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Nature Center Participates in Innovative Nationwide Ecological Survey

June 11, 2021

In September and October of 2019, the University of Mount Union’s Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center participated in a first-of-its-kind camera trapping project known as Snapshot USA. With the cooperation of 150+ collaborators from all 50 states, a nation-wide mammal survey using standardized methods and a common data repository was conducted for the first time.

Utilizing 1509 camera trap sites, several hundreds of thousands of images were catalogued and cameras detected 83 mammal species. On June 8, 2021 the results of Snapshot USA were published in Ecology, a publication of the Ecological Society of America. The published paper can be found at

Snapshot USA was led by scientists from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. The Nature Center’s program manager, Adam Zorn, is listed as a co-author of the data paper as the lead investigator representing the Nature Center. Tens of thousands of images were recorded across 10 different locations on Nature Center properties in Washington and Knox Townships.

The published data paper makes the data available online for anyone to use for research questions such as the evaluation of changes in animal populations over time or informing conservation strategies for threatened and endangered species. In addition to the data paper, several of the lead scientists are already making progress on a few research papers using Snapshot USA data.

The North Carolina Museum’s Dr. Roland Kays developed an interactive data graphic ranking the top sites for select mammal species using Snapshot USA data. When comparing species across the country, the University of Mount Union’s Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center stood out for being in the “Top 10” for the relative abundance of chipmunks (#7); opossums (#6); red fox (#8); and raccoons (#1) across all study sites.

Additionally, the Nature Center’s data set ranked sixth in the relative abundance of all mammal detections for the project. Relative abundance is the number of detections of a species captured on camera each day of the project. Ranking of top sites for select mammal species can be found at

The Nature Center and other Snapshot USA scientists repeated the survey in fall 2020 likely providing insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife distributions and habitat use — resulting data will be available as the Snapshot USA database at eMammal is updated in 2021.

More information and additional data visualization products summarizing SnapShot USA data can be found on eMammal at

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