Wild plants and crops depend on insect pollinators. However, their number has been declining for decades – causes: pesticides, habitat change, global warming and diseases. are particularly threatened honey bee It is globally considered one of the most important pollinators, such as Marco A. Molina – Montenegro The University of Chile’s Talca and his team explained recently in the journal Science Advances.
Apis mellifera It is very common in humans and very effective in pollination. However, this efficiency can suffer from another source of man-made interference: electromagnetic radiation. The extent to which this affects insects in general has been the subject of debate in recent years.
Confused and tense
However, honeybees use the Earth’s magnetic field to determine their direction. Your delicate sensors can be disturbed by artificial electromagnetic fields, type Molina-Montenegro and Co. in StadyAnimals lose their orientation and sometimes cannot return to their hive.
The team has now conducted experiments and is looking directly at high-voltage pylons in Chile to see if this also affects bee behavior during pollination and subsequently on plants. The strength of the magnetic field there can reach nearly ten microtesla. According to the study authors, there were physiological stress reactions in the bees in the immediate vicinity of the radiation source, which can be detected in the form of biochemical markers and activation of certain genes.
The team also noticed changes in behaviour. At a distance of 10 to 25 meters from an active high-voltage tower, far fewer bees visited the ones that were blooming there California poppy. Even when there were plenty of flowers—which usually attracts lots of bees—the animals tended to visit less flowery areas away from the poles.
In a further step, the team investigated whether this also had consequences for plants. In fact, the poppy plants produced fewer seeds closer to the electricity poles. The researchers were able to rule out that this is due to the direct effects of the electromagnetic field on the poppy plant: because in hand pollination, the plants produce the same number of seeds as they would in places further away from the towers. Only when they relied on bee pollination did the number of seeds decrease.
According to the study, more and more wild creatures are exposed to electromagnetic radiation due to the global expansion of energy supply and the spread of human civilization. This, in turn, could have consequences for the pollination of agricultural crops, including for humans.
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