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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 7;106(14):5708-13. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811194106. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields disrupt magnetic alignment of ruminants.

Author information

  • 1Department of General Zoology, Faculty of Biology and Geography, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45117 Essen, Germany. hynek.burda@uni-due.de

Abstract

Resting and grazing cattle and deer tend to align their body axes in the geomagnetic North-South direction. The mechanism(s) that underlie this behavior remain unknown. Here, we show that extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELFMFs) generated by high-voltage power lines disrupt alignment of the bodies of these animals with the geomagnetic field. Body orientation of cattle and roe deer was random on pastures under or near power lines. Moreover, cattle exposed to various magnetic fields directly beneath or in the vicinity of power lines trending in various magnetic directions exhibited distinct patterns of alignment. The disturbing effect of the ELFMFs on body alignment diminished with the distance from conductors. These findings constitute evidence for magnetic sensation in large mammals as well as evidence of an overt behavioral reaction to weak ELFMFs in vertebrates. The demonstrated reaction to weak ELFMFs implies effects at the cellular and molecular levels.

PMID:
19299504
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2667019
Free PMC Article

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