receiving stations. This dataset consists of detections for 3,777 tags deployed on 117 marine species, with distances travelled ranging from a few to thousands of kilometres. Connectivity between regions was only made possible by the joint contribution of IMOS infrastructure and researcher-funded receivers. This dataset constitutes a valuable resource facilitating meta-analysis of animal movement, distributions, and habitat use, and is important for relating species distribution shifts with environmental covariates.

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