Snapshot USA: First-Ever Nationwide Mammal Survey Published
by Jon Pishney, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
[RALEIGH, N.C.] – How are the squirrels doing this year? The bears? The armadillos? How would you know? A new paper published June 8 sets up the framework for answering these questions across the United States by releasing the data from the first national mammal survey made up of 1,509 motion-activated camera traps from 110 sites located across all 50 states.
Unlike birds, which have multiple large-scale monitoring programs, there has been no standard way to monitor mammal populations at a national scale. To address this challenge, scientists from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute recently collaborated with more than 150 scientists on the first-ever nationwide wildlife survey, called Snapshot USA. “Our goal was to provide a space for researchers from all 50 states to contribute a subset of their data to a broader initiative to maximize our coverage of the country and better understand drivers of mammal distributions to best inform conservation as rapidly as possible,” said the Museum’s Curator of Mammalogy Michael Cove, lead author of the new paper.
For two months in fall 2019 researchers collected more than 166,000 images of 83 different mammal species. White-tailed deer were the most common species detected (34,000+ times at 1,033 sites), followed by eastern gray squirrels and raccoons. Pygmy rabbits, mountain beavers, hog-nosed skunks and marsh rabbits were among the least common mammals photographed. Yet, the overall detection winner was the coyote, which was detected in all 49 continental states — they have not made it to Hawaii yet. All the data are archived at the Smithsonian Institution’s eMammal database and published as part of the new paper.
Read the Ecology paper: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecy.3353