Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT): an integrated system for archiving, analyzing and mapping animal tracking data
Despite the obvious power and advantages of the Argos system to track animals by satellite, the data generated are difficult for many biologists to exploit. A broad range of skills is required to efficiently download, collate, filter and interpret Argos data. Integration of animal movements with other physical (e.g. remote sensing imagery) and anthropogenic (e.g. fishery distributions) datasets presents additional technical and computing challenges. The Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT) is a freely available system designed for biologists who work on animal tracking; it includes a set of standardized tools and techniques for data management, analysis, and integration with environmental data. STAT logs in to the Argos computer network each day and downloads all available locations and associated data for each user. These data are parsed and stored in a relational database and automatically backed up to an offsite location. A number of data filtering options are available, including setting maximum speed, time or distance between consecutive points, Argos location class, and turning angle. A variety of environmental data layers, including bathymetry, sea surface temperature, sea surface height, ocean currents and chlorophyll, can be sampled for all locations in the STAT database and can be downloaded and incorporated into tracking maps and animations. STAT also facilitates collaboration and the sharing of animal tracking information with the wider public and funding organizations. We hope that STAT will act as a catalytic foundation, fostering collaboration among users of satellite telemetry, and ensuring maximum value from these studies.