Argos, a key component of global animal observation networks
Two recent articles published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science magazine, “Terrestrial animal tracking as an eye on life and planet” (Kays et al.) and “Aquatic animal telemetry: A panoramic window into the underwater world” (Hussey et al.) point to the new era of animal ecology, where animals are not only “observed” by scientists, but are also “observers,” providing important observations of their environments to the scientific community. The Argos satellite telemetry system is one of the crucial technologies that make this new science possible, by associating tracking data (animal positions) with sensor data (direct environmental observations) on a global scale.
Improvements in tag technology (miniaturization, battery life-time) have lead to a greater diversity of species being tracked and more data being collected. The global scientific community is increasingly moving toward structured networks to share these data. These themes are explored by Kays et al. for terrestial animals and by Hussey et al. for aquatic animals. As animal tracking science enters its “golden age”, the Argos satellite system will continue to provide observations of animals and of their environment, whether it be terrestrial or aquatic.