Electromagnetic Radiation: what are the impacts on wildlife (animals and plants)? (open call)  back to the forum

do you know of any assessment, report or study on the impact of EMR on invertebrates, vertebrates or plants?

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 08.02.2017



Following EKLIPSE first call for requests closed on September, 30, 2016, the following request was selected as a potential foresight topic to identify research priorities: What are the impacts of artificial electromagnetic radiation on wildlife? What are the evidence gaps that are the highest priority to address? What policy solutions should be considered?


This request was submitted by Buglife, a UK based charity devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. 

Context: In physics, electromagnetic radiation (EM radiation or EMR) refers to the waves (or their quanta, photons) of the electromagnetic field, propagating (radiating) through space carrying electromagnetic radiant energy. It includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, (visible) light, ultraviolet, X-, and gamma radiation. 

Science on the impact of electromagnetic radiation on wildlife is currently scarce and not always reliable. More studies have looked at potential impacts on human health but even there no comprehensive assessment is available. Currently, New technologies have had a tremendous impact on the increase of EMR in our environment both in terms of range of frequencies and volume of transmissions. It seems critical to start exploring what effects these artificial EMR might have on the biological components of the Environment. Ensuring that important ecosystem services such as pollination and pest control are not harmed by EMR and also that we are not causing biodiversity decline or reducing the amenity value of the countryside should now be investigated by science to better inform policy. Better understanding of the impacts on wildlife can also provide insights in the potential effect on human health and even support the development of reliable indicators of risk conditions. 


EKLIPSE is inviting scientists, policy makers, practitioners and other societal actors to share their knowledge on this specific selected request to explore available resources and evaluate if the request requires a structured knowledge gap analysis and consultation on research priorities. 
A literature screening exercise was done prior to the selection of the request and resulted in a compilation of research papers and reports related to the topic. The compilation can be found below in the attached pdf.
We would welcome the following types of information:
  • Published articles on studies related to measuring potential impact of electromagnetic radiation on invertebrates or vertebrates, , including studies demonstrating no impacts.
  • Grey literature / unpublished report compiling results of scientific studies looking at impacts of electromagnetic radiation on any group of invertebrate or any group of vertebrate, including studies demonstrating no impacts.
  • Any existing studies looking at the role of invertebrates or vertebrates as indicators for assessing potential electromagnetic radiation on human health
  • Existing knowledge synthesis of impact of electromagnetic radiation on human health


Please submit references and comments by the 18th of April 2017


Last edited: 23.03.2017 11:28 (GMT) - by Estelle BALIAN

Member: Geert de Snoo

Date: 26.03.2017 08:54 (GMT)

Cucurachi, S., W.L.M. Tamis, M.G. Vijver, W.J.G.M. Peijnenburg, J.F.B. Bolte & G.R. de Snoo, 2013. A review of the ecological effects of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). Environment International 51: 116-140.

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 27.03.2017 07:17 (GMT)

Dear Geert,
Thanks a lot, this is indeed a very useful review. Do you think that more field studies have been conducted since then?

Member: Thomas Tscheulin

Date: 27.03.2017 07:47 (GMT)

Dear Colleagues,

Please find below a paper on how electromagnetic radiation of mobile telecommunication antennas affects the abundance and composition of wild pollinators:

Lázaro, A., A. Chroni, T. Tscheulin, J. Devalez, C. Matsoukas, and T. Petanidou. 2016. Electromagnetic radiation of mobile telecommunication antennas affects the abundance and composition of wild pollinators. Journal of Insect Conservation 20:315-324.


We show that all pollinator groups except butterflies were affected by EMR in our study on two Greek islands (Lesvos and Limnos). Beetle, wasp, and hoverfly abundance decreased with EMR, whereas the abundance of underground-nesting wild bees and bee flies unexpectedly increased with EMR. The effect of EMR on the abundance of remaining flies differed between islands. With respect to species richness, EMR only tended to have a negative effect on hoverflies in Limnos. As EMR affected the abundance of several insect guilds negatively, and changed the composition of wild pollinators in natural habitats, it might also have additional ecological and economic impacts on the maintenance of wild plant diversity, crop production and human welfare.

