center for synthesis
and analysis of biodiversity

A centre created and developed by the FRB
Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking data (RAATD) to identify areas of ecological significance in the Antarctic

Project leader: Yan Ropert-Coudert, Centre d'Etudes biologique de Chizé (CNRS - Université La Rochelle), France (

Postdoctoral member: Ryan Reisinger.

Participants : Horst Bornemann, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany ; Jean-Benoît Charrassin, LOCEAN, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France; Bruno Danis, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Mark Hindell, University of Tasmania, Australia ; Luis Huckstadt, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA ; Ian Jonsen, Macquarie University, Australia; Ben Raymond, Australian Antarctic Division, Australia ; Philip Trathan, British Antarctic Survey the United Kingdom; Anton Van de Putte, Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Science, Belgium ; David Thompson, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd., New Zealand ; Leigh Torres, Oregon State University, USA.


The overarching goal of the Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data (RAATD) project is to undertake a multispecies assessment of habitat use of Antarctic meso and top predators in the Southern Ocean based on existing animal tracking data to identify Areas of Ecological Significance, i.e. regions that are important for foraging to a range of predators and which, consequently, present an important biodiversity.

The project will provide (i) a greater understanding of fundamental ecosystem processes in the Southern Ocean, (ii) facilitate future projections of predator distributions under varying climate regimes, and (iii) provide input into spatial management planning decisions for management authorities such as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The synopsis of multi-predator tracking data will also expose potential gaps of data coverage in regions or seasons that are important but under-represented, possibly due to biases in the spatial, temporal, or taxonomic distribution of research effort. We have collated all available tracking data by research groups that worked in the Antarctic since the 1990s. We have then established a preliminary publicly accessible repository of these data. The final publicly available repository will only have the raw data that data holders have agreed to share and should contain data from more than 40 contributors from 12 national Antarctic programs. The dataset contains data on 15 predator species, with 3447 individual animals, and more than 2.4 million data points. We will also share the outputs of the project, including filtered and processed versions of these data, and habitat model outputs.

antarctic ice web


Progress to August 2017

The group has concentrated first on the consolidation of the diverse and complex data sets on 17 species collated from more than 30 data providers. The two major tasks have been to merge raw location files into standard formats and to collate the all-important metadata descriptors of each individual track. This data set will be the subject of a data paper that has already been reviewed by the 79 co-authors contributing to this effort.

After filtering and checking the data quality, the group now has 2,105,337off-shore locations for 2,831 individuals. Slightly more than half of these are from the 12 bird species with the rest from five species of mammals. The bulk of the data were collected between 2008 and 2014.

The species represent a suite of flying birds, diving and marine mammals, ranging from krill specialists to fish and squid specialists.


Humpback whales; crabeater, southern elephant, Weddell and Antarctic fur seals.


Adelie, royal, macaroni, king and emperor penguins, Antarctic and white-chin petrels and wandering, grey-headed, black-browed, light-mantled and dark-mantled sooty albatrosses.

 walrus web

  Male southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, with attached telemetry device.