1) Introduction - The Critical and Complex Nature of Springs
Toward the goal of improving global springs stewardship, we have developed a methodology for inventory and assessment of the ecological health and functionality of these fragile resources. A comprehensive evaluation requires a survey of geomorphology, soils, geology, solar radiation, flora, fauna, water quality, flow, georeferencing, and cultural resources, as well as a thorough assessment of the site's condition and risks to the ecosystem. The information we collect in each category is complex, and many of the data are interrelated. For example, water quality is linked to flow, geology, geomorphology, soils, flora, and fauna. We have designed a relational database that provides a framework to cmmopile this information, and to analyze biological, physical, and cultural relationships, many of which are poorly understood.
Our new online Springs Inventory Database offers a user-friendly interface that offers easy methods to enter, retrieve, and analyze inventory data, making it accessible for landowners and managing agencies as well as researchers to improve the quality and integration of information about springs. The structure assures consistency of data, using dropdown boxes, while still providing flexibility for anomalous situations. Finding this balance can be challenging, and usually requires compromise of either flexibility or consistency. Once the data are entered, the information will be accessible through a wide range of standardized reports that are easily generated and exported. We will also develop the capacity for researchers to access information through complex queries.
The database is currently in final stages of beta testing; we anticipate launching the application in April. To access information, please create a user account, and indicate an area of interest.