- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - Some animals wearing GPS equipment for existing research may help the University of Nebraska at Kearney shine a light on the effects of a solar eclipse.

Researchers Dustin Ranglack and Nate Bickford are collecting information about six red-tail hawks wearing GPS devices for a long-term university research project, the Kearney Hub reported.

The data is being collected this week ahead of Monday’s eclipse and during the week after the eclipse.

One question the researchers hope to answer is whether some animals can sense the approaching alignment of the Earth, moon and sun hours before the eclipse is visible. Other questions include whether nocturnal hunters such as owls will wake up in the middle of the day, or if other birds will go to their roosts when conditions simulate dusk and return to daytime routines after the eclipse.

“And once you have an answer to a question, it leads to four others,” Ranglack said.

Ranglack said a benefit of using GPS equipment over observation research is that the animals aren’t at risk of being disturbed.

“So, if we see changes, we are more able to determine it’s because of the eclipse,” he said.

Ranglack said the challenge behind the research is having so many animals and so much data that must be properly labeled and put into computer models before he and Bickford can begin looking for eclipse effects.

He said researchers will publish the project’s findings even if they can’t link animal behaviors to the eclipse.

Bickford said the project will provide more information about how eclipses affect wildlife for the next generation since not much is known about it.


Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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