U of I Researchers Help Introduce First-Of-Its-Kind Arctic Animal Database
November 10, 2020
MOSCOW, Idaho — Nov. 10, 2020 — Two University of Idaho College of Natural Resources faculty, a student and a former U of I researcher are among the authors of an Arctic animal research paper that introduces a first-of-its-kind database and was published this week in Science, the premier scientific journal in the United States.
In "Ecological Insights from Three Decades of Animal Movement Tracking Across a Changing Arctic," U of I student Jyoti Jennewein, professors Jan Eitel and Lee Vierling, as well as Arjan Meddens, a former postdoctoral fellow at U of I, collaborated with a team of 160 scientists worldwide to present the animal movement database.
The paper introduces the Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA), a massive database that can be used to show how different species have reacted to human-caused and environmental changes over the past three decades.
The authors discuss what effect an Arctic-wide animal-movement database will have on future animal research in a global Arctic environment undergoing climate change.
Since 1991, scientists from around the world have been tracking animals in the Arctic using a variety of tracking methods. The archive hosts more than 15 million animal location points from 96 species based on a collection of 201 terrestrial and marine animal-tracking studies.
“Researchers have increasingly relied on animal tracking data in these remote regions to understand individual species’ responses,” according to the editors at Science.“But if we want to really understand larger scale change, we need to integrate our understanding across species.”
Using the AAMA data, scientists can see the effect of climate change on animal migration patterns from caribou and eagles to whales, as well as a host of predators and prey species.
“This archive allows any researcher to look at different kinds of animals, as well as animal interactions such as predator and prey relationships and how they are changing,” said Vierling, a distinguished professor of global ecology.
The archive includes data from the boreal zone below the Arctic circle to the far north regions of Asia, Europe and North America.
“The Arctic is changing very fast with the rate of climate change,” Vierling said. “This archive provides society with a window to see how animals are responding.”
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