My wife and I were discussing the eclipse –her two-and-a-half year old Montessori students had been excited about it!– and wondered if animal behavior was being tracked.
So it was a pleasant surprise when I saw Ruben Gameros’ post today on FB about his participating in the Purdue University ‘sonic effects’ project. Their “huge, continental scale” project was to study how animals will respond to the solar eclipse. Using acoustic sensors (from Alaska to Puerto Rico) they invited citizen scientists to collect data –acoustic behavior of birds, crickets, cicadas, and frogs.
Why record sounds? Purdue researchers are looking at if animals that are typically active during the day stop making sounds during an eclipse. Among other questions:
- Are there patterns for birds, insects, mammals, amphibians, and even fish?
- Are the changes in the circadian cycles different in coniferous forests, temperate deciduous forests, grasslands, and coastal ecosystems?
- Is there a difference in behavior in the total eclipse zone compared to areas that are in the 90%, 80%, 70% and 60% or less zones?
Caltech had a different crowd-sourced project calling for eclipse-related animal behavior. It called for young scientists to make 3 observations during the event, and record it via a special App. It was supported by a teacher webinar, and a web-chat.
I wish students across the country would have been motivated to do more than look for the umbra and penumbra. Or dodge the event, entirely. (One school I know cancelled the viewing even after they ordered glasses.)