A University of Wyoming doctoral student studied the effects of the total eclipse on big sagebrush.
Daniel Beverly, a UW botany and hydrology doctoral student, found that the eclipse reduced big sagebrush’s photosynthesis and transpiration and interrupted the plants’ circadian rhythm, according to a June 20 UW news release.
“’The reduced temperature and lack of sunshine shocked the circadian clock of big sagebrush, triggering a response far beyond what happens when clouds block sunlight,’” Beverly said in the release.
“During the short duration of near darkness, they found significant reductions in transpiration — evaporation of water from sagebrush leaves — as well as photosynthesis, the transformation of light energy into chemical energy that converts carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen,” UW continued.
Beverly and fellow researchers also found that there was a 14% reduction in carbon conversion across big sagebrush ecosystems in the West on the day of the eclipse, UW said.
“’Despite its relatively short duration, the eclipse caused a significant reduction in estimated daily carbon uptake for Aug. 21, 2017, in big sagebrush ecosystems,’ Beverly says.
Beverly’s study — which involved fellow UW scientists in the Department of Botany, the Program in Ecology and the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center — offers some of the most detailed information about individual plant response and potential broad ecosystem impacts ever reported.”