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All things biodiversity.

ABMI Measures Biodiversity

From the boreal forest in the north to the grasslands in the south, the ABMI monitors the state of Alberta’s biodiversity. To do this, the ABMI employs a systematic grid of 1,656 site locations, spaced 20 km apart, to collect biodiversity information on terrestrial and wetland sites .

At each location, ABMI technicians record the species that are present and measure a variety of habitat characteristics. For species that cannot be identified in the field (e.g., mites and lichen), ABMI taxonomists located at the Royal Alberta Museum sort, identify, and archive samples to complete the Institute’s species-level dataset. Through our field and laboratory efforts, the ABMI tracks over 2,500 species.

ABMI Measures Human Footprint

The ABMI also monitors the state of Alberta’s human footprint using fine-resolution aerial photography and satellite imagery. The ABMI Geospatial Centre conducts analyses of human footprint at two spatial scales:

  1. For a 3 × 7 km area around each ABMI site location, detailed inventories of human footprint are created using fine-resolution aerial photography. Detailed inventories are available from 1999 to 2012, with the exception of 2000 and 2006.
  2. At the provincial scale, existing satellite imagery is used to create a wall-to-wall human footprint map of the entire province. This Geographic Information System (GIS) Inventory of Provincial Human Footprint is a compilation of externally sourced information about provincial human footprint, supplemented with ABMI remote sensing data that has undergone ABMI quality-­ÔÇÉcontrol procedures. The Inventory of Provincial Human Footprint is available for 2007 and 2010.

These mapped products are updated at regular intervals to track changes in human footprint and habitat over time.The ABMI’s dataset is used to identify relationships between human land use, habitat, and species abundance when and where they exist. 

A Unique Program

The scale and depth of the ABMI’s monitoring program described above make it a unique program nationally, and a leader internationally.

Members of the ABMI’s Science Advisory Committee (an external review board) describe the ABMI as “one of the premier monitoring programs in the world” (Dr. Reed Noss of the University of Central Florida) and “leading the biodiversity monitoring charge in Canada” (Dr. Jeremy Kerr of the University of Ottawa). 

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