Best regards,

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 27.03.2017 08:44 (GMT)

Thanks a lot Thomas, very interesting study. Impact on pollinators could be a major policy concern. If anyone has other references to add on this topic, it would be great!

Member: Niels Boehling

Date: 27.03.2017 21:29 (GMT)

I like to draw attention to a most recent paper on tree damages by EMR:
Waldmann-Selsam C, Balmori-de la Puente A, Breunig H, Balmori A 2016: Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations.

Last edited: 27.03.2017 22:04 (GMT) - by Niels Boehling

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 28.03.2017 08:19 (GMT)

Dear Niels, quite an important study as not much has been done on impact on plants. I was very interested to see that electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone masts is harmful for trees. Thanks for sharing!

Member: Niels Boehling

Date: 28.03.2017 15:58 (GMT)

Please see also Halgamuge 2016: Review: Weak radiofrequency radiation exposure from mobile phone radiation on plants

Member: Alain VIAN

Date: 29.03.2017 06:13 (GMT)

Please find below links to some of my works on the subject :

"Electromagnetic fields (900 MHz) evoke consistent molecular responses in tomato plants"

"Intercellular communication in plants: evidence for two rapidly transmitted systemic signals generated in response to electromagnetic field stimulation in tomato"

"High frequency (900 MHz) low amplitude (5 V m−1) electromagnetic field: a genuine environmental stimulus that affects transcription, translation, calcium and energy charge in tomato."

"Plant Responses to High Frequency Electromagnetic Fields"

"Low-amplitude, high-frequency electromagnetic field exposure causes delayed and reduced growth in Rosa hybrida"

Last edited: 30.03.2017 08:43 (GMT) - by Estelle BALIAN

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 30.03.2017 08:42 (GMT)

Thanks a lot Alain, I hope you do not mind that I included the titles above your links so it can also trigger some more suggestions/comments.

Member: Pascal Malkemper

Date: 03.04.2017 03:56 (GMT)

RF-effects on wood mouse behaviour:

Weak EMF effects on melatonin-levels in calves:

Review including a section dedicated to the effects of anthropogenic electromagnetic "noise" on mammals:

Last edited: 03.04.2017 04:00 (GMT) - by Pascal Malkemper

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 03.04.2017 08:57 (GMT)

Thanks a lot for submitting these papers and the review.

Member: Rola Masri

Date: 04.04.2017 20:03 (GMT)

BEES, BIRDS AND MANKIND - Destroying Nature by ‘Electrosmog’ by Ulrich Warnke

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 06.04.2017 12:50 (GMT)

Dear Rola
Thanks a lot for sharing.

Member: Lise Goudeseune

Date: 13.04.2017 14:09 (GMT)

An interesting source has been submitted by Matt Shardlow from Buglife.
It concerns a significant and growing source of electromagnetic radiation pollution with clear potential policy ramifications:
Electrofishing - http://www.nsrac.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Paper-7.2-Electrotrawling-ILVO-for-info.pdf

Last edited: 13.04.2017 14:09 (GMT) - by Lise Goudeseune

Member: Reinhard Klenke

Date: 18.04.2017 09:02 (GMT)

Some studies related to this topic were made at University of Oldenburg:

2016: Hore P.J., Mouritsen H. (2016) "The radical pair mechansim of magnetoreception". Annual Review in Biophysics 45. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biophys-032116-094545

2016: Schwarze S., Schneider N-L., Reichl T., Dreyer D., Lefeldt N., Engels S., Baker N., Hore P. J., Mouritsen H. (2016) "Weak broadband electromagnetic fields are more disruptive to magnetic compass orientation in night-migratory songbird (Erithacus rubecula) than strong narrow-band fields. Frontierts in Behavioral Neuroscience 10,55. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00055

