9.1    Biodiversity hotspots: identifying areas that are extra-special importance to managers and planners

Dr. Jim Schieck, Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute





All areas are unique, but for a variety of different reasons, some areas may be of extra-special importance to managers. Biodiversity hotspots occur in areas that are species rich, in areas that contain species and/or habitats that are rare on the landscape, in areas that have unique species/ community assemblages, and in areas that have unique combinations of physical environments. It is possible to identify these species and/or habitats hotspots and conduct spatial gap analyses to identify combinations of hotspots that meet specific management  objectives.

The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute  (ABMI) samples hundreds of native species (lichens, mosses, vascular plants, mites, birds, mammals, benthic invertebrates) throughout Alberta. In addition, ABMI has GIS layers describing human footprint, vegetation, soils, wetlands, climate, and topography in the oil sands region and throughout Alberta. This is a rich source of information that is used to identify areas that have unique biota and habitats, and to identify areas that may be of extra- special importance to managers and planners.

During the past year ABMI has begun to map biodiversity hotspots and to conduct gap analyses. Preliminary maps have been produced; these will be revised over time.




Received his BSc and MSc form University of Western Ontario, PhD from University of Alberta, and a Post Doc at Simon Fraser University. Jim presently is a research scientist at Alberta Innovates, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta,  and a science director for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. Jim’s research interests include avian ecology, population dynamics, community ecology, forest ecology, and conservation biology.