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Word of the Week: Crepuscular
July 31, 2020 by Julia Miller-Black

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Crepuscular [KRA-puss-KEW-ler] (adjective): describing events or beings that occur or are active during twilight hours.

Do you consider yourself an early bird, a night owl, or something in between? If you consider yourself an early bird you might be called diurnal (active during the day). All of you night owls out there could be called nocturnal (active at night). But what about those hours in between daylight and darkness? Beings that are active during these twilight hours are called crepuscular!

Crepuscular animals are active at dawn and dusk, just as most of us human animals are pressing snooze on our alarm clocks or winding down for the night. Crepuscular animals can be further divided into two subgroups. Matutinal animals are those which are active at dawn, such as some species of honey bee. And vespertine animals are those which are active at dusk, such as flies, moths, and some bats and owls. Plants can be crepuscular as well! Morning glory flowers are matutinal, opening in the early morning, while evening primrose flowers are vespertine, opening at dusk.

How could an animal or plant benefit from being crepuscular? Some scientists think that it could be to do with the amount of light. The dim light of dawn and dusk can provide cover for both predator and prey animals. Another idea has to do with food availability and competition. Since most animals hunt during the day or night, twilight hours are less crowded, allowing animals to avoid competition with similar species.

Some crepuscular animals of High Park include: rabbits, deer, opossum, and skunks.

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