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The Minerva Center

Past Activities

Gordon Research Conferece: Movement Ecology of Animals

March 19-24, 2017 - Ventura, CA


Animals move in diverse ways, from short foraging trips to seasonal trans-continental migrations, but common to all is that selection favours efficiency and prudent usage of energy, time and risk. The capacity to fly allows many animals to move quickly and cost efficiently, although muscle-powered flight is the most strenuous physical activity found. Swimming is even more cost-effective than flight (if measured as the energy cost to move a unit body mass over unit distance), while walking/running is more expensive than flying.
An animal on the move is assumed to interact with its environment and make movement decisions that result in different routes and behaviours. Information acquisition about the environment embraces the ecological context and the cues for navigation and orientation, dynamically interacting with the internal state of the animal. All in all, grasping the full complexity of animal movement requires combining tools, concepts and ideas across disciplines, making movement ecology a genuine trans-disciplinary field of research.
The new field "movement ecology" has seen an enormous growth over the last decade. Previously, movement studies have been strongly divided to different taxonomic groups and/or movement phenomenon. Such division led to many insights, but concepts and tools are rarely shared among specific groups, and there is no common ground for developing general theories. This conference served as an inroad to theoretical, methodological and applied consequences of animal movements at all possible scales. A major focus was the integration of theoretical frameworks hitherto applied to different animal groups, but where common grounds may cross-fertilize research in different systems. We heard lectures that crossed over between movement using different modes of locomotion and between different scales of movement, and there were many integrative discussions. From the conference website:
Chair: Anders Hedenstrom
Vice Chair: Ran Nathan (MCME Director)


Emerging high-throughput systems for wildlife tracking at the regional scale

Minerva School at the Hebrew University and in the Hula Valley
May 29-June 2, 2016
Participants: 70 - Conerence, 40 - School
The rapid development of movement ecology and the emergence of high-throughput methods for tracking wildlife are expected to drastically change the field both because these rich, high-quality datasets can help address key unanswered questions, and also because the associated methodological challenges will likely motivate the development of new tools and approaches. Regional-scale tracking systems such as ATLAS are expected to play a major role in this vein because they can yield much bigger datasets (by 3-6 orders of magnitude) on many more species and individuals compared to alternative approaches. Therefore, regional-scale systems are likely to become the major drivers of the movement informatics revolution. We thus anticipate subsequent development of high-throughput approaches, tools for data management and data analysis and important contributions to both basic and applied research.




Movement Ecology – Determining the Environmental Drivers of Movement

Workshop at the Hebrew University

February 14-18, 2016


Participants: 20
Workshop content: Env-DATA is a new interface in that links movement tracks with a large database of global environmental data from satellite images and global weather and ecosystem models. By providing easy access to environmental data in the places and times where movement information is available, Env-DATA facilitates research on the links between movement and the environment. The aim of this course is three-fold: (1) Cover basic material relevant to identifying environmental drivers of movement; (2) Introduce movebank/Env-DATA as portal to global environmental data for movement ecology; (3) Build models as tool to generate and test hypotheses about the effects of the environment on movement and its outcomes 
Topics taught: The Movement Ecology Paradigm, Modeling the atmosphere across scales, Movebank tutorial, Track annotation, Env-DATA and resources for contextual environmental information, Recursive movement patterns: review synthesis and empirical examples. Movebank annotation server tutorial, Hierarchical empirical modeling of environmental drivers of movement, Using movement to model habitat and range, Individual-based and random-walk approaches to movement modeling, Climate change and animal movement, Movement visualization workshop.
The workshop was led by Professor Gil Bhorer of the Ohio State University who is on sabbatical in Jerusalem this year.


Minerva Center for Movement Ecology 2014 Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting at the Hebrew University

September 1, 2014
The center's management would like to thank every member of the staff who arrived to for our second annual staff meeting. Aside from the ordinary annual meeting protocol, this meeting's primary subject was the ongoing ATLAS project: it's recent developments as well as goals for the coming year. A few technical presentations were made concerning changes made to the tag devices; antennas; and data management and database interfacing, and were followed by students' presentations demonstrating their ongoing academic reaserch. To conclude the meeting, future goals were summarized and discussed.



Complete meeting protocol can be found in our member-only section.



Symposium on Animal Movement and the Environment

Symposium at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

May 5-8, 2014


The goal of the symposium was to help usher in this data-rich, Golden Age of Movement Ecology. Through presentations, tutorials, and working groups, participants have learned how scientists are integrating information on animals and the environment to move beyond simply describing movements, toward testing hypotheses about movement ecology and the relationship between animals and their changing environment.


Link to the symposium website



NOVA Workshop: an Interactive Graphics-Scripting Platform for Education and Computational Research

 Workshop at the Hebrw University
February 2-6, 2014


  • Wayne Getz, University of California, Berkeley 
  • Richard Salter, Oberlin University, Ohio, USA
  • Nick Sippl-Swezey, University of California, San Francisco


Participants: 18


See the lectures on YouTube!


NOVA is a new, Java‐based, modeling platform that naturally supports the creation of models in the system dynamics, event‐oriented, and agent‐based modeling paradigms. NOVA uses a visual  language  to  express  model design and provides automatic conversion for such models to script form for execution. NOVA’s architecture promotes hierarchical design, code reuse and extensibility through the use of plug‐ins. The NOVA Website has been created to foster a vibrant user community by providing support for model and plug‐in construction, and user services such as online repositories for user‐contributed content. 



