Topic outline

  • Introduction

    Welcome to Cave and Karst Resources.

    The Classification and Mapping of Cave and Karst Resources page and the Cave and Karst Resources Gallery within the AppLCC Conservation Planning Atlas (CPA) serve as clearinghouses for Appalachian karst landscape and cave-limited species knowledge and data and provides users with tools that are needed to make informed resource management decisions. Researchers for the Appalachian LCC-funded Classification and Georeferencing Cave/Karst Resources across the Appalachian LCC project have been gathering and analyzing data on caves and karst region-wide. This work has produced a series of deliverables, including narratives, data tables, geospatial information layers, and a variety of maps. The maps and files provide a comprehensive overview of data availability for examining relationships between environmental factors and biological diversity and distribution within karst areas of the Appalachian LCC.

    Cave Karst course image

    Course Registration

    The course contents are visible without logging in. However, you will need to register here on the Landscape Partnership Learning Network in order to:

    • Receive your Certificate of Completion
    • Create and update your Profile
    • Access your Dashboard

    Certificate of Completion

    After completing the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. Simply click the course name next to the certificate icon. You must be logged in to access the certificate.

    Course Description

    This course will explain the science behind the development of the information resources, demonstrate to users how to access the data, provide examples of how this information can be used to make management decisions, and guide users through an interactive exercise using the data in a case study activity.

    This course consists of an introduction and 6 additional modules. Participants should complete the modules in sequential order. If, after reviewing the prerequisites for a module, a participant feels that they already have an understanding of the information, they can proceed to the next module. For example, if you already are familiar with the Cave and Karst Resources project but have not yet explored the information resources, you can skip to Module 2.

    In Modules 2-4, the focus is to provide an understanding of how to use the information resources and to answer questions related to conservation management. Participants will not perform additional analysis; rather they will focus on the thought process behind the analysis.

    Course Objectives

    Upon completion of this course, users will be able to:

    • Participants will develop an understanding of the Cave and Karst Resources within the Appalachian geography.
    • Users will be able to utilize information resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal as well as data in the Conservation Planning Atlas.
    • Users will be able to apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the information resources as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility.
    • Facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the information resources to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

    Course Requirements

    Participants will complete readings, view instructional videos, complete a review quiz at the end of the course, and provide feedback regarding the course.

    Technical Requirements

    You will need to use Adobe Reader to view course materials and the ability to stream videos with sound.

    • Course Prerequisites

      Decorative icon for Course Prerequisites

      There are no prerequisites to take this course. However, within the course, participants should complete the modules in order as they build upon information in the previous modules.

      Prerequisites are covered at the beginning of each module.

      • Module 1: The Science Behind Cave and Karst Resources

        Prerequisite

        Before completing this module, you should review the information in the Course Introduction. No experience with the Cave and Karst Resources research project is necessary.

        Objective

        The objective of this module is to provide an explanation of the work behind assessing and inventorying Cave and Karst Resources throughout the Appalachians.

        Overview

        Researchers from an array of organizations and institutions were funded by the Appalachian LCC to gather and analyze data on caves and karst for the entire Appalachian region. The project first summarized pre-existing efforts to collect and present karst resource information and developed an appropriate classification system for karst habitats within Appalachia. From this foundational work, researchers next produced a series of deliverables, including data tables, geospatial information layers, and maps.

        The maps and other products provide a comprehensive overview of available data for examining relationships between environmental factors and biological diversity and distribution within karst areas of the Appalachian LCC.

        A visual survey compiles all this information and guides users to what this project has accomplished, as well as new questions and results that would interest end-users. This vital spatial information on the physical and biological resources of cave and karst systems – compiled by researchers at American University, U.S. Geological Survey, University of the South, University of Illinois, and University of Florida - is now being incorporated into landscape conservation planning for the region.

        Cave-limited species display patchy and restricted distributions, but are challenging to study in-situ because of the difficulty of sampling. It is often unclear whether the observed distribution is a sampling artifact or a true restriction in range. Further, the drivers of the distribution could be local environmental conditions, such as cave humidity, or they could be associated with surface features that are surrogates for cave conditions.

        If surface features can be used to predict the distribution of important cave taxa, then conservation management goals can be more easily obtained. These GIS data represent the input and results of a spatial statistical model used to examine the hypothesis that the presence of major faunal groups of cave obligate species could be predicted based on features of the Earth surface.

