Motus Wildlife Tracking

Project Objective

The central objective of Motus is to enable conservation and ecological research by providing a way to track the movement of animals. 


The Motus Wildlife Tracking System, developed by Bird Studies Canada, uses coordinated radio-telemetry towers and nano-tag receivers to collect animal movement data across the globe. With funding from a FONZ Conservation Grant and the Jacquemin Family Foundation, and in collaboration with Smithsonian’s Movement of Life Initiative and Center for Species Survival, VWL has built two new receiver stations (adding to 9 other towers already in place in Virginia, only one of which is inland). In doing so, we join an international research network made up of hundreds of researchers, institutions, and private landowners. 

The new receiver stations, one at SCBI campus in Front Royal and another at private property in Rappahannock County, VA, will enable researchers to triangulate locations of tagged animals moving through the region. This project provides VWL with a unique opportunity to learn more about the species in our region and their continental scale movements while connecting us to a nationwide collaborative research network. In the near future, we plan to host a landowner workshop to provide information for the local community on how to get involved in this exciting project. 

Sources of Funding

  • Smithsonian’s Women’s Committee 
  • Band Foundation 
  • Beatrice Adie von Gontard 
  • Jacquemin Family Foundation


  • George Mason University 
  • Center for Species Survival 
  • Conservation Ecology Center  
  • Motus Wildlife Tracking System 
  • Movement of Life Initiative 
  • Smithsonian’s Movement of Life Initiative 
  • Wildlife Preservation Canada 

Project Contact  

  • Amy Johnson, Program Director, JohnsonAE[at]  
  • Bernadette Rigley, Research Fellow, Rigleyb[at] 
  • Jared Stabach, Movement of Life Ecologist, StabachJ[at]  

In the News

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VWL is supported 100% by grants and donations and our work is made possible by the generous contributions from our community.

The Smithsonian Institution is a 501(c)(3). All contributions are tax-deductible.


Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road, MRC 5537
Front Royal, Virginia 22630