Science

Nebraska ecologist wants to observe animals during eclipse

Posted August 3

— An ecologist in Nebraska is encouraging people to observe the behaviors of animals during the rare total eclipse.

The moon's shadow will darken Grand Island for nearly three minutes at about 1 p.m. on Aug. 21 as the Great American Total Solar Eclipse makes its way through town, the Grand Island Independent reported .

Nebraska Game and Parks ecologist Rick Schneider said he doesn't know of any specific studies that observe how a total eclipse impacts an animal's circadian rhythm.

"But it might, but just briefly," he said. "It would be like if you would stay up until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. one night, then the next day you're a bit drowsy or whatever. That is because the sun and the daily cycle kicks in the next day and you're back on your regular cycle."

He said the eclipse is a good opportunity to observe wildlife and pets to see if the loss of sun at midday has any effect on their behavior.

"Even without an eclipse, you have days when it gets stormy and really dark during the day," Schneider said. "It doesn't get pitch black, but it is dark like it is often at dusk. So they (animals) are used to it getting darker or lighter during the day. It would be an interesting thing to get some people together to go and observe something."

He said the Game and Parks department has many state wildlife management and recreation areas along the eclipse path where people can go and observe the eclipse and the animals' reactions.

"Maybe it will get them (people) to look at wildlife some more," Schneider said. "There's a lot here in Nebraska that is interesting."

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