Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

IBED researchers take a leading role in European radar network for monitoring airborne animal movement

7 November 2013

‘European Network for the Radar surveillance of Animal Movement’ (ENRAM) is a new European Cooperation in Science and Technology (EU-COST). During the official kick-off on 21 October scientist Judy Shamoun-Baranes of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) was elected as ENRAM’s vice-chair. The main objective of the programme is to foster multi-disciplinary collaboration to monitor the aerial movement of animals, predict their spatial and temporal patterns at a continental scale and simultaneously improve commercial weather radar products.

Billions of organisms across Europe travel through the air every year, linking distant ecosystems and providing a range of ecosystem services (e.g. pollination, seed dispersal, pest control). At the same time these movements may result in conflicts between animals and human activities, such as collisions with aircraft, wind turbines and other man-made structures, the spread of diseases and invasions of crops pests. Monitoring the timing, intensity and spatial distributions of these movements is an important step in understanding which factors can be used to predict these spatio-temporal patterns which are of interest for a broad range of stakeholders.

Leading role 

IBED has taken a leading role in establishing this network as it follows up on earlier research performed at the institute in Amsterdam. The Computational Geo-Ecology group of IBED uses various methods to study bird movement which include military and weather radar systems and tracking of individual birds with UvA-BiTS GPS loggers ( Their radar-based research on bird movement began together with the Royal Netherlands Air Force which later evolved into the FlySafe project funded by the European Space Agency. During recent years researchers from CGE have been working with to Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and used weather radar systems to study bird migration, summertime behaviour of swifts, and the response of birds to broadscale disturbances such as fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Now, the ENRAM project will take the next step to try and establish, for the first time, a continental wide network to study the aerial movement of birds, insects and bats based predominantly on the existing operational weather radar network. The 4-year programme will bring together the expertise of radar biologists, meteorologists and engineers for solving this challenge. By filtering out the signals of airborne animals they will simultaneously improve weather radar products for various meteorological applications.

The ENRAM project is part of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (EU-COST) action programme that aims to establish professional networks amongst partners in industry and academia. ENRAM will run for 4 years, it currently involves 15 nations across Europe and is still open for new member-state subscriptions to expand its network.

Published by  IBED