Home / News / PSU students work with Snapshot USA 
Khloey Stringer, Taylor Michael, and Austin Abram in front of one of their wildlife cameras while setting them up. The students are working on a project called Snapshot USA, which partners with schools across Kansas and the nation and focuses on mammal patterns during September and October. Image Courtesy of Christine Brodsky

PSU students work with Snapshot USA 

Alyssa Tyler copy editor 

A group of Pittsburg State University students have been working together on a research project called Snapshot USA. The project involves universities from across the nation and by the Smithsonian Museum.  

“This project started in 2019, this is our fourth year. It started with folks at the Smithsonian and some people out at the North Carolina Museum of natural sciences. And multiple people kind of put this together and it’s become this nationwide project. Where folks across all 50 states essentially put out game cameras in a variety of different habitats to monitor what mammals are there between September and October every year. The people who are involved kind of change every year just depending on availability, but this year we are one of three folks in the state of Kansas participating in the program. It’s us, KU, and K-State,” said Christine Brodsky, associate professor of biology.  

This year there are ten camera locations, which are all in Pittsburg on city owned property. 

“The big project goal is to document what mammals are out in these locations at one time. That’s why it’s called Snapshot USA. We’re getting a snapshot of these mammal communities and it’s a massive dataset that anyone can utilize to analyze and question what they want. It’s really rare to have such a large-scale project since it involves so much time and people. But doing this kind of grassroots effort, we were able to get a huge amount of data in a short period of time. Eventually, we publish our data and from then, anyone can log into that journal, download the data, and do their own analyses. Many papers have been published of people doing so,” Brodsky said. 

Last semester there were 4 students in the main group.  

“In 2019, when they were starting to reach out to people who were interested, they found us because I had a student at the time, Caleb Durbin, and he for a class project, he wanted to understand mammals in urban areas. So, he put out some cameras, so he and I put out a poster for the research colloquium, which then gets published on digital commons. And the guys at the Smithsonian literally did a search on google, saying ‘Kansas’ and ‘cameras’ and that popped up on digital commons. So that’s how they found us,” Brodsky said.  

The group checks in every two weeks to check cameras and make sure everything is running correctly, among other things.  

“I think the goal is to give students a hand on experience. All the mammalogy students have to volunteer for the project. So, our team leads, we take them out and show them how to camera trap and how everything gets set up,” said Khloey Stringer, sophomore in ecology and field biology.  

The group goes through thousands of photos identifying each animal in each photo that comes through on the cameras.  

“I’m looking forward to being out in the field. I love being out in the field and I’m excited to lead a group. She’s making It very student run which is very nice,” Stringer said. 

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