Nature and Biodiversity - Habitat
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In the face of increasing economic opportunities in Canada's northern regions, the need to improve our state of preparedness for oil spill related emergencies in particular is critical. While significant efforts have been put towards documenting baseline coastal information across Canada’s southern regions, there is a large information gap regarding Arctic shorelines. Baseline coastal information such as shoreline form, substrate and vegetation type, is required for operational prioritization, coordination of on-site spill response activities (i.e., SCAT: Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique), as well as providing valuable information for wildlife and ecosystem management. A standardized methodology was developed to map shoreline characteristics at six study sites across the Canadian Arctic: James Bay, Resolute Bay, Hudson Bay, Labrador Coast, Victoria Strait, and Beaufort Sea. Geo-referenced high definition videography was collected during the summers of 2010 to 2012 along coastlines within the study sites. Detailed information (i.e. shoreline type, substrate, form, height, slope, fetch, access type, exposure, etc.) describing the upper intertidal, supratidal, and backshore zones was extracted from the video and entered into a geospatial database using a data collection form. This information was used to delimit and map alongshore segments in the upper intertidal zone. The result is a vector dataset containing thousands of linear shoreline segments ranging in length from 200 m and 2 km long. In total, almost seven thousand kilometers of northern shorelines were mapped, including twenty five different shoreline types based on the upper intertidal zone. This information will feed into a larger ongoing project focused on Arctic coastal ecosystems as well as serve as valuable information for oil spill response planning should the need arise. This database also provides valuable information for habitat management, local shoreline planning, can feed into environmental assessments or be used to aid research site selection.
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s cause-effect monitoring is focused on understanding how boreal songbirds, including several Species at Risk, are affected by human activity in the oil sands area, particularly the impact of the physical disturbance of forested habitats from exploration, development and construction of oil sands. Determining the abundance of songbird species associated with various habitat type(s) and understanding how the type and number of birds varies with type and amount of habitat, are important components of assessing the effect of habitat disturbance. Regional-scale monitoring focuses on understanding how and why boreal songbirds, including several Species at Risk, are affected by human activity across the Peace, Athabasca and Cold Lake oil sands area. Local-scale projects focus on addressing gaps in our understanding of complex response patterns at regional scales by targeting specific habitats or development features of interest. These data contribute to: a. improving the design of monitoring programs; b. explaining observed trends in populations (why bird populations are increasing or decreasing); c. predicting population sizes within the oil sands area; and d. assessing the individual, additive and cumulative effects of oil sands and other resource development on boreal birds. Data are used by ECCC and our partners to develop new models and increase the robustness of existing models of bird responses to habitat and disturbance. Because models can be used to predict outcomes of future land management scenarios, these models can assist decision-making by helping evaluate land-use choices before impacts are directly observed.
Surveyor shorebird bird observations and counts for all years.
Survey points is a point feature class containing transects and observations completed in 2011.
Survey areas is a polygon feature class containing mudflats and staging areas observed for shorebirds.
Survey transects is a line feature class containing transects completed in 2011.
These shorebird surveys are conducted intermittently at a series of sites near the town of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, during northward (April to May) and southward migration (July to November). This survey includes all shorebird species. Surveyors used binoculars or a spotting scope to count the total number of shorebirds present within the natural boundaries of each survey site during the northward and/or southward migration periods. They used a boat to count birds within the entire area of Arakun Flats and Ducking Flats by traveling along the outer edge of the mudflats, and by stopping at standardized vantage points on land. They also used a boat to view as much area as possible within Maltby Slough, South Bay and Grice Bay from the openings to each of these bays. Surveyors walked the entire length of Chesterman Beach including the tombolo to Frank Island. Surveys were done at least twice a week at each site. Most boat surveys began at low tide when the mudflats were exposed and continued on the rising tide. Road accessible sites were usually surveyed during the hour before high tide or at high tide in 2011. Surveys were not conducted in weather that reduced visibility or made boat travel unsafe (heavy rain or high wind). Surveyors counted birds individually when they were within flocks of fewer than 200 birds. They estimated the size of larger flocks by counting 50 or 100 birds and then judged how many similar-sized groups made up the entire flock. Distant flocks were recorded as small or large shorebirds and assumed to have the same species composition as those closer to shore in 1995 or identified to species group and recorded as either “dowitchers” or “peeps” in 2011.
