Influence of electromagnetic pollution on Latvian migratory butterflies

Duration of the project

01.07.2022. - 15.11.2022.

Countries and institutions involved in the project

University of Latvia
University of Oldenburg

Project manager

Dr. Oskars Keišs

Aims of the project

Across the planet, electromagnetic radiation is increasing and spreading, leading to human-induced electromagnetic pollution. Understanding how wildlife is affected has taken on a new urgency, with the rollout of 5 and 6G wireless, and global establishments of a decentralized radio-frequency-based (MHz range) networks (LoRaWAN) to enable maximally possible coverage for an internet-of-things. Sub-lethal biological effects have been observed after radio-frequency treatments characteristic of urban environments, such as impairments in learning and memory, as well as malfunction of magnetoreception essential to the navigation system in songbirds. The Earth’s magnetic field is a key cue for many animals’ navigation system. While there is strong evidence that important pollinator species like butterflies can sense magnetic fields, and respond to perturbations, insects still remain remarkably understudied with regard to their vulnerability to EP. In light of this, our goal is to study to which extend butterflies migrating from or through Latvia are disturbed by EP, both at nightly rests and daily flights, and in order to elucidate their vulnerability to an increasing environmental pollutant.

Main activities of the project

  1. A field seminar introducing all project partners to the methodologies of the research element will be conducted at the Pape Ornithological Station, Univ. of Latvia, in Pape (Rucavas pagasts, Dienvidkurzemes municipality, Latvia)
  2. The study visit of Latvian partners to Germany will be to Oldenburg, Oldenburg University and University of Würzburg.
  3. The public seminar will be organized at the New Building of Natural Sciences of the University of Latvia in Torņakalns – Rīga, Jelgavas iela 1

Project target group

Direct: The community of entomologists especially, and biodiversity policy makers in Latvia, and the EU in general (targeted through the scientific publication of the results (we are planning to submit it first to the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” and published in 2023 (; number of persons is difficult to predict accurately). Latvian students, representatives of the Latvian Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment, and the Nature Conservation offices, and the general public interested in (farmland) biodiversity (targeted through our planned public seminar, social media communication; around 100 people are expected at the seminar).

Indirect: The general public (>10.000 people) will be reached through dissemination of results via social media and publication of results. Further, we expect to raise awareness among Latvian farmers and landscape-managers in particular and the general public about biodiversity protection and effects of urbanization which is accompanied by EP.