Land Access

Surveying Alberta's biodiversity on your land.

What is a Biodiversity Survey?

The ABMI surveys randomly selected land and wetland locations at each of our 1656 sites. Surveys are conducted by two to three field technologists who identify species, take habitat measurements, and observe human land use. 

Each site is re-visited once every five years to measure changes in biodiversity over time.
 

Land Surveys

ABMI land survey sites are visited three to five times throughout the spring and summer.

  • Visit 1 (February): Four motion-sensitive game cameras are set-up on re-bar or trees at each site. These cameras capture photos of mammals to help us understand their status and distribution. At sites in the northern half of the province, field technologists will also set-up audio recording units with the cameras. These let us capture the sounds of mammals, birds and amphibians during the day and in the middle of the night.
     
  • Visit 2 (May): At forested sites, or sites with long or difficult access paths, field technologists make a preliminary visit to the site before the survey takes place. During this visit, they determine their access path and prepare the site to be surveyed in the future, marking out the survey area using flagging tape.

    Visit 3 (May-June): The first survey visit takes place in May or June.  During this visit, field technologists perform a bird survey, which requires them to begin surveying within half an hour of sunrise.  See a complete list of data collected below.

    Visit 4 (June-July): The second survey visit takes place in June or July. Field technologists perform a vascular plant survey, and also collect mosses and lichens. See a complete list of data collected below.

    Visit 5 (September): The ABMI is also interested in rangeland grasses. For some sites, we may request a quick half-hour visit to your pasture in September. 

Terrestrial Protocols

These protocols are performed at each terrestrial site during the spring and summer visits. Each protocol is repeated in every quadrant of the 100 x 100m (1ha) terrestrial site. Sightings of birds, mammals and amphibians are also noted during each site visit.

Spring Protocols: May-June

  • Breeding bird survey
  • Physical site characteristics (elevation, slope)
  • Vegetation, age and structure
  • Soil samples (soil mites)
  • Ecosite identification
  • Tree and woody material measurements

Summer Protocols: June-July

  • Soil depth measurements
  • Shrub cover
  • Tree ages
  • Forestry canopy cover estimates
  • Plant indentification
  • Moss and lichen collection

Bird surveys: In the spring visit, nine 10 minute recordings of bird songs are taken in a 600x600 m grid around the terrestrial site.

 

Wetland Surveys

ABMI wetland survey sites are visited two times throughout the spring and summer.

  • Visit 1 (May or June): During the first visit to a wetland site, field technologists will determine their access path and ensure the selected wetland site meets ABMI survey requirements (depth and size).
  • Visit 2 (June or July): Wetland surveys occur during the second site visit in June or July. During this visit, field technologists will survey plants around the perimeter of the water, and also enter the water in an inflatable kayak to collect water samples, take depth measurements, and collect insects. See a complete list of data collected below.

The randomly selected wetland survey site is within 10 km of the randomly selected terrestrial site. Wetlands must be permanent which means they must have existed for at least 10 years and be at least one metre deep.

Wetland Protocols

Wetland protocols are performed during spring and summer visits. Each protocol is repeated in every quadrant. Sighting of birds, mammals and amphibians are also noted during each visit.

Spring Protocols: May-June

  • Depth measurements (from shore)
  • Wetland zone maps (from shore)

Summer Protocols: June-July

  • Depth measurements (from boat)
  • Shoreline characteristics
  • Water chemistry and nutrients
  • Plant identification
  • Ecosite identification
  • Aquatic insect collection

Land Access

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