Research is a key component in ecosystem-based management to ensure that landscapes are maintained in perpetuity. Studying ecosystems and ecological processes enables Parks Division to make informed, evidence-based decisions in park management. Several past and current research projects have influenced and enhanced existing management practices.
Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park
The majority of research is conducted around the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory (LSLBO) and the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation (BCBC) located in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.
Historical Fire Regimes of Kananaskis Country
Wildfire is a natural ecosystem process that is vital to ecosystem health and species diversity. Over the last several decades, fires have become less common due to effective fire suppression. Loss of fire is having impacts on forest health, species diversity and water resources and may exacerbate the effects of changing climate. Restoring fire to the landscape through prescribed fires is important for maintaining healthy ecosystems.
Scott Jevons is studying historical frequency and patterns of wildfire to develop a strong science-based foundation for reintroducing fire to the landscape. Studies are underway to determine fire regimes for Montane and Sub-alpine natural subregions.
Several historical fire studies have already been done for the Kananaskis area. The aim of these current studies is to build on past research by collecting new fire history data, refining methodologies and types of analysis to determine the temporal and spatial range of variation in fire frequency.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park-Alberta - Park Research
- Re-established cougar population
- Forest and tree encroachment into Fescue Grasslands
- Forest and fire management strategy
- Bird-banding station (new pilot project) operated by the Calgary Bird Banding Society
Dinosaur Provincial Park - Park Research
- MultiSAR study
- Rock art monitoring project
- Range vegetation assessment (West Block)
- Resource inventory (West Block)
Other Research Projects
- Defining protected area boundaries based on vascular-plant species richness from archived satellite imagery. This study developed an innovative method to count plant diversity from space to: (a) define an ecologically relevant park boundary; and (b) enable land managers to identify biodiversity hotspots on the landscape and integrate this into regional land-use plans.
- Published in: Biological Conservation (2012)
- Authors: G.Z. Sass, M. Wheatley, D.A. Aldred, A.J. Gould and I.F. Creed
- Affiliations/collaborations: University of Western Ontario, Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation
- Marten and fishers: how the spatial distribution of one species affects that of another within shared landscapes. This study shows that for successful species management within a park (including threatened/listed species), providing decent habitat is not enough. It is necessary to consider what else might be successful in that particular habitat, for the other factor may prevent the successful persistence or recovery of the desired species. In this study, the absence of one species significantly explained the occurrence of the other.
- Published in: Ecography (2012)
- Authors: Jason T. Fisher, Brad Anholt, Steve Bradbury, Matthew Wheatley and John Volpe
- Affiliations/collaborations: Alberta Innovates, TPR, SRD, University of Victoria
- Woodland Caribou: site versus landscape-scale approach to management. If we are interested in recovering a species, it is beneficial to understand how to interpret data collected at small sites versus large areas. This study focused on woodland caribou to develop models that account for these scale issues and aid in critical habitat identification, species recovery and caribou-fire planning.
- Published in: Ecological Applications (2011)
- Authors: DeCesare, Nicholas J., Hebblewhite, M., Schmiegelow, F., Hervieux, D., McDermid, G., Neufeld, L., Bradley, M., Whittington, J., Smith, K., Morgantini, L. E., Wheatley, M. and M. Musiani
- Affiliations/collaborations:University of Montana, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Parks Canada, Weyerhaeuser Ltd., SRD, Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation
- Grizzly Bears: we know where the bears are, but where do they breed? Remote cameras were used to identify breeding habitat for grizzly bears. This is a practical, cost-effective method for long-term monitoring of threatened species in Alberta's parks and adjacent park systems.
- Published in: submitted to Journal of Applied Ecology (2012)
- Authors: Jason T. Fisher, Matthew T. Wheatley and Darryl MacKenzie
- Affiliations/collaborations: Alberta Innovates, Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation, Proteus Research & Consulting Ltd (Dunedin, New Zealand).