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The Biophysical Dataset


BAM has been working to acquire comprehensive spatial environmental variables relevant to our modelling objectives. Variables were chosen to include examples of biophysical factors known or expected to affect avian distributions at the national or continental scales. The biophysical data were collected independently of the avian data, so the locations of the biophysical data do not necessarily correspond to locations where avian data were collected.

Our data includes remotely-sensed land cover information, climate measures, and forest productivity indices. We drew from existing, public sources of data, as well as privately-held digital Forest Resource Inventories (FRI). These inventories, assembled by provincial governments or by tenure holders such as forest companies, provide more detailed information on land cover characteristics, such as types and ages of trees, than what can be extracted from satellite imaging.

Digital forest resource inventories (FRI data) were obtained for nearly all of boreal Canada. We have combined the data from all provinces (each of which uses different formats) into one consistent format, to obtain a national FRI dataset. The Common Attribute Schema (CAS) procedure to address the variation between forest inventories was developed jointly for the Boreal Avian Modelling Project and the Canadian BEACONs project and is described in METHODS

The types of biophysical data in our databases include:

  • Land cover, derived from multi-spectral remote-sensed data, at a 250 m resolution using the Land Cover Map of Canada 2005; (39 classes reclassified in to 17);
  • Remote-sensed covariates are publicly available products derived from MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or SPOT (Système Pour l'Observation de la Terre) imagery
  • Hydrology and land use;
  • Climate variables (temperature and precipitation) produced by the Canadian Forest Service from data collected at Environmental Canada weather stations, including daily minimum and maximum values, monthly and annual means, indices of seasonality, and climate normal values. (Climate normal are 30 year (1971 - 2000) means and standard deviations of monthly temperatures and precipitation);
  • Forest productivity including stand age and composition;
  • Leaf area indices (LAI) representing how much green leaf or needle area exists per unit ground area, which varies over the course of growing season for deciduous trees, but is more stable for coniferous trees; and
  • Disturbance history (fire and forest harvesting).

Click here for a PDF summary document of the types of biophysical data used by BAM with links to their sources.

See the below reports for a detailed summary of our Biophysical Database as of 2010: