Alberta Map
Alberta Map

Introduction

Over its decade-plus of operations, the ABMI has generated a comprehensive dataset on Alberta’s species, their habitats, and the extent and type of human footprint across the province. With this information, the ABMI has developed analyses to predict species' relative abundances and examine species' responses to vegetation and soil types, as well as human footprint in Alberta. These methods have been applied to hundreds of species; this profile provides summary results for one.

Habitat & Human Footprint Associations

In northern Alberta, the Black-capped Chickadee prefers stands with deciduous trees; in southern Alberta, it is likely to be found in wooded coulees and valleys as well as urban and rural areas. Old or dead decidous trees with softer wood are essential for cavity nest excavation.

Species-habitat Associations in the Forested Region

Forested Region - Species Habitat Association Graph: Predicted species relative abundance (bars) as a function of vegetation and human footprint type in the forested region. Dots are added to forest types where harvesting occurs and show the predicted species abundance in cutblocks of various ages. Vertical lines represent 90% confidence intervals.

  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is highest in deciduous and mixedwood forest stands and urban/industrial footprint in the forested region; it is also common in upland spruce and pine forest types, and other vegetation types.
  • In cutblocks, Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is slightly lower than in naturally-disturbed stands of the same age, and increases with cutblock age.

Species-habitat Associations in the Prairie Region

Non-Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Non-Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Prairie Region - Species Habitat Association Graph: Predicted species relative abundance (bars) in each soil type and human footprint type in the prairie region. Vertical lines indicate 90% confidence intervals. The presence/absence of trees greatly affects the presence and abundance of many species; therefore, separate figures are presented for treed and non-treed sites in the prairie region.

  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is greater at treed than at non-treed sites in the prairie region.
  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is highest in sites with urban/industrial human footprint, or with clay or productive soil in the prairie region.

Relationship to Linear Footprint


Relationship to Linear Footprint in the Forest Region



Linear Footprint Graph: Species relative abundance predicted for habitat with no human footprint compared to habitat in which 10% of the area is converted to either soft or hard linear footprint.

  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance increases with soft linear footprint and hard linear footprint in the forested region. 

Relationship to Linear Footprint in the Prairie Region



Linear Footprint Graph: Species relative abundance predicted for habitat with no human footprint compared to habitat in which 10% of the area is converted to either soft or hard linear footprint.

  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is predicted to have a slight positive relationship with soft linear footprint and no relationship with hard linear footprint in the prairie region.

Impacts of Human Footprint

The Black-capped Chickadee is generally tolerant of human footprint; it is commonly observed in human-affected areas such as urban areas. It is also attracted to forest edge; however, forestry practices that eliminate preferred nesting locations such as old or dead deciduous trees or that result in excessive fragmentation can negatively affect nesting and winter travel.

Human Footprint Effects in the Forested Region

Human Footprint Effects in the Forested Region

Sector effect graph: Changes to species relative abundance (number above or below bar) attributed to the footprint of five sectors: agriculture, forestry, energy, rural/urban footprint, and transportation. The y-axis shows the percent population change per unit area of the sector's footprint. The x-axis shows the total area occupied by each sector's footprint in the region. The areas of the sector-specific rectangle (equal to the unit effect multiplied by the area of footprint) is the total effect of the sector on the species relative abundance in the region.

  • Rural/urban footprint has the strongest unit effect on the Black-capped Chickadee in the forested region, but only covers a small area resulting in a very small increase in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.
  • Agriculture and transportation footprint have the strongest negative unit effect on the Black-capped Chickadee in the forested region, with each resulting in a predicted decline in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.

  • Other footprint categories have very small effects on Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance.

Human Footprint Effects in the Prairie Region

Human Footprint Effects in the Prairie Region

Sector effect graph: Changes to species relative abundance (number above or below bar) attributed to the footprint of five sectors: agriculture, forestry, energy, rural/urban footprint, and transportation. The y-axis shows the percent population change per unit area of the sector's footprint. The x-axis shows the total area occupied by each sector's footprint in the region. The areas of the sector-specific rectangle (equal to the unit effect multiplied by the area of footprint) is the total effect of the sector on the species relative abundance in the region.

  • Forestry has the strongest unit effect on the Black-capped Chickadee in the prairie region, but because it occupies a small area only results in a very small predicted decline in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.
  • Agriculture has the strongest overall effect on the Black-capped Chickadee in the prairie region in terms of the unit effect and overall area covered, resulting in a strong predicted decline in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.

Predicted Relative Abundance

The Black-capped Chickadee is commonly found in all of Alberta's Natural Regions, though is least common in the Grassland Natural Region and the extreme north of the province.

Reference Conditions

  • The reference condition shows the predicted relative abundance of the Black-capped Chickadee after all human footprint had been backfilled based on native vegetation in the surrounding area.

Current Conditions

  • The current condition is the predicted relative abundance of the Black-capped Chickadee taking current human footprint (circa 2012) into account.

Difference Conditions

  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is predicted to be lower under current conditions compared to reference conditions through much of its range in Alberta, especially in parts of the Boreal Forest and Parkland Natural Regions.
  • Black-capped Chickadee relative abundance is predicted to be slightly higher under current conditions compared to reference conditions in patches of the Foothills and Boreal Forest Natural Regions, and around urban centres like Edmonton, Calgary, and Fort McMurray.

References & Credits

References & Credits

Boreal Avian Modelling Project. 2016. Black-capped Chickadee. http://www.borealbirds.ca/avian_db/accounts.php/Poecile+atricapillus. Accessed July 7, 2016.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2016. All About Birds: Black-capped Chickadee. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee . Accessed June 11, 2016.

Proppe, D.A., K.A. Byers, C.B. Sturdy, C.C. St. Clair. 2013.  Physical condition of Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) in relation to road disturbance. Journal of Zoology 91(11): 842-845.

Sibley, D. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds.  Chanticleer Press, New York, NY.

St. Clair, C.C., M. Bélisle, A. Desrochers, and S. Hannon. 1998. Winter responses of forest birds to habitat corridors and gaps. Conservation Ecology 2(2):13.

Data Sources

Information from ABMI bird point counts was combined with information from other organizations and individuals:

  • Environment Canada (North American Breeding Bird Survey and Joint Oil Sands Monitoring programs)
  • Ecological Monitoring Committee for the Lower Athabasca (EMCLA)
  • Dr. Erin Bayne (University of Alberta)

Photo Credits

Photos: TBD

Recommended Citation

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute and Boreal Avian Modelling Project. 2018. Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). ABMI Website: abmi.ca/home/data-analytics/biobrowser-home/species-profile?tsn=554382.

Additional ABMI Resources

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2016. ABMI Species Website Manual, Version: 2016-12-02. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Alberta, Canada. Report available at: abmi.ca.

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2014. Manual for Species Modeling and Intactness, Version 2014-09-25. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Alberta, Canada. Report available at: abmi.ca.

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2014. Terrestrial field data collection protocols (abridged version) 2016-05-18. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Alberta, Canada. Report available at: abmi.ca.

Download ABMI Species and Habitat Data.

View ABMI Collaborations.

Back to Top

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Logo, Small

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute ©2014  All Rights Reserved     |  Privacy Policy |  Terms of Use |  Our Photos |  Glossary