Pitt biology students collecting data for Smithsonian project
PITTSBURG, Kan. – Students in the Pittsburg State University Biology Department have again been asked to collect data at sites throughout the Pittsburg area for a national project being conducted by the Smithsonian Institution – a project that is giving them valuable field skills.
The goal? To paint a picture of the diversity of mammal life across the U.S.
Taylor Michael, Khloey Stringer, and Austin Abram, students of associate professor Christine Brodsky, deployed Snapshot USA cameras in natural areas for the national mammal survey and will monitor them through October.
It is the fourth year Brodsky and a group of students have participated representing the state of Kansas; each year, a different student team has collected data.
“Researchers are doing this in all 50 states,” she said. “Ultimately it will inform national conservation and management strategies.”
In the first year, the PSU team captured more than 8,000 images of 16 mammal species: deer, raccoon, gray and fox squirrel, opossum, eastern cottontail rabbit, mouse species, rat species, armadillo, coyote, groundhog, domestic cats and dogs, striped skunk, beaver, and a bobcat.
Those photos became part of the national wildlife database, Wildlife Insights, available to the public at www.wildlifeinsights.org
In the years since, the PSU team has continued to add to that database as well as the nation’s knowledgebase, Brodsky said.
“I love being able to have these kinds of opportunities as a student, because they give me very important skills for field jobs,” said Michael, a senior in field biology from McCune. “I’ve had numerous chances to gain experience like this at Pittsburg State, which I am extremely grateful for.”
Stringer, a sophomore in field biology from Parsons, agrees.
“Along with a lot of other opportunities that the field biology program offers, I love how it gives me real world experience before I have even received my degree,” said Stringer, who hopes to one day conduct research globally. “Thankfully, with all the amazing staff in this department, our dreams of being field biologists are already being achieved in the classroom.”
Caleb Durbin, one of the first students to work on the project the first year PSU was involved, credits it as helping him wind up where he is today: as a graduate student working on his thesis at Kansas State University, and as the co-author of two Snapshot USA publications.
“My experience with the cameras and leading a crew of students to help with the project at Pitt State has been invaluable to me,” he said. “I was taught leadership skills and how to stay motivated and encouraged through Dr. Brodsky and the other professors at Pitt State, which lead me to where I am today.”
Learn more about PSU’s Biology program.