Researchers look into how animals will react during the solar eclipse

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COLUMBIA - Researchers are getting ready for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Not only will they be watching the sky, but they will also be watching what's on the ground, including insects, plants and animals. 

Director of Field Operations Tim Reinbott said researchers at South Farm Research Center, including himself, are going to study how the solar eclipse affects plants that typically close up during the evening. Reinbott also said they are going to have cameras recording how chickens, fish and horses react during the eclipse. 

"We are also wondering what happens to insects and birds," Reinbott said. "We are going to have audio recorders near and in wooded areas to measure the changes in sounds."

Reinbott said in total they will have 11 cameras set up. 

"We're gonna have several cameras on plants, different types of plants, and what they're doing," Reinbott said. "We're gonna have the cameras on the chickens and the horses. We're also gonna have them on a pond. What happens during the solar eclipse on that pond if we can see the action going on."

Reinbott said they are also going to be studying the light. 

"We're also going to measure what happens to the light intensity as well as the light quality, so we can compare that to sundown to see how the eclipse and sundown correlate with one another."

He said they only have one shot to do this right. 

"Well this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we only have one shot at this," Reinbott said. "So, we're trying to cover all of our basis within the sciences to make sure we are going to backup what we see, and that's why we're doing this as a scientific experiment so that it can be replicated in other eclipses, you know, seven years from now." 

He said a big challenge is they don't know what to expect. 
"And that's OK too because if the plants don't respond, if the animals don't respond that's new information also," Reinbott said.
A PHD graduate student at MU will be studying how bats react during the solar eclipse. 
"We will be setting out Anabat recorders, which are audio recording devices which record at the frequency that bats emit their echolocation calls. So it captures those, we can then download that a computer, put it up on a log graph and look at which species are making calls," Jordan Shroyer said.

Shroyer said a few researchers will also go out to different locations and do visual inspections to see if any bats will fly around during the eclipse. But he said the challenge is not getting distracted by the eclipse itself. 

"This is a once in a lifetime event," Shroyer said. "I know I'm going to be watching the eclipse. It's going to be making sure that we enjoy the eclipse while also taking the time to make sure we're participating in our study, which we should be able to do that just fine."

Shroyer said Bats actually have eyesight that's pretty equivalent to ours. 

"So, interesting enough people used to say, 'blind as a bat,' in fact people still say that, they actually have eyesight that's pretty equivalent to ours, but they also have echolocation on top of it, which allows them to maneuver pretty well," Shroyer said. 

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