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Data from: Aeroecology of a solar eclipse

Cite this dataset

Nilsson, Cecilia et al. (2018). Data from: Aeroecology of a solar eclipse [Dataset]. Dryad.


Light cues elicit strong responses from nearly all forms of life, perhaps most notably as circadian rhythms entrained by periods of daylight and darkness. Atypical periods of darkness, like solar eclipses, provide rare opportunities to study biological responses to light cues. By using a continental scale radar network, we investigated responses of flying animals to the total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017. We quantified the number of biological targets in the atmosphere at 143 weather radar stations across the continental United States to investigate whether the decrease in light and temperature at an atypical time would initiate a response like that observed at sunset, when activity in the atmosphere usually increases. Overall, biological activity decreased in the period leading to totality, followed by a short low-altitude spike of biological activity during totality in some radars. This pattern suggests that cues associated with the eclipse were insufficient to initiate nocturnal activity comparable to that occurring at sunset but sufficient to suppress diurnal activity.

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United States of America