Motus Wildlife Tracking System

Motus Wildlife Tracking Project is coordinated by Bird Studies Canada, and now includes dozens of collaborating Canadian and American institutions, agencies and independent researchers.  With small Motus towers in place from Nunavut, Canada to Chile, more than 10,000 animals representing more than 80 species, including songbirds, raptors, seabirds, bats, monarch butterflies and migratory dragonflies, have been tagged by dozens of participant researchers.  

Kirtland's Warbler: Scott Weidensaul

Kirtland's Warbler: Scott Weidensaul

Motus' goal is to combine dozens of individual research projects into a massive, collaborative, coordinated, hemispheric network of VHF nanotag receiver stations, allowing researchers to track the movements of flying animals too small to support traditional satellite or GPS telemetry. All participants use a single shared radio frequency, shared infrastructure, a shared database and (within reason) shared results. Movement tracks are presented on the Motus web site for public education in a way that does not jeopardize the publications or research interests of the individual cooperators. 

Nanotag transmitters currently weigh as little as 0.3g and all operate on 166.380 Mhz, emitting a coded microburst pulse that allows each individual tag to be instantly identified. Using the coded ID system, the receiver stations do not have to cycle through many different frequencies to locate a tagged animal—and any organism wearing a nanotag can be detected and continually tracked at any receiver station.