Published January 1, 2015 | Version v1
Dataset Open

Projecting boreal bird responses to climate change: the signal exceeds the noise

  • 1. University of Alberta / Renewable Resources Dept
  • 2. USGS
  • 3. University of Alberta / Biological Sciences Dept
  • 4. University of Alberta / Biological Sciences
  • 5. Université Laval
  • 6. Canadian Wildlife Service


Current and projected future potential boreal bird densities (4-km resolution)

Citation for journal article associated with this dataset:
Stralberg, D., S. M. Matsuoka, A. Hamann, E. M. Bayne, P. Sólymos, F. K. A. Schmiegelow, X. Wang, S. G. Cumming, and S. J. Song. 2015. Projecting boreal bird responses to climate change: the signal exceeds the noise. Ecological Applications 25:52-69.

Coordinate System
Projection: Lambert Conformal Conic
False Easting: 0.00000000
False Northing: 0.00000000
Central Meridian: -95.00000000
Standard Parallel 1: 49.00000000
Standard Parallel 2: 77.00000000
Latitude Of Origin: 0.00000000
Linear Unit:  Meter
Datum: D WGS 1984

The boreal forest biome provides a resource-rich environment for breeding birds, supporting high species diversity and bird numbers. These birds are likely to shift their distributions northward in response to rapid climate change over the next century. We used a comprehensive dataset of avian point-count surveys from across boreal Canada and Alaska, combined with interpolated climate data, to develop bioclimatic niche models of current avian distribution and density for 80 boreal-breeding songbird species. We then used a downscaling of projected future climates to assess the potential for these species to change their distribution and abundance in response to climate change. Note that projections represent potential densities based on climatic conditions, land use and topography. They do not account for physiographic barriers such as the northern extent of the Rocky Mountains that may prevent colonization of otherwise suitable habitat. Therefore current species’ distributions may be over-estimated in certain regions, particularly in Alaska.

Boosted regression tree models of species distribution were averaged across two sets of covariates (climate-only and  climate + land use + topography), 11 bootstrap samples, and four global climate models. Mean projections and uncertainty estimates (coefficient of variation) are available for the current period (based on climate data from 1961-1990) and three future time periods (2011–2040, 2041­–2070, 2071–2100). Climate data layers available at

Diana Stralberg, University of Alberta (
Boreal Avian Modelling Project (

Project sponsors
Boreal Avian Modelling (BAM) Project
Alberta Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project

Avian data providers
USGS Breeding Bird Survey
Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada

BAM founding organisations and funders
Environment Canada
University of Alberta
Canadian BEACONs Project

Financial supporters
USFWS Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
Alberta Innovates Technology Futures
Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation
Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring
Killam Trusts
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Université Laval

Species code definitions
Code    Common name (Scientific name)
ALFL    Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum) ‡
AMCR    American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
AMGO    American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
AMPI    American Pipit (Anthus rubescens) ‡
AMRE    American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)
AMRO    American Robin (Turdus migratorius) ‡
ATSP    American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) ‡
BAWW    Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)
BBWA    Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea)
BCCH    Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) ‡
BHCO    Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
BHVI    Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius)
BLBW    Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca)
BLJA    Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
BLPW    Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata) ‡
BOCH    Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) ‡
BRBL    Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
BRCR    Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) ‡
BTNW    Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)
CAWA    Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis)
CCSP    Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)
CEDW    Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
CHSP    Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) ‡
CMWA    Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina)
COGR    Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
CONW    Connecticut Warbler (Oporornis agilis)
CORA    Common Raven (Corvus corax) ‡
CORE    Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea) ‡
COYE    Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
CSWA    Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
DEJU    Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) ‡
EAKI    Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
EAPH    Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)
EVGR    Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)
FOSP    Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) ‡
GCKI    Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) ‡
GCTH    Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) ‡
GRAJ    Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) ‡
HETH    Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) ‡
HOLA    Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) ‡
LCSP    Le Conte's Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii)
LEFL    Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus)
LISP    Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) ‡
MAWA    Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia)
MOWA    Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia)
NAWA    Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
NOWA    Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis) ‡
OCWA    Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) ‡
OSFL    Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) ‡
OVEN    Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)
PAWA    Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)
PHVI    Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus)
PIGR    Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) ‡
PISI    Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) ‡
PUFI    Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)
RBGR    Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)
RBNU    Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) ‡
RCKI    Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) ‡
REVI    Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
RUBL    Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) ‡
RWBL    Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) ‡
SAVS    Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) ‡
SOSP    Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
SWSP    Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
SWTH    Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) ‡
TEWA    Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)
TRES    Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) ‡
VATH    Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) ‡
VESP    Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
WAVI    Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)
WCSP    White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) ‡
WETA    Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
WEWP    Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus) ‡
WIWA    Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla) ‡
WIWR    Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)
WTSP    White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
WWCR    White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) ‡
YBFL    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)
YRWA    Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) ‡
YWAR    Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) ‡

‡ symbols denote the 38 species currently breeding in the Alaskan boreal region.


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