Leveraging Your Research with Global Networks

Conservation dollars are always limited, but the passion you have for the species you work with is certainly not. From terrapins to rodents, ungulates and birds, the CTT Internet of Wildlife (IoW) leverages a global network of researchers to help bring attention to your focused conservation work. In doing so, your study site becomes a member of groundbreaking research far beyond your boundaries, while answering the important questions of your study species. Doing so opens the door to new funding sources, more engaged donors, and unique outreach opportunities. Here are a few ways we can help you be successful.

First let's define the Internet of Wildlife (IoW). Like the Internet of Things (IoT) the IoW is really how we integrate various wildlife tracking systems across taxa, transmitter type, and transmission network. Let's look at an example to see how it works.

One of our partners studying Diamondback Terrapins has set up an array of CTT Nodes throughout a coastal marsh with the focused goal of mapping terrapin movement during juvenile dispersal. Another researcher at an unrelated institution has installed several SensorStations along the Delaware Bay shoreline to study movement and passage of a species of shorebird. Yet another organization has set up a smaller array of nodes on a nature preserve in Cape May to study the stopover duration and habitat use of five species of songbird banded at the site. Three distinct studies managed by three unrelated entities, but all using IoW technology that can communicate across all three infrastructures.

As all three projects progress, each focused project provides important data within the site where the project was defined. But, in addition, we start to see the unexpected relationships between them. Tagged shorebirds are picked up near terrapin habitat as they forage in the marsh within the CTT Node array. Songbirds too, are picked up by the SensorStations at both the terrapin site and along the Delaware Bay once they depart the stopover habitat on the preserve where they were being studied. In fact, one of the migratory songbirds is picked up on a SensorStation in Central Florida near another unrelated project, on its way south for the winter, further enhancing our understanding of migration connectivity in the species. In several years a real surprise happens, when a Terrapin comes ashore for the first time to nest, and its path mapped as it walks right through the CTT Node array at the songbird preserve!

A group of supporters of the Cape May Bird Observatory release a Snowy Owl.  It helps drive donors to educate people on wildlife movementMembers of the Cape May community observe the release of a tagged Snowy Owl as part of Project SNOWstorm. 

Now take it a step further. A researcher studying Snowy Owls deploys a transmitter that includes not only high-precision GPS which transmits data over the cellular network, but also contains a small radio that can detect the terrapins, songbirds and shorebirds wearing CTT LifeTags, and in fact, during its travels across the Boreal Forest and the Arctic Tundra it detects a Sanderling and Blackpoll Warbler, outfitted with LifeTags thousands of miles south in the previous year. These examples aren't science fiction, they're science fact - and they define the Internet of Wildlife.

With the Internet of Wildlife, we shatter the paradigm of single-stream data, and instead integrate physical structures, such as cellular towers, CTT SensorStations and CTT Nodes, with live sensors such as larger birds and other wildlife, into a high-tech sensor network that brings many more possibilities to wildlife tracking. In this example, two-way communication exists between large birds (Turkey Vulture and Golden Eagle in this diagram) and physical infrastructure, while one-way communication occurs between smaller animals and various receivers, including both SensorStations and Nodes, as well as the Golden Eagle and, via its GPS/GSM transmitter, the cellular tower.

By integrating your research into the Internet of Wildlife, you leverage the entire network in advocating, funding and raising awareness for your study species. In turn, you are contributing to the research of many others doing important work: the IoW is the proverbial tide that raises all boats. How do we know this? Because we're biologists and ecologists first and foremost, and we understand what makes granting agencies and philanthropic supporters tick: solid research projects that leverage partnerships, show measurable results, and engage stakeholders. The Internet of Wildlife hits all three!

By designing your research within the Internet of Wildlife paradigm you are naturally collaborating with hundreds of potential partners, without ever having to hold a conference call. The IoW is fully integrated into the MOTUS system of wildlife tracking, meaning once you deploy a SensorStation, CTT Node, LifeTag or PowerTag, you are part of the network! The fully scalable nature of our system means you can always add to, or modify your configuration to answer future questions, while still maintaining your collaborative position.

map of currently active Motus stations

Map of currently active MOTUS stations, courtesy of Motus.org

The IoW platform allows you to collect data on small species like never before, moving you from the "where" questions, to the more interesting "why" and "how". Traditional tracking systems get you as far as presence/absence, and in some cases, direction of travel. Integrating data across the IoW infrastructure gives you localization and movement across space in ways that allow you to answer the important questions such as how a species is using habitat, or how it is responding to landuse change.

Okay, we're going to say it. Movement data is sexy. Tracking wildlife remotely has long been a holy grail, and the IoW takes it to a whole new level. With little effort and our easy-to-use tools, you can develop visualizations of your tracking data that will help you better answer your research questions while wowing funding agencies and donors alike.

The Internet of Wildlife brings you the next generation of wildlife tracking with a lower barrier to entry than ever before. The scalable nature and low cost infrastructure and tags, means more funding for everything else that goes along with a strong research project. Your participation in a global collaboration elevates your project worthiness to granting agencies and private donors. The outcome is more results for your limited conservation dollars, and positioning your research where it will have the greatest possible impact and visibility.

Want to learn more? Check out our website, and when you've got a question or just want to chat, get in touch with us. We're always here to discuss your research, and get you on the road to your next research goal!