© 2010 by Jeri D. Ledbetter, Lawrence E. Stevens, and Abraham E. Springer
Developed in 2010 by Jeri Ledbetter, Dr. Larry Stevens, and Dr. Abraham Springer, Springs Online offers a user-friendly interface and uses simple methods to enter, retrieve, and analyze springs inventory data. The database is easily accessible to landowners, land managers, conservation organizations, researchers, and the public, furthering our mission to provide quality information regarding springs.
Comprehensive inventory is a fundamental element of ecosystem stewardship. It provides essential information on the distribution and status of resources and processes within an ecosystem. We have developed a systematic method for collecting inventory data, which leads to assessment, planning, management action, and monitoring. The process involves three levels, each contributing to the complex evaluation of a spring.
Level 1 - General Reconnaissance
The beginning level involves a survey of a spring site. After a brief, 15 to 20 minute visit, surveyors record georeference data and access directions, photograph the source and the surrounding microhabitat, and note the basic features of the spring's ecosystem (biota and flow). Level 1 helps in identifying the distribution of springs across a landscape, as well as determining the level of need for more rigorous inventories.
At this point, a detailed inventory of the springs ecosystem is recorded. Surveyors describe baseline physical, biological, and administrative variables. Using standardized spreadsheets, surveyors record geomorphology, soils, geology, solar radiation, flora, fauna, water quality, flow, and any additional georeference data. They then record a thorough assessment of the site's condition and any potential risks to the spring system. The data collected during Level 2 is complex, consisting of two parts: a Springs Inventory Protocol (SIP), and Springs Ecological Assessment Protocol (SEAP). However, all of the data is interrelated - contributing to the quality of our relational database.
For example, water quality is linked to flow, geology, geomorphology, soils, flora, and fauna. A researcher utilizing Springs Online has the ability to compile this information, export it into their own spreadsheet, and analyze the biological, physical, and even cultural relationships of a spring.
After collection of the data, our team enters the data into the database. The structure of the database assures consistency of data. Pre-defined fields and drop down boxes provide standardization across all entries, while still providing customization for anomalous situations. Once data entry is complete, the information is accessible through a wide range of standardized reports that can be easily exported for a researcher's personal use.
Level 3 - Monitoring and Research
The ultimate goal of SSI is to create a tool for long term monitoring and assessment of spring health. This final stage is an ongoing and iterative process, during which project managers examine the data collected during Level 2, as well as conduct additional surveys over time to examine the effect of stewardship actions.