This report summarizes the life history and habitat requirements, distribution and population characteristics (e.g., size and trends) of key wildlife species and communities in the Regional Sustainable Development Strategy (RSDS) study area of northeastern Alberta. A summary of information on key fish species is presented in Volume 2 of this report. Key wildlife included 7 priority #1 species/communities (woodland caribou, moose, muskrat, fisher/small mammal, lynx/snowshoe hare, old growth forest bird community, and Canadian toad) and 8 priority #2 species/communities (black bear, beaver, river otter, ruffed grouse, pileated woodpecker, boreal owl, mixedwood forest bird community, and ducks and geese). Key fish included 2 priority #1 species (northern pike and walleye) and 4 priority #2 species (lake whitefish, Arctic grayling, longnose sucker, and burbot).
The information presented in this report is organized into detailed species and community accounts. Data was compiled from numerous sources, including government, industry, university and private/ non-profit organizations. Over 300 published and unpublished reports were reviewed to assimilate the information presented in this report. Habitat/life history requirements for each wildlife species were summarized as general living, foraging, reproducing, protective/thermal cover and migrating/ moving habitat requirements. Habitat elements that characterize moderate-high suitability habitats were also identified based on the results of existing habitat suitability index (HSI) models. Population sizes and trends, as well as the natural variability in population size, were reported where possible. Limited information was available on the population dynamics of most species. Information on population trends was augmented by a discussion of habitat trends within the oil sands area using the results of Cumulative Effects Assessments for various oil sands development projects. Data collected from oil sands projects, as well as other sources, on species sightings/ occurrences and important habitat areas were mapped using GIS. Finally, information gaps pertaining to habitat use, habitat requirements, and population characteristics for each key species/ community were identified.