Boreal Avian Monitoring Strategy


An effort to monitor the status, trends and distribution of boreal forest birds at a national scale.

Chestnut-sided Warbler. Paruline à flancs marron (Setophaga pensylvanica). Photo Credit: Charles M. Francis

Project Summary

BAM continues to support the design of monitoring and survey programs for boreal birds, including the development of a Boreal Avian Monitoring Strategy, an effort to monitor the status, trends and distribution of boreal forest birds at a national scale. This strategy is being led by Environment Canada and Climate Change (ECCC), and involves several BAM Contributing Scientists.

BAM supported ECCC in the development of a sampling scheme known as the Boreal Optimal Sampling Strategy (BOSS) and analyses were initiated to validate the use of proxy variables for sampling stratification (Wilgenburg et al., 2020). The BOSS design is a randomized hierarchical sampling design stratified by political jurisdictions, ecoregions, and habitat. The BOSS design also incorporates access costs into sample unit selection such that all else being equal, study areas are more likely to be selected if they are less expensive to access. These traits make the BOSS design more efficient than similar alternative spatially balanced sample designs (Van Wilgenburg et al., 2020). The immediate goals for a Boreal Avian Monitoring Strategy are to improve representation of sampling in relation to existing gaps in space and covariates to improve estimates of species’ population sizes, distributions and habitat relationships. In the long-term, the goal is to establish a spatially balanced sample across the boreal for estimating trends in species population sizes. A preliminary target is to sample ~5000 primary sampling units across Canada, representing ~90,000 new point-count sampling locations (See Figure 1). Sample sizes were allocated to spatial strata (based on the intersection of political jurisdiction and ecoregions) based on an analysis of proxy variables thought to contribute to spatial and temporal variation in avian community composition, with greater sampling allocated to strata that are predicted to be more variable.


Project Partners

This project is led by partners at Environment Canada and Climate Change (ECCC).  For more information please contact us. 


Van Wilgenburg, S. L., Mahon, C. L.,Campbell, G., McLeod, L., Campbell, M., Evans, D., Easton, W., Francis, C. M., Haché, S., Machtans, C. S., Mader, C., Pankratz, R. F., Russell, R., Smith, A. C., Thomas, P., Toms, J. D., and Tremblay, J. A., 2020. A cost efficient spatially balanced hierarchical sampling design for monitoring boreal birds incorporating access costs and habitat stratification. PLoS ONE.