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Corpus Chemistry Fellow's research featured in Nature

Anthropogenic electromagnetic noise disrupts magnetic compass orientation in a migratory bird

A collaboration between Peter Hore and Henrik Mouritsen (University of Oldenburg) has been featured on the cover of Nature.

Cover of Nature 15 May 14The research started with the surprise observation that night-migratory songbirds (European robins) tested in wooden huts on the University of Oldenburg campus were unable to orient in the appropriate migratory direction using their magnetic compass. In a series of controlled experiments over a period of 7 years Mouritsen and colleagues found that robins lose the ability to use the Earth's magnetic field when exposed to low-level electromagnetic noise between 20 kHz and 20 MHz, the kind of noise routinely generated by consumer electrical and electronic equipment. The magnetic component of these electromagnetic fields is a thousand times weaker than the human exposure limits recommended in current World Health Organization guidelines, yet it can disrupt the function of an entire sensory system in a higher vertebrate. The birds regain the ability to orient to the Earth's magnetic field when they are shielded from electromagnetic noise or when tested in a rural setting.


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