Threats Assessment

The boreal forest is an important resource to the majority of North America’s landbirds. It is also an important source of natural resources for the US and Canadian economies. As such, the region has experienced extensive, and in some places intensive, change from multiple human land uses including forestry, energy extraction, agriculture and urban development, as well as being broadly affected by climate change. The amounts of change from these stressors is expected to increase in the coming decades, yet their impacts on species are currently not well understood and are, therefore, difficult to manage.

BAM is working to understand the potential impacts of these stressors on boreal birds using both retrospective and prospective studies that quantify species’ responses to sector-specific effects. Stressor effects are evaluated independently, additively, and interactively, and at a range of spatial and temporal scales, to understand species’ possible ranges of responses. 


BAM studies have increased our understanding of the impacts of forestry (Suárez-Esteban et al. In review), oil sands development (Leston et al. In preparation, Sólymos et al. 2015, Bayne et al. 2016) and climate change (Stralberg et al. 2015b), as well as the cumulative effects of multiple threats (Leston et al. In preparation), on boreal landbird populations. Our data products and results are also being used to inform forest management practices, estimate the risk of incidental take (Barker & Leston In preparation, Longcore & Smith 2013), inform environmental assessments, and guide conservation prioritization (Lisgo et al. 2017, Stralberg et al. 2018a, Stralberg et al. 2018b). 

Looking forward, we anticipate BAM will continue to assess the individual and cumulative impacts of human land use to inform forest management planning and practices, multi-species conservation planning, cumulative impacts assessments, and risk assessments. This knowledge will be communicated to partners and stakeholders through publications, reports and workshops, and integrated into decision-support tools to facilitate the on-the-ground application of our results.

Conservation Applications of BAM's Work 

Bibliography of BAM-related work

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, & Boreal Avian Modelling Project. (2018). Biodiversity Browser. Edmonton, AB, Canada: ABMI & BAM. Retrieved from

Bayne, E.M., Leston, L., Mahon, C.L., Sólymos, P., Machtans, C., Lankau, H., Ball, J.R., Van Wilgenburg, S.L., Cumming, S.G., Fontaine, T., Schmiegelow, F.K.A., Song, S.J., 2016. Boreal bird abundance estimates within different energy sector disturbances vary with point count radius. Condor 118, 376–390.

Leston, L., Bayne, E., Dzus, E., Sólymos, P., Moore, T., Andison, D., Cheyne, D., Carlson, M., 2020. Quantifying Long-Term Bird Population Responses to Simulated Harvest Plans and Cumulative Effects of Disturbance. Front Ecol Evol. 8, 252.

Leston, L., E. M. Bayne, C. L. Mahon, P. Sólymos, J. R. Ball, J. Schieck, F. K. A. Schmiegelow, and S. J. Song. In preparation. Assessing the ability of local-scale models to predict cumulative effects on boreal birds at landscape scales.

Leston, L., E. M. Bayne, P. Sólymos, J. D. Toms, C. L. Mahon, J. R. Ball, F. K. A. Schmiegelow, and S. J. Song. In preparation. Comparing and contrasting different assessments of cumulative forestry and energy sector effects on boreal birds.

Lisgo, K., Schmiegelow, F. K. A., Vernier, P., Edwards, M., & Suárez-Esteban, A. (2017). Ecological Benchmarks to Support Landscape Conservation Design in the Northwest Boreal LCC Planning Region (Technical Report). Whitehorse, YT, Canada: BEACONs Project, University of Alberta, and Yukon College,. Retrieved from

Longcore, T., and P. Smith. 2013. Avian Conservation and Ecology: Quantifying Human-related Mortality of Birds in Canada 8:art1–art11.

Sólymos, P., Mahon, C.L., Fontaine, T. and Bayne, E.M. (2015), Predictive Models for Estimating the Cumulative Effects of Human Development on Migratory Landbirds in the Oil Sands Areas of Alberta, Technical Report, Joint Oil Sands Monitoring: Cause-Effects Assessment of Oil Sands Activity on Migratory Landbirds, Edmonton, AB, Canada, available at:

Stralberg, D., E. M. Bayne, S. G. Cumming, P. Sólymos, S. J. Song, and F. K. A. Schmiegelow. 2015a. Conservation of future boreal forest bird communities considering lags in vegetation response to climate change: a modified refugia approach. Diversity and Distributions 21:1112–1128.

Stralberg, D., S. M. Matsuoka, A. Hamann, E. M. Bayne, P. Sólymos, F. K. A. Schmiegelow, X. Wang, S. G. Cumming, and S. J. Song. 2015b. Projecting boreal bird responses to climate change: the signal exceeds the noise. Ecological Applications 25:52–69.

Stralberg, D., X. Wang, M.-A. Parisien, F.-N. Robinne, P. Sólymos, C. L. Mahon, S. E. Nielsen, and E. M. Bayne. 2018a. Wildfire-mediated vegetation change in boreal forests of Alberta, Canada. Ecosphere 9:1–23.

Stralberg, D., Camfield, A.F., Carlson, M., Lauzon, C., Westwood, A.R., Barker, N.K.S., Song, S.J., Schmiegelow, F.K.A., 2018b. Strategies for identifying priority areas for passerine conservation in Canada’s boreal forest. Avian Conserv Ecol 13(2): 12, 1–23. ACE-01303-130212

Stralberg, D., Berteaux, D., Drever, R., Drever, M.C., Naujokaitis-Lewis, I., Schmiegelow, F.K.A., Tremblay, J.A., 2019. Conservation planning for boreal birds in a changing climate: A framework for action. Avian Conserv Ecol 14(1):13.

Suárez-Esteban, A., S. G. Cumming, E. M. Bayne, T. Micheletti, P. Sólymos, S. J. Song, D. Stralberg, and F. K. A. Schmiegelow. In review. Anthropogenic disturbances negatively influence boreal forest bird density at multiple spatial scales. Avian Conservation and Ecology.