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

Elk are typically associated with open mixed wood forests and grasslands but habitat preference varies throughout the year. Males will gather "harems" of females in open valley bottoms and forest openings during the autumn rut.  

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.

  • Elk relative abundance is generally low in the forested region.
  • Elk relative abundance is highest in shrub and grass vegetation types.

Relationship to Linear Footprint


Relationship to Linear Footprint in the Forested 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.

  • Elk relative abundance is predicted to have no relationship with soft linear footprint and a slight, negative relationship with hard linear footprint in the forested region.

If it is not possible to create complex habitat association models for species, we present a coarse index of habitat use which represents the proportion of detections in each native vegetation, soil, and human footprint type in comparison to the proportional availability of the habitat types.

Habitat Associations for Species with Few Detections in the Prairie Region

Use-availability index graph: Index of species habitat use based on the proportion of species detections in each native vegetation and human footprint type in comparison to the habitat availability. The index (bars) range from -1 (avoidance) to +1 (preference), given availability of a particular vegetation or human footprint type.

Impacts of Human Footprint

Elk are adapted to open areas and forest clearings so are tolerant of moderate human habitat alteration. However, human activity can facilitate predator access affecting Elk habitat use and population abundance.

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.

  • All human footprint types have negative unit effects on Elk predicted relative abundance in the forested region.
  • Rural/Urban, agriculture and forestry footprint have the largest negative unit effects on Elk in the forested region, resulting in predicted declines in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.

Predicted Relative Abundance

Elk are found throughout the forested region of southern Alberta, particularly in the Foothills Natural Region, and rarely in the north of the Boreal Forest Natural Region.

Reference Conditions

  • The reference condition shows the predicted relative abundance of the Elk (wapiti) 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 Elk (wapiti) taking current human footprint (circa 2016) into account.

Difference Conditions

  • Elk relative abundance is predicted to be lower under current compared to reference conditions throughout much of their range in Alberta, especially in the Foothills Natural Region.

References & Credits

References & Credits

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Government of Alberta. 2010. Elk (Cervus elaphus). http://esrd.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/deer/elk.aspx. Accessed October 28, 2014.  

Eder, T. and G. Kennedy,  2011. Mammals of Canada. Edmonton, AB: Lone Pine Publishing.

Hebblewhite, M., C.A. White, C.G. Nietvelt, J.A. McKenzie, T.E. Hurd, J.M. Fryxell, S.E. Bayley, and P.C. Paquet. 2005. Human activity mediates a trophic cascade caused by wolves. Ecology 86(8):2135-2144.

Smith, H.C.,R.I. Hastings and J.A. Burns1993. Alberta Mammals: An Atlas and Guide. Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta.

Van Tighem, K. 2001. Elk & Deer: Antlered Animals of the West. Altitude Publishing Canada, Canmore, AB.

Data Sources

Data collected by ABMI.

Photo Credits

Photos: TBD

Recommended Citation

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2019. Elk (wapiti) (Cervus elaphus). ABMI Website: abmi.ca/home/data-analytics/biobrowser-home/species-profile?tsn=180695.

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

for testing profile: [{QALog=

Niki Wilson edited for tone and copy Jan-10-2017.

Niki Wilson / John Wilmshurst Published on November-09-2018

, RevisionNL=ABMI Approval NL, RevisionBB=ABMI Approval BB, QAStatus=Published, AuthorName=Linnaeus, 1758, smallProfile=http://abmi.ca/FileDownloadServlet?dir=WEB_GRAPH&filename=/profiles/Cervus-elaphus-small.jpg, WebMainDescription=

Elk, the second largest deer species in North America after the Moose, is a year-round resident of grasslands and open forests throughout Alberta. They can be found in all natural regions except the Canadian Shield Natural Region.

, WebHFForestUnderFootprintSectorEffect=, WebHFPrairieRegionalSectorEffect=, WebNonTreeGraphText=, AppConfusedWith=[{videoLink=}, {videoLink=}, {videoLink=}, {videoLink=}], miniCircle=/profiles/Cervus-elaphus-small.jpg, UpdatedBy=Niki Wilson / John Wilmshurst, WebDifferenceMapText= , WebHabitat=

Elk are typically associated with open mixed wood forests and grasslands but habitat preference varies throughout the year. Males will gather "harems" of females in open valley bottoms and forest openings during the autumn rut.  

, WebHFEffect=

Elk are adapted to open areas and forest clearings so are tolerant of moderate human habitat alteration. However, human activity can facilitate predator access affecting Elk habitat use and population abundance.

, largeProfile=http://abmi.ca/FileDownloadServlet?dir=WEB_GRAPH&filename=/profiles/Cervus-elaphus-large.jpg, WebHFForestRegionalSectorEffect=, WebTreeGraphText=, WebHFForestRegionGraph= , CommonName=Elk (wapiti), UpdateHistory=[], SpeciesGroup=Mammals, mainBanner=/profiles/Cervus-elaphus-large.jpg, WebFLinearHFGraphText= , WebPLinearHFGraphText=, WebHFPrairieUnderFootprintSectorEffect=, WebForestedRegionGraphText= , ScientificName=Cervus elaphus, AppPhotos=[], TSN=180695, WebRange=

Elk are found throughout the forested region of southern Alberta, particularly in the Foothills Natural Region, and rarely in the north of the Boreal Forest Natural Region.

, SummaryType=TRUE, QADate=2017-01-10T00:00:00.000-07:00, WebReference=

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Government of Alberta. 2010. Elk (Cervus elaphus). http://esrd.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/deer/elk.aspx. Accessed October 28, 2014.  

Eder, T. and G. Kennedy,  2011. Mammals of Canada. Edmonton, AB: Lone Pine Publishing.

Hebblewhite, M., C.A. White, C.G. Nietvelt, J.A. McKenzie, T.E. Hurd, J.M. Fryxell, S.E. Bayley, and P.C. Paquet. 2005. Human activity mediates a trophic cascade caused by wolves. Ecology 86(8):2135-2144.

Smith, H.C.,R.I. Hastings and J.A. Burns1993. Alberta Mammals: An Atlas and Guide. Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta.

Van Tighem, K. 2001. Elk & Deer: Antlered Animals of the West. Altitude Publishing Canada, Canmore, AB.

, Note=

Old Profile. Management Issues: 

In Banff national park Elk/Human interactions have been controlled through maintenance of a stable Elk population, restoring migratory behavior in Elk and teaching them to avoid the townsite.

JW:  BB and NL updated to Sep 2016 template revisions and Sep 2016 analysis

JW: revised NL to improve readability (~7)

, QAPerson=Niki Wilson | KM (BB), WebPhotos=[]}]
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Logo, Small

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