Madrean Archipelago Database
The MABA project, which began in 2009, has two mains areas: Biological inventories through scientific expeditions and collections, and a publicly available database at Madrean.org. The MABA database has become a primary source for biological records as well as species images for the Sky Islands. With this public database, we hope to document the distributions of all plants and animals in the Madrean Archipelago for use in conservation, research, and education.
The MABA database was created to make observations and images publicly available. Information is gleaned from historical sources, including museum and herbarium collections, scientific publications, and field notes.
The database uses the SYMBIOTA software written by Edward Gilbert for the Southwest Environmental Information Network (SEINet) online database of herbarium specimens. It is organized into two parts: flora and fauna. MABA FLORA is directly linked to SEINet, which has records of nearly two million herbarium plant specimens. MABA FAUNA contains animal species records. Most of the data in this database comes from observations made by experts, mostly collected with photographs, rather than specimen collections. Only those observations identified to species or close to a species by knowledgeable biologists are included. Localities for each observation are as complete as possible, and include geographic coordinates.
The MABA database is versatile and easy to use. Records can be searched for by species or family names, geographic areas, collectors, or all of them together. The observations with full information or species lists can be downloaded. Records can also be displayed on Google Maps and Google Earth, an invaluable tool for understanding distributions and biogeographic patterns.
Expedition volunteers add high-resolution images to many of observations. All images also go into the FAUNA and FLORA Image Libraries. MABA photographers David Bygott, Sue Carnahan, Jillian Cowles, Douglas Danforth, Erik F. Enderson, Charles Hedgcock, Sky Jacobs, Stephen L. Minter, James C. Rorabaugh, and Tom and Wayne Van Devender have contributed nearly 8,000 images since 2009.
Half a Million Records, and Growing
The MABA database accumulates an average of 6,000 new records every month, and 30% of these observations come from our MABA science expeditions. In the mountain ranges we have visited, nearly 88% of the species records for those ranges in the database come directly from our trips. Five years after it was launched in 2009, the MABA database contained nearly half a million flora and fauna observations in the region, and continues to grow.
The MABA database is the best source of data for the Madrean Archipelago and the state of Sonora, and is a powerful tool for conservation. Workshops at universities and in conferences train biologists and conservationists to use the database. Currently, it serves as the database for the Ajos-Bavispe Reserva Forestal Nacional y Refugio de Fauna Silvestre (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, CONANP), Rancho El Aribabi private reserve and the proposed Área Natural Protegida Ciénega de Saracachi (Comisión de Ecología y Desarrollo Sustentable del Estado de Sonora, CEDES), Cuenca los Ojos Foundation properties, and Rancho Los Fresnos and the Northern Jaguar Reserve (NATURALIA).