Will the solar eclipse affect animals, plants?

On April 8, many will be in the path of the solar eclipse that is expected to happen. Humans use special glasses to be able to it but many wonder how it may affect animals or plants.

On April 8, many will be in the path of the solar eclipse that is expected to happen. Humans use special glasses to be able to it but many wonder how it may affect animals or plants.

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Solar eclipse events affecting animals and plants are not fully understood, according to NASA but there have been reports that animals do behave differently.

For Monday’s eclipse, the NASA-funded Eclipse Soundscapes Project will be collecting “the sights and sounds of a total solar eclipse with help from interested members of the public to better understand how an eclipse affects different ecosystems,” NASA said.

“Eclipses are often thought of as a visual event – something that you see,” said Kelsey Perrett, the project’s Communications Coordinator. “We want to show that eclipses can be studied in a multi-sensory manner, through sound and feeling and other forms of observation.”

Angela Speck, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio said, according to ABC News, that plants and animals will start reacting reading up to the solar eclipse.

“Once it gets to about 75%, 80% eclipsed, there’s enough sunlight missing that animals will start to react,” she said.

Leading up to the eclipse, animals like birds will flock and some farm animals will go to their barn, ABC News reported. When the solar eclipse hits, the animal behavior will change yet again.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said solar eclipses can affect animals and wildlife. With the change in sunlight, some animals may shift their behavior or go into their nighttime routines earlier. It’s different for almost every animal.

Daniel Beverly, a plant ecophysiologist at Indiana University, studied sagebrush in Wyoming during the 2017 eclipse to see how it reacted. The last time that state saw a solar eclipse was in 1918, according to The Washington Post.

“These plants are 60 to 100 years old, and they’ve never seen this midday darkness,” Beverly said, according to the Post. It was noted that scientists saw photosynthesis plummet during the eclipse and took hours to recover. It was like they were shocked. “It is pretty awesome and life-changing,” Beverly said. “Just the spectacle of it. I don’t know what it does to the human brain.”

“At any given point on Earth, a total eclipse occurs once every 375 years. So it’s not like you’re learning something now you can use again in the future, and that’s certainly true for animals,” said Adam Hartstone-Rose, a professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University, according to the Post. “But it’s a unifying event. All of us have this experience together,” he said. He also added that during the April eclipse, “we’re all going to be communing with animals and thinking about how they experience it.”

The solar eclipse will take place in 15 U.S. states on April 8. Around 31 million people will be able to see it.

The totality, or the moment the sun is blocked out by the moon, will first reach Del Rio, Texas, at 1:27 p.m. CDT and then trace a line across the state and northeast across the country. Totality will last from a few seconds to about 4.5 minutes depending on where you are along the path.

The total eclipse will begin in Texas and travel into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The eclipse will also be seen in some areas of Tennessee and Michigan.

Eclipse map
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