A project hosted by the Zoological Society of London ZSL

Understanding organismal behaviour in space and time is vital to our ability to protect and preserve those organisms and to predict that behaviour in the future. This is critical for species that may be vulnerable to drivers of environmental change. In particular, understanding the movement and spatial dynamics of individuals, the interactions between them and their environment, and the variation in important spatial locations and patterns is vital.

Tracking technologies are often expensive, inflexible, inappropriate (size, range, functionality, weight), and labour intensive, limiting both the applicability and scale of ecological and behavioural studies. In addition, even when data are collected, few if any computational and software tools exist to analyse the data easily and accurately, or to enable the development and testing of predictive models that use the data.

Mataki is an open, reconfigurable, flexible, wirelessly-enabled, low-cost tracking technology that comes with a set of software tools to help analyse the data gathered. Mataki differs from other low-cost tracking devices in being wirelessly enabled, low-cost and readily reprogrammable. Data can therefore be retrieved without necessarily recovering devices and researchers can explore novel tracking approaches by developing their own firmware.

To date, applications have been focused on the migratory and foraging behaviour of pelagic seabirds, but these small tracking devices could be placed on many different taxa. Moreover the platform is an open design with open software, so researchers can choose to modify the existing designs as their projects require, with a number of solutions provided for most common tracking problems.

We provide access to the schematics, layouts and parts lists for the devices (see the Making Devices page), to documentation on using the available firmware as well as open source access to the firmware and API documentation. We’re keen to make these devices as accessible as possible, so please get in touch if you have ideas on how to improve the devices.