6th International Biologging Symposium – A week of tags, collaborations, and innovation!

Things have been a little quiet around the blog for the past few weeks as the lab prepares for the upcoming field season and the arrival of our new MBIOL students (who we will hear introductions from in the next few weeks).

I have just recently returned from beautiful Konstanz, Germany at the mouth of the Rhine, who this year played host to several hundred attendees of the 6th International Biologging Symposium. What is biologging? Well, in the most general sense, it is defined as wild animal-bourne telemetry devices and tagging research.  This conference is a bit unique among the plethora of international meetings that take place each year.  While it does focus on biology and biological questions, the core spirit of this conference brings together engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, and biologists to tackle some of the biggest questions with creativity and everything the world of technology has to offer ranging from terrestrial movement ecology, group schooling and flocking behaviour, and diving responses in marine mammals.  With over 150 posters, four days of plenary talks, and one full day of workshops, this conference packed a lot into a very short week.

I presented a poster entitled “Behavioural trade-offs in a capital breeder: Quantifying individual variation in lactating grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) using accelerometery.” This poster summarized my first two data chapters focusing on the development of a behavioural classification algorithm from our head-mounted accelerometers and the initial findings of my investigation into the drivers of differential behavioural strategies in our grey seal mothers. This conference gave me a lot of useful feedback as I prepare for a talk at the upcoming Society for Marine Mammalogy conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I will be following up with another blog post going into more depth as to what biologging is and why you should be paying attention to it.  In the meantime, the newly formed International Biologging Society (IBLS) is open for business as a means to represent the interests of biologging community, to set standards to the field, and as a way to connect such a broad community of researchers and developers.  Visit their website if you’d like more information on how to get involved, or follow their twitter feed: @biologging

Although I was the only one from Durham in attendance, I teamed up with Twiss Lab alumni, Dr. Amy Bishop, and the rest of the Horning Lab at the Alaska SeaLife Center, my old stomping grounds, to discuss a new topic each day of the conference, inspired by the plenary talks and breakout workshops. See the links below for more detail on each of the 5 days of the symposium.

Day One: “This week in Konstanz, Germany: 6th International Bio-Logging Symposium”

Day Two: “Marine Mammals as Oceanographers”

Day Three: “Show me the data!”

Day Four: “Why do scientists attend symposiums or conferences?”

Day Five: “Horizons”

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion of biologging, new students, field work, and maybe another guest blog or two!

Courtney Shuert


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