Some researchers have extensively studied individual springs. Dean Blinn of Northern Arizona University conducted comprehensive studies and published extensively about the unique ecology of Montezuma Well in Arizona (Blinn 2008, Runck and Blinn 1994, Wagner and Blinn 2000). Researchers have extensively studied Devils Hole spring in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge of Nevada, primarily because it supports an endangered endemic species, the Devil’s Hole pupfish (Landwehr 2004). Tim Graham’s study (1997) of Knowles Canyon Hanging Garden in Glen Canyon, Utah focused on effects of fire on vegetation and soils.
Springs as Water Features
Some researchers have included springs along with studies of other water resources such as streams, lakes, and ponds (Brown and Moran 1979, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council 2002, 2004). Wells and tanks are sometimes grouped as springs. Yet although springs provide baseflow for streams and rivers, and often are the primary source of water for ponds and lakes, their ecology is fundamentally different from other aquatic habitats, and therefore requires different inventory, assessment, and restoration methods.
Springs Within a Landscape
Don Sada completed extensive research on aquatic desert ecosystems of the Great Basins and Mojave Desert. Although some of his work included a wide range of biota (Sada and Nachlinger 1996), much of his work focused on endemic springsnails (Sada 2008 a and b, Nash 2009). Williams et al (1997) examined the relationship between water chemistry and macro invertebrate communities at 20 springs in Ontario. Krezic and Zoran (2010) recently published a book focused on springs hydrology with many hydrologic and management anecdotes, but virtually no attention to springs ecology.
Gunner (1981) completed a thorough inventory of springs in about half the counties in Texas, but with limited data collection of location, name, and some very general information about the sites. The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey completed an exhaustive inventory of Wisconsin's springs (Macholl 2007). This notable effort produced a database with 10,851 features, but with a limited array of data. Scott et al (2004) inventoried springs in Florida, but limited the research to the hydrology and geochemistry of limnocrene (pool-forming) spring types. Similar efforts have been made for Missouri (Vineyard and Feder 1982), and Alberta (Borneuf 1983). Most recently the Alberta Geological Survey (2009) released a shape file of the province's spring.
The US Forest Service (2010) has initiated a nationwide effort to inventory and monitor groundwater dependent ecosystems. They are currently developing and testing inventory protocols in selected forest lands. Several units of the National Park Service have made an effort to survey springs regionally. Other agencies are contemplating similar programs. However, these efforts lack a collaborative approach.
Several recent studies focused on springs of Arizona have contributed greatly to understanding of springs ecology in this arid region. Geology Graduate students from Northern Arizona University have investigated the hydrogeology of Central Arizona springs (Flora 2004), using these springs as indicators of drought (Rice 2007), and the relationship between geomorphology and plant diversity (Hallum 2010). The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4-FRI) has led to increased interest in springs ecology (Springer 2010).