Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields disrupt magnetic alignment of ruminants

  • Burda H
  • Begall S
  • Cerveny J
 et al. 
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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.

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  • H. Burda

  • S. Begall

  • J. Cerveny

  • J. Neef

  • P. Nemec

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