Major Advance in the Database
NOTE: The message below was recently sent, in August 2015 to a number of our cooperating individuals and agencies.
The Missouri Speleological Survey is pleased to announce that the MSS and CRF have completed a major piece of work on the Missouri Cave Database. For a long time, the point locations available to us were mostly on state and federal lands; most of the privately-owned caves had Public Land Survey System (PLSS) locations. For many obvious reasons it was important to obtain good, qualified, point locations on all caves in the state, as far as that was possible. This has now been completed.
The process was mostly office work. We compared point locations to Public Land Survey Locations and corrected them as best we good. Many times, corrections were based on corroborative information, such as directions, from the database. I will say that Google Earth and Google Maps were used extensively to help figure out the written directions. Irregular sections and other problems were worked through as best as possible. Point locations have been given a quality number using this system:
2=Known to be at that location by a qualified person
3=Approximately correct, meaning that more than one locational system, perhaps three, were used
4=Unknown or questionable quality, meaning that the location might be correct but we had no backing evidence
5=Known to be in error, like locations in the Mississippi River floodplain.
We now have 6940 point locations for caves or entrances in the state (some caves have multiple, disparate, entrances that need separate entries). There are a handful of cave names/accession numbers that simply have no locations yet have either a report or a map on them. Another 40 or so locations were removed as having no location (other than county) with no other evidence, or they were duplicates of another cave. In other words, the entire state data set has been audited. The bulk of this work was done by me, with help from Ken Grush and a few other data wonks. The dataset is way better now.
This work was accomplished through a grant from US Fish and Wildlife Service (to pay for data time). Other agencies, particularly NPS and USFS gave us the financial support to continue modifying the database structure. Data came from everyone, but primarily the MSS.
There are now five tables in the Missouri Cave Database. The main table contains nearly 7000 records. The maps table now has 4400 records in it, linked to the main. A new monitoring table now has over 2000 records, mostly from NPS and MTNF lands but also some from state parks. The faunal records now include nearly 19500 records – we have been actively adding new records from old sources, such as biological studies done in the early 1960’s plus anecdotal reports from the cave files. The latter is going to be a major source of old data; for years cavers would write about trips to caves and in many, many of them, they mention cave life. We have already added hundreds of such records and I estimate that through proper “mining” we could add several thousand such records. These are highly important as they give us snapshots of cave life years before most agencies began tracking them.
The new point locations are easily imported into ArcGIS; the qualifier number can be used to create point symbols. We will be working with our partners to provide them with the tools that they need to best protect caves and the life within.