How does life respond to the dramatic event of a total solar eclipse?
There is some evidence that plant and animal life react to the environmental changes that occur during a total solar eclipse. As the sky darkens and the temperature drops, birds reportedly stop singing, spiders may tear down their webs, and gray squirrels retreat to their dens, among other observed behaviors. Much of these reports, however, are anecdotal or documented with captive animals.
On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cross the continental United States, from coast to coast. The Academy invites citizen scientists like you to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record eclipse-related animal behavior with the iNaturalist app.
Before the eclipse:
- Download the iNaturalist app on the App Store or Google Play
- Practice making observations under any active project. (Learn how to get started on iNaturalist)
- Decide where you will be viewing the eclipse and know when the eclipse will be at maximum at your location. (Use this map to help determine that time)
Day of the eclipse (Aug 21):
- Once you arrive at your site, scout your area for animals and plants
- Open iNaturalist and join the "Life Responds" project
- Make 3 observations in the "Life Responds" project:
- 1st: 30 minutes before totality (or maximum coverage) make an observation in iNaturalist
- 2nd: 5 minutes of totality (or maximum coverage) make a second observation in iNaturalist
- 3rd: 30 minutes after totality (or maximum coverage) make a third and final observation in iNaturalist
Will you be within the area of totality and already have your phone (or camera) out snapping pictures? Check out the Eclipse Megamovie 2017 project from Google and UC Berkley that will compile photographs taken of the eclipse from across the country to see how you can contribute.
Are you involved in behavioral ecology? Interested in how certain life forms react to eclipses? Could widespread records of behavior changes inform your research? We are looking for both scientific and engagement partners.
For questions or more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org