This national dataset contains geographic range data for 488 Species at risk based on NatureServe data, SAR recovery strategies, Environment Canada resources and COSEWIC status reports.
These surveys focus on two abundant shorebird species, Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina), and are conducted at a large mudflat on Roberts Bank, Delta, British Columbia, approximately 35 km south of Vancouver. These survey counts began in 1991 and are conducted annually during the northern migration period (April and May). Species-specific counts are derived from total flock counts multiplied by an estimate of percentage composition of the two species. The Brunswick Point study site (49°03′ N, 123°09′ W) extends over the southern third of Roberts Bank, and encompasses a large mudflat (tidal range = 0 – 3.8 m) separated from agricultural fields by a dike. Vegetation in the near shore sections of the mudflat is composed mostly of saltmarsh and bushes. Sediments in the mudflat range from soft mud to sand, and portions of the lower intertidal zone are covered with eelgrass (Zostera marina and Z. japonica). A causeway supporting a major port facility separates the mudflat from the remainder of Roberts Bank, and the dike is used for recreational purposes. Total flock counts. The number of total flock counts conducted annually varied from seven to 15 counts from 1991 to 1998. Beginning in 1999, counts were conducted either daily or every other day during spring migration for an annual replicate of 17 32 counts. The migration period began on 15 April each year and continued until lesser than 1000 birds were observed or until 15 May, whichever came first. This timing was chosen to overlap with the major pulse of Western Sandpiper migration and also captured peak Dunlin numbers. Daily timing of surveys depended on the tide cycle; the start of surveys ranged between 05:45 and 19:00 hr. Counts were conducted at a tide height of 3.5 m, based on tidal predictions at Point Atkinson, British Columbia. This tide height ensured birds were close to shore, with sufficient mudflat exposed to present good feeding opportunities for shorebirds. Occasionally maximum daily tide heights did not reach 3.5 m, and counts on these days were conducted during the actual maximum tide heights. Counts began at the southern end of the Brunswick Point dike where it meets the Roberts Bank Superport causeway. All birds visible on the mudflat were counted from a vehicle along a series of stops on the dike, for a total length of ~2.5 km. Birds were counted through a spotting scope mounted on the vehicle window, primarily for distant flocks, and through binoculars to count birds near the vehicle. Flocks were counted by an initial assessment of flock density, and then by counting blocks incrementally in 50s, 100s, 500s, or 1000s, according to flock size, in each successive field of view across a scan of the entire flock. In 1992, the number of birds in large flocks was estimated by multiplying the number of square metres of mudflat covered by the flock by the average number of sandpipers in several 1-m2 plots estimated by eye (Butler 1994). Species composition: Only total flock counts were conducted prior to 1997, as deriving species-specific counts was complicated by the intermixing of Western Sandpipers and Dunlin in the large flocks. Species-specific counts are calculated as a product of total flock counts and percentage composition of different species. From 1997 onwards, relative species composition (ratio of Western Sandpipers to Dunlins) was estimated during supplementary counts as birds settled on the mudflats before or after the main shorebird counts described above. Numbers of Western Sandpipers and Dunlins were individually tallied along visually estimated 1 m wide strips that ran perpendicular from the dike to the water’s edge, and included both open mudflat and shallow water. Tallies of all strip counts were summed and the species proportion for that day was calculated as the number of each species counted divided by the total number of birds.
This line outlines the basic survey route included in the survey counts. This route is the best access to areas that can be surveyed from shore.