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New Alberta portal offers detailed species and mapping info

Website profiles show where species are likely to be found and how they respond to human activity

Detailed information on hundreds of Alberta plant and animal species is now available online. The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute — a global leader in biodiversity monitoring — has created the Data & Analytics Portal to provide easy access to the institute’s extensive biodiversity-related data, reports, and maps.

A key part of the portal is the Biodiversity Browser, which has more than 350 profiles of various bird, mammal, and vascular plant species. The goal is to eventually have profiles for the more than 2,000 species that the institute collects data on. Each profile includes information on the species’ habitat preferences and how human activities, such as agriculture and forestry, affect its abundance. It also includes maps of where a species is likely to be found.

For example, if a user wants Alberta-specific information on the Gray Jay — recently named Canada’s national bird — the browser shows it prefers mid-aged to old black spruce and larch stands and uses these conifer trees for nesting and food storage. A ‘Difference’ map for the Gray Jay on the browser shows this species is estimated to have decreased across much of its range in Alberta.

The Biodiversity Browser has profiles of hundreds of species (and their prevalence across Alberta), including the Gray Jay — which was named Canada’s national bird by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society last year.
photo: Thinkstock

The portal also has an online mapping tool, where users can interact with and query a variety of biodiversity-related maps. For example, users can view the distribution of different types of human footprints across the province, such as the agriculture footprint. If interested in the intensity of agriculture in a particular area, the user can zoom in or select from various predetermined administrative units, such as land-use regions, to obtain summary statistics for that area. And they can launch another map, for example provincial energy footprint, for a side-by-side comparison of two maps.

For more than 10 years, the institute has been collecting data and reporting on the health of Alberta’s biodiversity for use in natural resource management and land-use decision-making, as well as for anybody interested in the state of Alberta’s natural heritage.

“As Albertans continue to demand that environmental values be considered alongside economic ones, it’s critical that decision-makers have high-quality data and information available to them,” said Kirk Andries, the institute’s executive director.

The Data & Analytics Portal can be accessed at www.abmi.ca/data and www.abmi.ca/maps.

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