5.3   Use of aerial survey methods to estimate ungulate populations in the oil sands region

Simon Slater, AEMERA





Oil sands development is believed to have changed ungulate population dynamics, especially in areas of higher landscape disturbance. Aerial surveys provide critical information to assess population size, distribution and trends in addition to examining the impacts of harvesting, predation or other disturbances on ungulate populations. The AEMERA-ESRD enhanced moose (Alces alces) and deer (Odocoileus virginianus and O. hemionus) monitoring program involves increasing the quantity and frequency of aerial ungulate surveys within the oil sands region in order to enhance the efficacy of population estimates. Wildlife Management Units that overlap (>50%) with the oil sands region were surveyed using Gasaway (2013) and Distance sampling survey methods (2014-2015). Eleven aerial ungulate surveys have been completed in the oil sands region since the inception of the JOSM program and results from the 2013 and 2014 surveys will be discussed.




Simon is a Wildlife Monitoring Specialist currently seconded to AEMERA. He was hired by Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) to help deliver the ESRD Joint Oil Sands Monitoring wildlife biodiversity program. This program includes woodland caribou, barred owl and ungulate monitoring in the oil sands region. Simon received a Master’s of Science in Conservation Biology from the University of Alberta with his research focusing on woodland caribou conservation in Alberta.