2016: Hiscock H.G., Worster S., Kattnig D.R., Steers C., Jin Y., Manolopoulos D.E., Mouritsen H., Hore P.J. (2016) "The quantum needle of the avian magnetic compass". PNAS in press. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1600341113

2014: Engels, S., Schneider, N.-L., Lefeldt, N., Hein, C. M., Zapka, M., Michalik, A., Elbers, D., Kittel, A., Hore, P. J. & Mouritsen, H. (2014) Anthropogenic electromagnetic noise disrupts magnetic compass orientation in a migratory bird. Nature 509, 353-356. doi: 10.1038/nature13290

This paper was the cover story of the 15th of May 2014 issue of Nature. It was reported on in >500 different newspapers and at least 20 different radio channels and live on BBC World News TV at 19:15 on the 8th of May 2014 and in German and Danish television.

Besides, Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) is a kind of Electromagnetic Radiation too. Meanwhile there have been many reviews and studies published about this topic. My time is to short today to compile everything, please find more about in the list of references and links below:
Klenke RA (2016): Die dunkle Seite des künstlichen Lichtes - Wo sich Quantenphysik und Naturschutz treffen. Praxis der Naturwissenschaften - Physik in der Schule 65(7): 29-37. http://www.aulis.de/newspaper_view/praxis-der-naturwissenschaften-physik-in-der-schule.html?edition=lichtverschmutzung-1
Ruß A, Reitemeier S, Weissmann A, Gottschalk J, Einspanier A, Klenke R (2015): Seasonal and urban effects on the endocrinology of a wild passerine. Ecol Evol, 5: 5698–5710. DOI:
Holzhauer SIJ, Franke S, Kyba CCM, Manfrin A, Klenke R, Voigt CC, Lewanzik D, Oehlert M, Monaghan MT, Schneider S, Heller S, Kuechly H, Brüning A, Honnen A-C, Hölker F (2015): Out of the Dark: Establishing a Large-Scale Field Experiment to Assess the Effects of Artificial Light at Night on Species and Food Webs. Sustainability 7(11): 15593-15616. DOI:
Klenke R, Ruß A, Castellani L, Büchler B (2014): Leuchtend und doch nicht zu sehen – Der Einfluss von künstlichem Licht auf Vögel. Praxis der Naturwissenschaften - Biologie in der Schule 7/63:18-23.
Ruß A, Rüger A, Klenke RA (2014): Seize the night: European Blackbirds (Turdus merula) extend their foraging activity under artificial illumination. Journal of Ornithology 07/2014; DOI:
Hüppop O, Klenke R, Nordt A (2013): Kapitel: 5 - Vögel und künstliches Licht. In Posch, Th., Hölker, F., Uhlmann, Th., Freyhoff, A. (Eds.): Das Ende der Nacht, 2. Auflage, Wiley-VCH, pp.110-138. ISBN: 978-3-527-41179-5
Nordt A, Klenke R (2013): Sleepless in Town – Drivers of the Temporal Shift in Dawn Song in Urban European Blackbirds. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71476. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071476.
Klenke RA, Nordt A, Huang J-Sh (2013): Disoriented - Birds in the modern world. In Achternkamp, U., Heubner, H., Kraus, H., Reisinger, N., Willinghöfer, J. (Eds.): Ein ornithologisches Wundertütenkabinett. 60 gefiederte Fundstücke. Die Philosophischen Bauern, pp.3.
Hölker F, T Moss, B Griefahn, W Kloas, C C Voigt, D Henckel, A Hänel, P M Kappeler, S Völker, A Schwope, S Franke, D Uhrlandt, J Fischer, R Klenke, C. Wolter, & Tockner, K. (2010): The dark side of light: a transdisciplinary research agenda for light pollution policy. Ecology and Society 15 (4): 13.


All the best,

Member: Estelle BALIAN

Date: 19.04.2017 10:19 (GMT)

Thanks a lot Reinhard, we will discuss further with the steering goup but right now the idea is to keep the focus on electromagnetic radiations and not include light pollution that has also been more studied.

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