Friday, May 24, 2024
AnimalsBirdsInsectsLocal Gardener

Exploring the Social Buzz: How the Solar Eclipse Impacts Flora and Fauna

As millions of people gaze at the sky on April 8th to watch the total solar eclipse, scientists are busy studying how it affects plants and animals.

Even though the eclipse lasts only a short time for those in the path of totality, it has a big impact on the world around us.  As the moon’s shadow sweeps across the landscape, temperatures can plummet dramatically, dropping by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in regions with lower humidity.

According to reports by ABC News, the dimming of light leading up to totality triggers reactions in both flora and fauna. Around the 75-80% mark of eclipse coverage, plants and animals begin to respond to the diminishing sunlight. 

Big sagebrush, for example, have been observed to reduce their photosynthetic activity to levels akin to darkness during the eclipse.

Intriguingly, a study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia during the 2017 eclipse found that some plants closed up during totality and others followed the sun’s path. 

Animals also react strangely.

Observations from the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina during a previous eclipse found that approximately 75% of species exhibited nighttime behaviors, with many displaying signs of anxiety.

Birds flock and farm animals head back to their shelters, thinking it’s bedtime. Bees cease their buzzing and return to their hives, getting confused when the sun comes back.

Nocturnal insects, such as crickets, begin their evening chorus, while spiders engage in web maintenance, anticipating nocturnal activity.

The eclipse’s influence even extends to unlikely candidates like the Galapagos tortoise, observed displaying mating behavior during the 2017 event.

Scientists are excited about the upcoming eclipse because it gives them a chance to learn more. Zoos along the eclipse’s path will help researchers understand animal behavior better.

With new technology, scientists hope to learn even more about how eclipses affect our world. As our knowledge grows, we’ll understand better how these amazing events impact life on Earth.

(Edited by Caroline Fu)

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