First Beirat Commitee Meeting: Overveiwing The Center's Activities and Progress

Committee Meeting in Onsabruck Germany
29-30 August, 2013


Participants: Prof Igor Sokolov (Beirat head), Prof. Jutta Schneider (Beirat member), Prof. Uriel Safriel (Beirat member), Prof. Ran Nathan (center director), Ms. Angelika Lange-Gao (Minerva Foundation).


Beirat Chair Summary: "The meeting held as planned with center director Nathan covering both past and planned activities, as well as various management, financial and research aspects. Mrs. Lange-Gao from Minerva Foundation added essential background on the Minerva Centers, expectations and rules. We find that the center is progressing remarkably well according to the proposed work, with various significant accomplishments in all three main objectives set for this center. The first objective, to train and promote young scientists studying movement ecology, has been advanced by means of student fellowships, a summer school (and another planned for 2014), and 3 fellowships for very promising post-docs. The second objective, to develop and promote scientific networks and trans disciplinary projects, has been implemented by launching the new open-access journal Movement Ecology (BMC/Springer) formally affiliated with the center (an outstanding accomplishment), one center-organized workshop, a large number of relevant international conferences attended by center members, visits to laboratories in Germany and Israel, and joint projects among Israeli members and with colleagues at Germany and other countries as well. The third objective, to develop innovative research tools, has been addressed by developing the ATLAS system (a unique and potentially ground-breaking development and an excellent example of the center's genuine trans disciplinary work), various telemetry tags, a lab-based movement database, and web-based analysis tools. Altogether, addressing these objectives has enabled center members to produce cutting-edge research outcomes (keynote presentations and publications in leading journals), and we expect further excellent contributions of this center to the emerging movement ecology research at the highest international level. The committee has approved the plan of activities and budget for 2014, as outlined in the last page below, including the recruitment of a new technical manager."

Complete meeting protocol can be found in our member-only section



Eco-hydrology of Semiarid Environments: "Confronting Mathematical Models with Ecosystem Complexity" Workshop at  Ben Gurion University

 Workshop at Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel
May 19-23, 2013
Participants: 75
This international workshop brought together top scientists in this field to work on the improvement of the predictive ability of mathematical models used in studies of ecology and hydrology of dry environments. The challenge of stepping towards the realization of mathematical models is in the cutting edge advancement of fields such as population spread, movement of seeds by water and wind, vegetation patterns, and ecosystem functioning. For more details, see



Minerva Center for Movement Ecology 2013 Annual Staff Meeting

Meeting in Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
February 13, 2013


Participants: 13
The first in a series of annual staff meetings, consisting of the center's Israeli management and board of main researchers was held for presenting and discussing a briefing of the center's activities thus far and an agenda for the future. Main issues that were brought up included main academic research objectives; technical developments; changes in research and management staff; budget plans and funding resources; interaction with external suppliers and businesses; publicity agenda, including the center's journal and website. In conclusion, a plan for the upcoming year, 2013, was made.


Complete meeting protocol can be found in our member-only section.



Advanced Tracking Systems for Movement Ecology Research in the Hula Valley 

Workshop at  Kfar Blum Pastoral Hotel, Hula Valley
November 27-29, 2012


Participants: 45
The purpose of this workshop was to bring together a total of 45 scientists and engineers to foster the development of a new Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) telemetry system in the Hula Valley. We believe that a fruitful dialogue is essential to the development of such a system, through which both developers and animal trackers will be able to understand the needs, limitations, goals, and main research themes of each group. Moreover, we are interested in strengthening collaboration with local partners on different aspects of system development and application. To this end, we organized this workshop as an initiative of the Minerva Center for Movement Ecology, with a clear vision to provide an advanced wildlife tracking system that would serve researchers of the Hula International Movement Ecology Research Center that we hope to establish near the Agmon area at the Hula Valley. 

See more in the Resources tab


PDFs of the talks are available for members in our member-only section





A Workshop in Movement Ecology: Analyzing Animal Movement Data


Workshop at the Hebrew University
29 July-2 August, 2012 
  • Luca Giuggioli, University of Bristol
  • Otso Ovaskainen, University of Helsinki
  • Henrik J. (Henjo) de Knegt, University of Helsinki
  • Ran Nathan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Participants: 27
Recent developments in tracking technologies have advanced the study of animal movement into a data-rich era, motivating the development of new theoretical frameworks and novel data analysis tools. The purpose of this workshop was to introduce some of the emerging methods for movement analysis to interested students. The course presented the theoretical background and scientific questions to which these methods were applied, and also covered issues of data exploration and processing and included practical hands-on computer exercises. The key topics included basic random walk models and state-space modeling, while lectures were followed by Matlab and R exercises.  
The workshop was given over five consecutive days during the summer vacation of 2012 at the Edmond J. Safra Campus at Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel. The participant list included MSc and PhD students, as well as post docs and other non-academic conservationists who had a background in ecology, studying biological/ecological/wildlife questions, and possibly human/particle movements in geography or physics as well. The course is limited to a maximum of 30 participants, who are expected to be familiar with basic programming in Matlab or in R, and have taken a basic statistics course.



Introduction to movement ecology

General concepts and framework


Analysis Tools

Sample Applications

Related Groups and Resources

PNAS 2008 Special Feature


Affiliated Journal