Building a Bioanalytical Theory for Analysis of Marine Mammal Movements

  • Start Date: 05/04/2015
  • End Date: 05/08/2015

University of British Columbia


This Peter Wall Institute Roundtable will be a first step toward a new subfield of bioanalytics concerned with both biomonitoring (using animals to explore inaccessible habitats) and biologging (tracking animals to characterize their behavior). Thanks to modern technology, the devices used in each case generate massive datasets well beyond the capacity of conventional tools for statistical analysis. Yet these data sets could potentially hold a great deal of knowledge about the natural world as it undergoes climate change.


Objectives: The Roundtable will create a multidisciplinary and international team of experts, first to define this new science and its boundaries, and second to lead the development of applications for the resources to create the needed new analytical tools. The intrinsically complex nature of the issues to be addressed needs multidisciplinary collaboration. The Peter Wall Institute provides an ideal environment in which to convene this team, a group with diverse expertise but a common interest in marine mammals and the information to be gained by monitoring them. Their task will include amongst other things, the identification of the big and pressing scientific questions that might be answered by the information extracted from the data produced by the monitors (tags) now being mounted on quite a variety of different animal species. This discussion would ineluctably suggest unsolved problems in the new world of big and high dimensional data analysis, one of UBC’s current areas of active development.


Broad impacts: New questions arising from these advanced data-collection devices, and the answers provided by bioanalytics, can be expected to have an important impact on public policies, by allowing a better understanding of the dynamics of the animal populations that inhabit different ecosystems, and how they adapt and react to a rapidly changing environment.

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