Written by Paola Semenzato, from Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy.

The purpose of the trip was to attend the course “AniMove – Animal Movement and remote sensing for conservation” (www.animove.org), organized by the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt, Germany, from December 5th to 16th 2016.

Last December I attended the course AniMove in Frankfurt (Germany). AniMove is a two-week super-intensive training course for studying animal movement in conjunction with environmental parameters derived from remote sensing for conservation application. It is the perfect opportunity for PhD students, like me, who want to deepen their knowledge in Movement Ecology! The course covered the main theoretical and computational approaches of movement ecology: it began with movement data pre-processing, analysis and visualisation, to then continue with trajectory based analyses (as segmentation of movement paths, geometry of movement paths…), area based analysis including various home range measurements, utilization distributions and resource selection, and finally the link between environmental and movement data. During the course, Open-Source software was used only and Open-Access data. I agree with this choice, and consider it very important in order to involve an increasing number of research groups to share ideas and results with. The main software environment we used was R, both for the management and analysis of spatial data. The course was structured to develop theory and practical approaches with a focus on providing immediately usable tools to participants. My PhD project is focused on the movement ecology of Alpine ibex using remote-tracking technologies (GPS-GSM collars). During my PhD I assessed movement patterns, the use of space and resources, habitat selection of a population of female ibex in the Italian Alps (Marmolada massif). The course allowed me to approach different methods, learn new tools and deepen the theoretical basis of those already used. Moreover, I had the chance to discuss my results with teachers and other students: that was really productive, since new ideas and solutions emerged!

The grant from IRSAE gave me the occasion to deepen my skills in Movement Ecology, but it was also the opportunity to meet the AniMove team, as well as other PhD students and researches from all over the world, that experience in their professional lives very different social and environmental contexts and work on very diverse species. It was a great opportunity for discussion and sharing of experiences. Indeed, the purpose of AniMove initiatives is to merge teaching and research activities as a unique process in which the exchange of ideas and information becomes the basis for innovation. The courses and conferences are an excellent opportunity to build this, also in moments of conviviality! We did not missed those moments in Frankfurt! What better time to combine a stroll in the city with an animated discussion on Movement Ecology issues!

I would like to thank IRSAE for providing the funding for me to attend this course and to offer this opportunity to PhD students in order to advance the quality of our PhD education, for a better future of innovation and advancement in the field of Applied Ecology, and beyond.