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Announcing a new ABMI Science Letter: Effects of industrial sectors on species abundance in Alberta

Periodically, the ABMI releases an ABMI Science Letter to share the methodology and results of our latest scientific endeavours. Today, we’re excited to release our fifth Science Letter: Effects of Industrial Sectors on Species Abundance in Alberta. Read on to find out more!

We at the ABMI spend a lot of time thinking about biodiversity. You’ve heard this before, but biodiversity is a good thing—it provides a host of benefits that we just couldn’t live without. At the same time, loss of native habitat is a threat to biodiversity around the world, and human activity is a major factor driving this transformation. We know, through our remote-sensing data and analysis, that 27% of Alberta’s land base has already been visibly altered by human activity, which the ABMI refers to as human footprint. And the process is ongoing, with 2% of the province converted during the last decade.

Autumn Alberta

Human footprint takes many forms. Transportation footprint, which often results in long, linear features that divide the landscape, extends to all corners of Alberta.

So how do we balance development and biodiversity? The ABMI believes that better information leads to better decisions, which is why we’re committed to making detailed, objective scientific data on biodiversity available to all Albertans. With that in mind, we’re pleased to announce the publication of the latest ABMI Science Letter, which looks at the effects of industrial development on the abundance of Alberta’s species.

How species respond to human footprint depends on the footprint type (i.e., what ‘sector’ created it), where the footprint occurs, and on how common that footprint type is in the environment. For example, one sector might have a positive effect on a species’ abundance in a particular region, while another sector has a negative effect. These effects might compound; on the other hand, they might cancel out, resulting in no observed change in the species’ regional abundance. To develop targeted land-use management practices and regulations, it’s important to understand the impact of each sector—such as forestry, energy, agriculture, and transportation—on individual species. This Science Letter outlines how ABMI data can be used to do just that.

Data like these are vital to supporting sustainable resource management and land-use decision-making that’s based on the best available evidence. Going forward, the ABMI will continue to provide tools for exploring alternative management options in land-use planning. Be sure to check out past issues of the Science Letters, and sign up to receive the latest updates!