GPU-Accelerated 3D Visualisation and Analysis of Migratory Behaviour of Long Lived Birds

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Computing Sciences


Advances in GPS, GSM technologies has opened up possibilities in the field of movement ecology. Now vast amounts of data are being collected to track animal movements with the aim of answering fundamental questions related to animal behaviour. As miniaturisation and efficiency of electronic components improves additional sensors can begin to be coupled with the GPS tracking to enable features related to the animal's state at a given position to be recorded. New devices incorporate accelerometer and other sensors to enable classification of the behaviour of the animals they tracked. Websites such as struggle to visualise the quantity of data points involved in some data sets and they do not currently support visualisation or analysis of data from other sensors such as accelerometers or heart-rate loggers.
The hardware is becoming available but there is a need for software to display the large multisensory data sets which are being produced now and will inevitably become more prevalent in the future. This software is of paramount importance to enable researchers to analyse and visualise their data. This is especially relevant to understand how environmental conditions may affect the movement decisions of birds and the energetics of flight under changing environmental variables.

This project will take advantage of 5 years of tracking data comprising more than 100 white storks moving in Europe and Africa. White storks from Iberia have recently changed their migratory behaviour and non-migratory individuals have been reported in these previously wholly migratory populations. These rapid changes in migratory behaviour provide an opportunity to both identify the mechanisms through which complex and highly evolved behaviours are affected by changing environmental conditions. The project will also have access to tracking data from seabirds, such that 3D visualisations can be developed for animals in the marine realm incorporating GPS, accelerometer, immersion, time-depth and other types of at-sea movement and activity data. The key aim of this project is to develop techniques to visualise the data in 3D.
1) To develop techniques to efficiently render GPS data combined with additional sensor on a globe.
2) The tools should scale to enable data for up to 100 tracked birds.
3) The user should be able to interactively navigate the globe obtaining an overview and also zooming in to view the original data.
4) Understand the links between movement decisions of birds and the energetic costs of flying under different environmental conditions.


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