We Do Applied Research

Taking our data & monitoring a step further.

Adding Value

The ABMI monitors and reports on the state of Alberta’s biodiversity. In the course of monitoring terrestrial and wetland ecosystems across the province over the past twelve years, the ABMI has assembled a massive biodiversity database, developed reliable measurement protocols, and found innovative ways to summarize complex ecological information.

This dataset has enormous value to environmental managers and land-use decision makers and, to demonstrate the use of biodiversity data, the ABMI has an active research and development program. By applying this capacity to specific management challenges, the ABMI has extended its relevance far beyond its original vision and added value to the ABMI’s core business of measure and reporting on the state of biodiversity in Alberta.

The Application Centre’s current projects use ABMI’s biodiversity data to address challenges like managing rare species in a changing climate and mapping ecosystem services like pollination, carbon storage, and water purification. These projects are collaborative efforts between the ABMI and partner organizations and researchers.

Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation

Alberta’s climate is becoming warmer, drier and more variable. The BMCCA project is developing essential knowledge and tools to support the management of Alberta’s biodiversity in a changing climate. Identifying the potential impacts of climate change on Alberta’s species, ecosystems and human communities, and incorporating that knowledge into today’s decisions about land use and species management can help mitigate these impacts and the need for potentially costly actions in the future. Visit the project website to learn more!

Core funding for this project is provided by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC).

Ecosystem Services Assessment

Ecosystem services are benefits we receive from nature that support our health and well being. These ecosystem services directly support many of our industries, including forestry, crop production, and cattle ranching; provide recreational outdoor activities; and make our communities more livable places. Despite this importance, many ecosystem services are difficult to measure and their economic value is difficult to assess. The ESA project is developing a system to assess and map the supply and value of several ecosystem services across Alberta: forest timber production, water purification, crop pollination, rangeland forage production, carbon storage, and biodiversity. Using the ABMI’s specialized ecological knowledge and expertise, the ESA project is enhancing and creating knowledge to help us understand ecosystem service supply and how planning and management decisions affect the landscape and increase benefits to Albertans. Visit the project website to learn more!

This project is funded by Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

Ecological Recovery Monitoring

Land is disturbed when we build well pads and maintain producing oil and gas wells: vegetation and soil are removed and soil is compacted, changing the way water moves across the landscape. After a wellsite has been closed, in order to obtain a reclamation certificate, the company leasing the land has to reclaim it using reclamation criteria developed by the Government of Alberta. We currently don’t know how long it takes for these certified, reclaimed wellsites to return to a functioning ecosystem that could support healthy rangelands, produce crops and timber, and provide wildlife habitat. The ABMI’s Ecological Recovery Monitoring project is developing a long-term monitoring program to assess the ecological recovery of certified, reclaimed wellsites across Alberta and determine how long wellsites in different types of ecosystem take to recover. We assess ecological recovery by sampling and measuring numerous aspects of the soil and vegetation on the wellsite, and comparing these with samples collected at nearby reference sites off of the wellsite, where the land hasn’t been disturbed for industrial activity. Visit the project page to learn more!

This project received funding from AEMERA and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. 

Rare Plants & Rare Animals Monitoring in the Lower Athabasca

ABMI’s core biodiversity monitoring program isn’t optimized for tracking changes in the populations of rare or elusive species – these species are rarely detected by the core monitoring program. The Rare Plants and Rare Animals projects were designed to address this gap. These projects were originally conceived and initiated through the Ecological Monitoring Committee for the Lower Athabasca (EMCLA), which brought together industry and government to design cost-efficient protocols to monitor rare and elusive species. Regional monitoring is critical to provide ecological information to inform regional land management decision-making.

The Rare Animals project is focused on vocalizing species – species that make sounds – and is monitoring several vocalizing species: owls, amphibians, and the Yellow Rail, a secretive marsh bird and species of Special Concern in Canada. The goal is to understand these species’ status, habitat preferences, and distribution across the Lower Athabasca region. Learn more here!

The Rare Plants project is developing techniques for surveying these hard-to-find plant species using a modeling and adaptive sampling approach to map habitats where rare plants are most likely to be found, and using that information to prioritize where we sample. The Rare Plants project is improving our understanding of rare plants’ status, habitat preferences, and geographic distribution in the Lower Athabasca region. Learn more here!

Core funding for these projects is provided by AEMERA.


The ABMI is continually innovating and looking for new opportunities to apply biodiversity data to practical management challenges. Projects are sponsored by organizations with a mandate to improve environmental stewardship and championed by people with a passion to make a difference.

Learn more about the ABMI's applied research projects.


More questions? Feel free to contact:

Dr. Dan Farr

Director, Application Centre
dfarr@biotacanada.ca

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