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Animals on the Move: Following Digital Footprints

Evening Program with Book Signing

Inside Science program

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1A0032

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Tagged seals in the southern hemisphere transmit climatic data to scientists worldwide

Movement is a critical process of life, whether it’s a hawk swooping to capture its prey, an elephant trekking through the forest to exploit scarce resources, or a shark slicing through the water in search of potential mates. Understanding the forces that set nature in motion is vital to improving our ability to maintain global biodiversity through the mapping of conservation hotspots, identifying and managing human-wildlife conflict, sustaining productive fisheries, and even monitoring the spread of pandemic disease.

Although we know the annual migrations of a few species, such as sea turtles and caribou, the majority of the planet’s species’ movements remain unknown. That is changing as satellites, drones, camera traps, cellphone networks, and accelerometers reveal the natural world as never before. Tonight, three experts at the forefront of the animal tracking revolution and the intersections of data technology and animal migration offer fascinating accounts of animals on the move, from albatrosses circling Antarctica to the loggerhead turtle who swam against the current and the elephant who texted for help.

Jared Stabach, ecologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, discusses how the Smithsonian is using satellite tracking and drones–one of which he will bring with him–to monitor, understand, and better conserve species such as the scimitar-horned oryx, Asian elephant, and dusky shark. Stabach is joined by Oliver Uberti and James Cheshire, co-authors of Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics (WW Norton), which includes beautifully designed, data-driven portraits of how creatures like ants, otters, owls, turtles, and sharks navigate the world.

Cheshire is an associate professor at University College, London, whose award-winning maps have appeared in the Financial Times and the Guardian. Uberti is an award-winning designer and visual journalist.

Where the Animals Go is available for sale and signing.

Inside Science


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)