        Georeferenced records of cave obligate amphipods, crayfish, fish, isopods, beetles, millipedes, pseudoscorpions, spiders, and springtails within the area of Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) in the eastern United States (Illinois to Virginia, and New York to Alabama) were assigned to 20 x 20 km grid cells.

        Habitat suitability for these faunal groups was modeled using logistic regression with twenty predictor variables within each grid cell, such as percent karst, soil features, temperature, precipitation, and elevation. The models successfully predicted the presence of a group greater than 65 percent of the time (mean=88 percent) for the presence of single grid cell endemics, and for all faunal groups except pseudoscorpions.

        The most common predictor variables were latitude, percent karst, and the standard deviation of the Topographic Position Index (TPI), a measure of landscape rugosity within each grid cell. The overall success of these models points to a number of important connections between the surface and cave environments, and some of these, especially soil features and topographic variability, suggest new research directions. These models should prove to be useful tools in predicting the presence of species in understudied areas.

        The data within the gallery provides information and a summary of the cave/karst resources within the Appalachian LCC region.


      • Module 2: How to Access Cave and Karst Resources Information

        Prerequisite

        You should complete Module 1 before proceeding to this module.

        Objective

        The objective of this exercise is to familiarize you with the data and resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal and Conservation Planning Atlas to assist each participant in utilizing the tool for a set of user-defined parameters

        If you are not familiar with this project, the information is covered in Module 1 of this course. You should complete Module 1 before proceeding to Module 2 if you are unfamiliar with the project.

        Overview

        The Cave and Karst Resources site within the Appalachian LCC Web Portal serves as a clearinghouse for Appalachian Cave and Karst Resources knowledge and data, providing users with the tools they need to make informed resource management decisions to protect these unique species and their habitats.

        Within this module, you will watch two videos:

        • The first video presentation details the research and decision support tools created from this Appalachian LCC funded project and describes how the research team collected data and mapped the distribution of cave fauna throughout the Appalachians.
        • The second video presentation provides a detailed overview of how to use the Cave and Karst Resources and the data layers currently available.

        After watching the videos, you should be familiar with the data and resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal and Conservation Planning Atlas. You should also have a firm understanding of how and why the study was conducted and its possible applications in conservation planning.


      • Module 3: Case Study Examples

        Prerequisite

        You should complete Modules 1 and 2 before proceeding to this module. You should be familiar with the Cave and Karst Resources background information available on the Appalachian LCC portal and the Cave and Karst Resources gallery in the Conservation Planning Atlas.

        Objective

        The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the CPA data visualization tool as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources within the organization’s area of responsibility.

        Overview

        Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how Conservation Planning Atlas output can be used to aid in decisions related to conservation management. The case study scenarios provided are examples of how output from CPA can be used and integrated with other data sources to refine priorities and strategically plan for conservation management.

        Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying the CPA output to their own data in different geographic areas.


      • Module 4: Case Study Activity

        Prerequisite

        You should complete Modules 1, 2, and 3 before proceeding to this module. You should be familiar with the Cave and Karst Resources background information and the Cave and Karst Resources gallery in the Conservation Planning Atlas.

        Objective

        The objective of this module is familiarize you with the Conservation Planning Atlas and utilization of the Cave and Karst Resources data within the ArcGIS platform by completing a case study example.

        Overview

        Now that you have watched the instructional videos, we are going to walk through a hands-on activity using the CPA. In this activity we will access the CPA web application and explore the different features and data that are available

        There are two levels for this activity.

        The first level is called the Manager Level. This level will focus on using the information contained within the web application only. The activity will cover the different data layers that are available and features of the web application. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level.

        The second level, Technical Level, will cover the same material as the Manager Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.

        To begin the activity, select the appropriate case study document.


      • Assessment Quiz

        This quiz is intended to assess your comprehension of the material covered in Modules 1 – 5 of this course.

        You will need a score of 70% to pass.

        There are a total of 10 questions. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be able to review your answers before submitting them. After you submit your answers, your results will be displayed.

        You may take the test as many times as necessary to receive the minimum score required. 

      • Certificate of Completion

        Course certificate imageOnce you have completed the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. The Certificate will display the name you used to create your account.

        You must be logged in to access the certificate.