Stretching from Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador, North America's boreal region is blanketed by vast tracts of intertwined forest and wetland ecosystems. Together, these dynamic habitats sustain one of the world's richest and most diverse assemblages of wildlife, and provide breeding grounds for billions of migratory birds. The forests of the boreal region, dominated by spruce, fir and poplar trees, represent one quarter of the world's remaining intact forest. The boreal's wetlands-a mosaic of unique environments such as bog, muskeg, fen, outwash, lakes and rivers-are the nursery to numerous waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds and other species.
Known as the "bird nursery" of North America, the boreal region provides habitat for over 300 avian species and hosts up to an estimated 3 billion breeding birds during the summer months. The remoteness that once protected the boreal region from interference also means that we have little detailed information about this biome, including the status of its wildlife inhabitants.
Today, growing pressures from industrial development and climate change, combined with evidence of species declines in the boreal region, lend urgency to the BAM project's mission. We don't know how this rapid habitat change will impact boreal birds. However, more information on bird distribution, abundance, habitat associations, risks to species and conservation actions will help to improve land use and conservation planning, environmental assessments, monitoring programs, and will facilitate more effective conservation in general.
Fortunately, we have an unparalleled opportunity for proactive conservation planning in the boreal forest. More than ever, the availability of avian and biophysical data along with the maturity of statistical modelling techniques enable unprecedented analyses of boreal avian populations. The results of our models will be of immediate use to decision-makers. Regular updates of monitoring data and new research results will ensure that the information remains relevant and current. Applications of this work include the development of scenario analyses that examine how changes to land use and climate will affect boreal birds, and the identification of conservation priorities for land management.