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

The American Robin is a very adaptable bird that can be found in a range of habitats from natural settings such as forests and riparian areas to anthrogenic settings like urban areas, agricultural areas, and campgrounds. They generally prefer edge habitats that can be naturally or anthropogenically created.

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.

  • The American Robin commonly occurs in all vegetation and human footprint types in the forested region; its relative abundance is highest in young and old Black Spruce, Larch, and Pine forest types as well as young upland Spruce stands
  • Relative abundance in harvested stands follows the same pattern as naturally disturbed stands in all forest types where harvesting occurs.
  • Relative abundance is high in young upland Spruce and Pine cutblocks and declines with forest age.
  • Relative abundance increases with forest age in mixedwood and deciduous cutblocks.

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.

  • American Robin relative abundance is higher at treed sites compared to non-treed sites in the prairie region.
  • At both treed and non-treed sites, American Robin relative abundance is highest in urban footprint and is similar among productive, rapidly draining, and clay soil types, as well as in cultivated footprint. 

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.

  • American Robin relative abundance is predicted to increase strongly with hard linear footprint and slightly with soft 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.

  • American Robin relative abundance is predicted to increase with soft and hard linear footprint in the prairie region.

Impacts of Human Footprint

The American Robin is adapted to many anthropogenic habitats including urban areas, agricultural areas, and young harvested forested stands. In northern Alberta, the distribution of the American Robin was found to be associated with both higher levels of human development (e.g. campgrounds, well pads, and roads) as well as the availability of non-native earthworms (Cameron and Bayne 2012).

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.

  • Forestry footprint has the strongest positive unit effect on the American Robin in the forested region, and in combination with forestry footprint area, results in a predicted increase in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.

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.

  • Urban footprint had the strongest positive unit effect on predicted relative abundance of the American Robin in the prairie region resulting in small predicted increase in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.
  • Forestry footprint had the strongest negative unit effect on predicted relative abundance resulting in small predicted decrease in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.
  • Agriculture has a small negative unit effect but because it covered the largest area in the prairie, results in a predicted decrease in the relative abundance of the American Robin compared to reference conditions.

Predicted Relative Abundance

The American Robin is found throughout Alberta, but is predicted to be most common in the Foothills and Parkland Natural Regions, as well as the southern half of the Boreal Forest Natural Region.

Reference Conditions

  • The reference condition shows the predicted relative abundance of the American Robin 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 American Robin taking current human footprint (circa 2012) into account.

Difference Conditions

  • American Robin relative abundance is predicted to be lower throughout parts of it range, particularly in the Parkland Natural Region, compared to reference conditions.
  • American Robin relative abundance is predicted to have increased in parts of its range but particularly in the Foothills Natural Region and around urban areas, compared to reference conditions.

Other Issues

The North American American Robin population is generally considered to be stable to increasing, but it is vulnerable to pesticides and chemical pollution.

References & Credits

References & Credits

Cameron, E.K. and E.M. Bayne. 2012. Invasion by a non-native ecosystem engineer alters distribution of a native predator. Diversity and Distributions 18:1190-1198.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2016. All About Birds: American Robin. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin . Accessed May 10, 2016.

Sallabanks, R., F.C. James, N. Vanderhoff, P. Pyle and M.A. Patten. 2016. American Robin (Turdus migratorius) In: The Birds of North America, ed. P.G. Rodewald. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY. https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/amerob . Accessed May 10, 2016.

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. American Robin (Turdus migratorius). ABMI Website: abmi.ca/home/data-analytics/biobrowser-home/species-profile?tsn=179759.

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.

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