Species at Risk Conservation

Decision makers require relevant and reliable information to perform accurate risk assessments and develop successful conservation actions for species or populations of high conservation concern.  Obtaining reliable information for boreal forest birds is particularly challenging because most species have broad geographic ranges, and the characteristics defining habitat quality and the effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors on individuals and their habitats may vary across the species’ range. Furthermore, the boreal forest is frequently reshaped by several natural disturbances. This results in a system that is dynamic in both space and time, which must be accounted for in assessment and recovery planning processes.

To address these challenges, BAM collaborated with scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop a conceptual framework to identify Critical Habitat (CH) for boreal birds breeding in Canada (Dénes et al. In preparation). The identification of CH is an important and necessary step in planning and actioning the recovery of species listed as Endangered or Threatened on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). A key component of this conceptual framework is the estimation of population density and trend. BAM has developed sophisticated density models using a guided variable selection process (Haché et al. 2014; Ball et al. 2016). These density models have been used to generate residual-based estimates of population trend at regional (Ball et al. 2016) and national scales (Haché et al. in preparation). Opportunities are now being explored to apply this framework to a growing number of species.


More generally, BAM has contributed to the assessment and recovery planning processes for several boreal-nesting Species at Risk including Canada Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Common Nighthawk from regional to national extents (Ball et al. 2016; Haché et al. 2014; In preparation.; Stehelin et al. 2016; In preparation; Westwood 2016; Westwood et al. 2019; In preparation). BAM has also facilitated the inclusion of Species at Risk in regional land use planning. For example, BAM developed density models for Canada Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Common Nighthawk and Rusty Blackbird (Dénes 2019a; 2019b) to inform the land planning processes of the Moose Cree and the Lac Seul First Nations. BAM also examined the effects of caribou-specific forest harvest management plans on boreal avian populations more generally (Leston et al. In preparation). As these examples demonstrate, BAM is at the forefront of developing the increasingly sophisticated set of tools needed to respond to the growing list of conservation challenges faced by boreal birds.

Bibliography of BAM-related work

Ball, J.R., Sólymos, P., Schmiegelow, F.K.A., Haché, S., Schieck, J., Bayne, E.M., 2016. Regional habitat needs of a nationally listed species, Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis), in Alberta, Canada. Avian Conserv Ecol 11. https://doi.org/10.5751/ACE-00916-110210

Dénes, F., Barker N.K.S., Schmiegelow F.K.A., St-Laurent K., Westwood A.R., Haché S., Song S.J., Sólymos P., Stralberg D., In preperation. Critical habitat identification for boreal birds in Canada: Challenges, current practices, and a conceptual framework.

Dénes, F.V., (2019), Species at Risk in the Moose Cree Homelands: Habitat Modeling of Bird Species at Risk in the Moose Cree Homelands, Report to the Moose Cree First Nation and Nature Canada, Boreal Avian Modelling Project, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Dénes, F.V., (2019), Species at Risk in the Lac Seul First Nation Traditional Territory: Habitat Modeling of Bird Species at Risk in the Lac Seul Traditional Territory, Report to the Lac Seul First Nation and Nature Canada, Boreal Avian Modelling Project, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Haché, S., Sólymos, P., Fontaine, T., Bayne, E.M., Cumming, S.G., Schmiegelow, F.K.A., Stralberg, D. (2014), Critical Habitat of Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, and Common Nighthawk in Canada (Project K4B20-13-0367), Technical Report for Environment and Climate Change Canada, Boreal Avian Modelling Project, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, available at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2433885.

Leston, L., Bayne E.M., Dzus E., Moore T. In preparation. Projecting boreal bird population responses to caribou conservation and forest harvest. Forest Ecology and Management.

Stehelin, T., Bayne, E.M., Sólymos, P. and Fontaine, T. (2016), Status of the Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus Sordidulus) in Alberta, Boreal Avian Modelling Project, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Westwood, A.R., Harding, C., Reitsma, L., Lambert, D. (2017), Guidelines for Managing Canada Warbler Habitat in the Atlantic Northern Forest of Canada, Technical Report, High Branch Conservation Services, Hartland, VT, USA, available at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2435733.

Westwood, A.R., Stacier, C., Sólymos, P., Haché, S., Fontaine, T., Bayne, E.M., Mazerolle, D., 2019. Estimating the conservation value of protected areas in Maritime Canada for two species at risk: the Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) and Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis). Avian Conserv Ecol 14(1): 16.

Westwood, A. R., Lambert, D., Reitsma, L., & Stralberg, D. (In review). Finding common ground: Regional spatial models to support both land conservation and forest management planning for the threatened Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis).