Survey Information

Watch this short video for an overview of the survey data form.

To add a new survey, locate the correct spring, and from the Site Information form, click the Surveys Tab. Then click Add New Survey. You will need to enter the Survey Date in the format yyyy-mm-dd. If known, enter the survey Begin and End times in 24-hour format (hh:mm). You must enter a Project from the dropdown list that you have permission to access.

After entering the project for the survey, the next required field is Survey Protocol (Fig. 18a). Select the protocol used during the survey (i.e Stevens et. al. Level I, GDE Level I USFS, etc.). Enter the full names of the Surveyors, and click the Create Survey Button.

Fig. 18a: When adding a survey, the survey date, project, protocol (highlighted), and surveyor names are required.

There are ten tabs on the Survey Form that opens after clicking on a Survey DateGeneral, Reports, Flow, H20 Quality, Invertebrates, Vertebrates, Images, SEAP, QAQC, and Admin. These Tabs will be discussed in the screen shots and figures below.

Fig. 18: The Survey General Tab.

The General Tab includes Survey Notes (the condition), as well as the Survey Date, Beginning and Ending Times, and Surveyors' Names. As mentioned previously, each Survey must be associated with a Project, and users must have permission to access the Project. Should a user add a survey without a Project, or to a Project for which he does not have database permissions, the survey will immediately become inaccessible. This can be alarming. Should you lose the ability to access data that you have added for this or any other reason, please contact rather than add it again. To return to the Site Information form, click the Back to Site Info link.

The Reports Tab contains previously uploaded summary reports for the spring as well as gives users the option to generate a summary report that is then exported to Microsoft Word. Watch this short video for a demonstration of this capacity.

Fig. 19: The Flow tab.

The Flow Tab manages survey flow data for the spring. All flow measurements in the database should be entered as liters per second (L/s) so they may be compared. Persistence, Flow Variability, and Flow Consistency are dropdown fields. In the Measurement Location field, briefly describe where measurements were taken at the site, in addition to noting them on the Sketchmap (see Add/Edit Survey Polygons). If you have calculated the flow you may also enter the flow in the Measured Flow (L/s)  field. Note that this must be entered in Liters per second in order for flows to be compared throughout the database. The Online Conversion hyperlink will take you to one of several conversion websites. The Flow Rate Scale (0-6) is automatically filled in when this field is updated. At times, although there is water at the site it may be impossible to measure the flow. In this case, the Flow Rate Scale can be set to 9 to designate that it was unmeasurable, and the Unmeasurable field provides options to explain the circumstances.

Fig. 20: Entering Flow data

To enter raw volumetric data, select Volume in the Measurement Technique, and very briefly describe the details about how the measurement was captured. Also estimate the total % captured at the site. For example, in this case, the flow was measured in two channels, but an estimated 15% of the flow emerged in a wet meadow that surveyors were unable to capture. Click the Add Measurement Button. You can record multiple measurements for each point where they were taken; these will be averaged. Should you measure flow at additional points, in this example, in two channels, these will be added together. Enter the default container volume in liters, then enter each measurement, including the location and fill time in seconds. You should also enter the % captured for each measurement. In this example, surveyors estimated that they captured 90% of the flow that passed through the channel in their first measurement. Note that a value such as 90% should be entered as “90” rather than “0.9”.  Click Add Measurement to record it.

Fig. 21: Adding flow measurements.

If surveyors took multiple measurements, you can continue to add these, and the values at each point will be averaged. In this example, the average of point 1 measurements is 0.031 L/s, and the average of point 2 measurements is 0.01. Once all data have been entered, click the Record Flow Value button to calculate the Measured Flow. Note that while the sum of the averaged measurements in this example is 0.0405 L/s (circled in red).  The Measured Flow is 0.048 L/s (circled in blue); this value factors in the total 85% captured.

The H2O Quality Tab records water quality results taken in the field or reported by a lab. In the Collection Comments field, briefly describe the location and/or circumstances of the measurements. Any comments or notes regarding water quality results should be entered in the Water Quality Results Comments field. In the standard report exports, the average will be calculated for multiple readings of a characteristic. A wide variety of variables are listed; these comply with the EPA Storet list of water quality characteristics.  To add a measurement, click the Add Measurement Button (circled). A blank set of fields will open (Figure 26).

Fig. 22: The H2O Quality tab.

Select the Parameter measured from the dropdown list (Figure 23). Enter the Measurement; this must be a number. Enter the Device from the dropdown list. If you wish to add a device see the section on Editing Lookup Tables. The Relative value is used to qualify the numeric value, such as "less than" or "present". You may also add a Comment regarding individual field or lab results. Click the "?" box if the measurement is questionable; or you might consider not entering it at all if the value is sufficiently dubious. Once the measurement data are entered, click the Add Measurement Button. Should you wish to delete an entry, click the checkbox next to it, then click the Delete Button. To edit an entry, click the Edit symbol (the pencil ). 

Fig. 23: Adding the H2O Quality measurements.

Fig. 23: Adding the H2O Quality measurements.

The Collection Comments field should include the location where measurements were taken, and any other appropriate information. The location should also be noted on the Sketchmap. Any comments about the measurements or analysis of the water chemistry results may be entered in the Water Quality Results Comments field. Once all data have been entered, check the Water Quality Data Entered checkbox. If you are waiting for lab results, leave this box unchecked as a reminder that you anticipate additional data. Once all results have been entered, check this field.

Use the Invertebrates tab to report invertebrate specimens collected or observed during the survey. Species are listed by order or group and full scientific name. Click the Add Invert Record to open a blank set of fields (Figure 24).

Fig. 24: The Invertebrates tab (click to enlarge).

Fig. 25: Adding Invertebrates records (click to enlarge).

In the Invertebrate Taxon field, begin typing any part of the scientific or common name to bring up a list of invertebrate species in the database.  If the species has not been identified, it can be entered to any taxonomic level. For example, if all you know is that it's a dragonfly, enter "Odonata".   If there are more than one, you can enter descriptions such as "sp 1", "sp 2", "blue", "Large" in the Comments field. These will then be counted as separate species in the Species Count, which is automatically calculated (highlighted in Fig. 25). Under Qty, enter the number of specimens collected or observed; if this is unknown, or if there were too many to count, leave it blank and note the estimated number under Species Detail. If known, enter the Life Stage, Habitat, and Method. Enter the Rep # if it was collected in a benthic sample. It is important to identify each specimen as Aquatic or Terrestrial under Habitat, as these values are used in the calculations (Figure 27). If Benthic (Quantitative data) are entered, include the location, depth, velocity, and substrate information under Fauna Notes on the Vertebrates Tab (Figure 30). If necessary, you can click one or more of the checkboxes left of the entries, then the Delete Record Button to remove them. You can also click the Edit Symbol (the pencil ) to open the entry for editing. Clicking the Taxon Name opens the Taxonomic Editor for that species, which displays the taxonomy as well as a list of all locations where that species has been reported (Figure 26).

Fig. 26: The Taxonomic Editor.

From the Invertebrates Tab, clicking on any species in the invertebrate list, opens the Invert Taxa Editor. This displays taxonomic information about the species, its Springs-Dependent Species Status, and Distribution information.  At the bottom of this form there is a list of every location where that species has been reported. This form can also be accessed from the Management Menu. In the future we will include an elevation range of reported species, as well as functionality to export the records or to display them on a map. This form opens as a new tab in most browsers. Simply close the tab to return to the Survey Form.

Fig. 27: The Vertebrates tab (click to enlarge).

The Vertebrates Tab design is similar to the Invertebrates Tab, although Vertebrate species are displayed by common name. To add a record to the survey, click the Add Vert Record Button. Typing in the species or common name in the Fauna Name Field will open a pull down list for selection. Enter the Quantity, if known. If the number is estimated, leave this field blank and describe it in the Fauna Comments. Enter the Detection Type (call, observation, or sign). If you enter "sign", describe it in the Fauna Comments field (scat tracks, feathers, nest, etc.). Use the Fauna Notes field to add any comments about all vertebrate and invertebrate records, such as the name of the biologist who identified the species. Once Vertebrate data have been entered, you can click one or more of the checkboxes left of the entries, then the Delete Record Button to remove them. You can also click the Edit Symbol (the pencil icon) to open the entry for editing. Clicking the species name opens the Taxonomic Editor for that species and displays the taxonomy as well as a list of all locations where the species has been reported. Note that the total Species Count is calculated (circled).

This tab offers the ability to upload image files related to the survey, including the Sketchmap (See also Figure 37 and Figure 38), a Representative Photograph, and Additional Images, along with Image Notes. These files should be chosen with care, however, as large and/or unnecessary image files will bog down the database, and increase the file size of exported reports. They should be resized to a small a file size (3 MB or less), and saved as .jpg files. The file name must not have any spaces, or it will not upload. Users can access image files to view or edit them by clicking the image. To upload a photograph, click the Add Image Button. A set of blank fields will appear (Figure 32).

Fig. 28: The Images tab (click to enlarge).

Fig. 29: Uploading an Image (click to enlarge).

To upload a photograph, click the Add Image Button. A set of blank fields will appear. Click the Browse button, then browse to the image. Make certain that there are no spaces in the file name, and that it is a reasonable size. Select the image, and click Open. Enter a brief description about the image's subject and orientation in the Image Notes field, such as "View downslope from top of site" or "Source view from below". Select "Representative", "Sketchmap", or "Additional".  Only identify one image as "Representative".  Click the Upload Button.  Once you have imported an image, should you wish to delete it, click the red "X" button.

Upon adding images in this tab, the most recent survey's image and sketchmap will be displayed on the Description tab (Figure 14 on page 16).

Should you upload an image, and it appears upside-down or sideways, it was captured that way. Some imaging software, such as Photoshop, will correct for this, so you won't realize that the orientation is incorrect until you upload it. Windows Media Player will not do this; it is a good program to scan through all of your images and adjust the orientation quickly in batches.

Fig. 30: Springs Ecosystem Assessment Protocol entry form (SEAP),

The Springs Ecosystem Assessment Protocol (SEAP) involves six categories and 42 subcategories of data, with scores for the site’s condition and risk. Scores range from 0 to 6, with the option of entering 9 in cases when a score cannot be determined. If a subcategory score is not known, but is expected to be determined, it should be left blank. Each dropdown list contains a definition of each code value to help guide your choice.  This information is also available on printed field sheets. The first five categories are designed to be scored during the Level II site visit. Questions in the Administrative Context category are best answered by a representative of the land management agency who is familiar with the site, including the land owner if it is privately owned. The category scores are automatically calculated.

The field sheet is available on our website: SEAP Field Sheet.

The QAQC tab displays data change history for the survey, and provides fields for quality control comments, the date that data were reviewed, and the login name of the reviewer.

The Admin Tab allows for the deletion of survey information, only available to Administrative Users.


To add or edit survey polygons around the spring location, click the “Add/Edit Survey Polygons” link in the Survey Information window.  These polygons should define any geomorphic Microhabitats around the spring location, and should be designated upon arriving at a spring. These polygon areas form as a result of different physical and geomorphic processes. The team should designate each microhabitat with a capital letter (A, B, C...) as well as a short name that easily distinguishes them. It is helpful to include “source” in the name to designate which microhabitats contain the spring’s sources.

Fig. 31: Adding and editing survey Polygons.

One team member should create a sketchmap of the site using graph paper (Figure 37) or a digital device (Figure 38). Sketchmaps should include the site name and date, scale, a north arrow, photo point, flow direction, GPS and SPF reading points, and water quality and flow measurement locations. Other helpful information includes location of trails, roads, fences, structures, or other modifications, as well as identifying a point of reference for future surveys.

Digital drawings are extremely helpful for particularly large, relatively flat sites, such as depicted below (Figure 32). These may be drawn with digital tablets over topographic maps or aerial photographs, or surveyors can track the site perimeter with a GPS if reception is adequate and access is possible. However, these methods are not appropriate for very small sites, or as those with very steep slopes such as hanging gardens. 

Maps and images such as below (Figure 33) can be extremely helpful for very large springs such as this one where microhabitats covered more than 6300  square meters, and for subsequent surveys, when land surveys may be preferable. However, we have found it is often necessary to create at least rough hand-sketch maps during the first site visit.

Fig. 32: Sample Sketchmap (Click to enlarge).

Fig. 33: Sample Digital Sketchmap (Click to enlarge).

Remember that for the first survey these polygons are initially entered on the Site Polygons Tab (See Spring Site Information, Figure 13), and must then be applied to the Survey.  From the Survey Form, click the Add/Edit Survey Polygons Hyperlink above the row of tabs. When this form opens (Figure 34), from the North Base dropdown select either Magnetic or True to designate how Aspect was measured during the survey. If you enter Magnetic, you must also make sure there is a Declination value so the database can calculate the True North. Make sure you click Save.

Note:  The column for Aspect values (for example, the column “Aspect MN” in Figure 39 below) will not be visible until you select your North Base option and then click Save.

Fig. 34: Editing Polygon Attributes (click to enlarge).

To apply a Site Polygon, click the Add Site Polygon Button. This will open a form with blank fields. From the dropdown list in the Code field, select the Site Polygon that you wish to add. If there are no Polygons listed, return to the Site Information form and add them. Enter the Area in square meters (this must be a numeric value.) From the SurfType dropdown list enter the Surface Type of the polygon, and the Subtype if there is one. Enter Slope Variability, the Aspect, the Slope in degrees, and select the Moisture value. The Water Depth should be measured in cm, and the Wet% as a percent value of the total polygon area that is covered by open water. If any of these values are unknown or are not indicated, leave them blank. Continue through each of the microhabitats that were identified in the survey, clicking Save after each.

To remove an existing site polygon, simply click on the Code letter and click the “Remove Polygon” button on the next page.  You can only delete an existing polygon if all Flora records for that polygon have already been deleted.

The total area, microhabitat count, and geomorphic diversity are automatically calculated as Polygon data are added to the survey. To edit polygon data after they are entered, click the Code (A, B, C, etc), edit the polygon information, and then click Save. To return to the Survey Page, click the Back to Survey Info hyperlink (highlighted in Figure 34).

For each polygon the surveyors should estimate the percent of the polygon surface covered by each grain size represented, with the total equal to 100%, where:

Fig. 35: The Microhabitat Soils tab (click to enlarge).

1 =  clay

2 =  silt

3 =  sand

4 =  pea gravel

5 =  coarse gravel

6 =  cobble and small boulders (0.1to1.0 meter in diameter)

7 =  large boulders (greater than 1 meter in diameter)

8 =  bedrock

Org =  organic soil

Oth =  other(anthropogenic features)

To enter this information, click the Soils Tab. The sum of the Substrate  (1-8) plus Organic and Other substrate values is automatically calculated and should total 100%. Should this not be the case you will be admonished with a red total percent value. Please confer with your surveyors to correct this, but you will be able to continue entering data. This tab also contains fields for the estimated percent cover of Precipitate, Litter and Litter Depth in centimeters, as well as percent cover of Wood (greater than an inch in diameter). Once the data have been entered, you can click on the Code to edit the values.

Fig. 36: Entering Geomorphology data in the Survey (click to enlarge).

