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Avian demographics provide an indication of habitat quality and complexity, due to the habitat requirements of the individual species among landbird taxa. The MAPS protocol (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) was applied in a 2011 pilot program in the boreal forest in the oil sands region to determine the applicability of the protocol in supporting evaluations of reclaimed habitats and to provide data supportive of population trend analyses. Six MAPS stations were established: three (BPND, MUSR, VWET) in natural undisturbed areas, two (GWAY, BISN) in reclaimed areas, and one (BCDS) in a semi-natural, reservoir shoreline area. The abundance of birds processed in 2011 was high (1,937 captures and 1,605 new bandings). Capture rate was highest at the natural habitat MUSR station (885 per 600 net-hr) and lowest at the reclaimed GWAY station (140). Capture rate at the reclaimed BISN station (730) was similar to that at the natural stations. Mean apparent productivity (across all species) in natural habitat stations was 0.91 (SE 0.24), that at BISN was higher (1.28), and that at GWAY was lower (0.24). Diversity of captured birds ranged from 19 (GWAY) to 37 (BISN) species; however, the number of species observed and exhibiting breeding behaviours at these two reclaimed stations were similar to those at the natural and semi-natural stations. Up to nine species and four breeding species at each station are listed as sensitive in Alberta or Canada. Improvements in reclamation practices at BISN relative to those applied at GWAY may explain some of the differences in bird abundance, productivity and diversity. The MAPS protocol can be effectively applied in the region, will provide data and information on the quality of reconstructed habitats in reclaimed areas, and will contribute data for use in estimating population vital rates.
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