On the Geomorphology Tab you can assign a Discharge Sphere and Secondary Sphere, if applicable, to any Polygon. These entries are limited to the microhabitats already applied to a survey. If there is no discharge from a microhabitat, leave it blank. Discharge spheres are limited to spring types as described by Stevens and Springer (2009).  These include cave, exposure, fountain, geyser, gushet, hanging garden, helocrene, hypocrene, limnocrene, rheocrene, hillslope, mound-form, and anthropogenic (those that are so heavily manipulated that they no longer resemble their original form. Keys to these designations are displayed in the dropdown form. They are also fully described, with example photographs and diagrams, in our Spring Types index. Although most springs have only one type of discharge sphere, some complex sites may have two or more.

Fig. 37: The Flora tab.

Typically, collection of vegetation data represents the lion’s share of the field time, as well as the data entry time.  We have developed a streamlined method for efficient and accurate data entry. The Species, Cover Type, and Percent Cover for each polygon are entered on the Flora Tab (Figure 37). 

Flora tab selected in Survey Form showing the Polygon, Species, Cover Code, % Cover, Native Status, and Comments. Any column can be sorted in ascending or descending order. Click the Add Flora Record Button to add a new record; this will open a blank field form (Figure 38).

Fig. 38: Begin typing any part of the Scientific Name or Common Name to bring up a list of species to select from.

Vegetation data may be entered in any order, but it is usually best to enter it in the order it appears on the field sheets. Required fields are the Polygon Code (Poly), the Species, and the cover codes.  Cover Code options include:



GC =  Ground Cover (annual, deciduous grass or herb)

SC =  Shrub Cover (perennial less than 4 meters tall)

MC =  Mid-canopy cover (perennial, between 4 and 10 meters tall)

TC =  Tall canopy cover (perennial, over 10 meters tall)

AQ =  Aquatic cover

BC =  Basal cover

NV =  Non-vascular

Although not required, the system is designed to accept the estimated percent cover of each species, within each strata, and within each microhabitat.  Percent cover of any cover code in any microhabitat should not exceed 100%.

To add a new plant occurrence, click the Add Flora Record Button. This will open a set of fields (Figure 38). Enter the common name or any part of the species name to bring up a select list. Enter the Polygon Code, Cover Code, % Cover, Native Status, and any Comments. Click the Add Flora Record to save the information, or Cancel.

Native Status, Wetland Status,Cover Code Species

Unidentified plant species should be listed generally in the species field, with notations such as “sp.1” or “yellow flower” placed in the Comments  field. It is important to note, however, that the database calculates species counts by concatenating the Species and the Comments fields. Therefore, Carex listed in one polygon with "sp 1" in the Comments field and Carex in a different polygon without that comment will show up as two species. While this is particularly helpful in certain situations (unknown grass with “sp.1” in the details and unknown grass with “sp.2” will be appropriately reflected as two species), it is important to maintain consistency when making multiple entries for the same species. 

Fig. 39: The Flora Taxon lists sites where the species has been reported.

Once data have been entered, you may edit the entries by clicking the Polygon Code. You may also delete entries by clicking the checkbox next to it and then the Delete Record Button. Clicking the Species field will open the Flora Taxa Editor form, (Figure 39) that lists the scientific name, common name, USDA symbol, wetland status, and default codes. The subform below lists each site in the database where that particular species has been reported.

If microhabitat Areas have been entered in the Survey Polygons Tab, the area in square meters of cover (per polygon and per cover type) will also be calculated and displayed when you click the Calculate Cover Totals Button (Figure 45 and Figure 46).  Calculate Cover Totals will also give you the species count, species density, and statistics describing native species, sensitive species and wetland species for each polygon (in columns) and for each cover type (in rows).

Clicking the View Crosstab Query button will open an alphabetized list of all plant species identified at the site, including native status, cover code, and percent cover in each polygon (Figure 47).