Risk to pollinators from anthropogenic electro-magnetic radiation (EMR): Evidence and knowledge gaps
Abstract Worldwide urbanisation and use of mobile and wireless technologies (5G, Internet of Things) is leading to the proliferation of anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and campaigning voices continue to call for the risk to human health and wildlife to be recognised. Pollinators provide many benefits to nature and humankind, but face multiple anthropogenic threats. Here, we assess whether artificial light at night (ALAN) and anthropogenic radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (AREMR), such as used in wireless technologies (4G, 5G) or emitted from power lines, represent an additional and growing threat to pollinators. A lack of high quality scientific studies means that knowledge of the risk to pollinators from anthropogenic EMR is either inconclusive, unresolved, or only partly established. A handful of studies provide evidence that ALAN can alter pollinator communities, pollination and fruit set. Laboratory experiments provide some, albeit variable, evidence that the honey bee Apis mellifera and other invertebrates can detect EMR, potentially using it for orientation or navigation, but they do not provide evidence that AREMR affects insect behaviour in ecosystems. Scientifically robust evidence of AREMR impacts on abundance or diversity of pollinators (or other invertebrates) are limited to a single study reporting positive and negative effects depending on the pollinator group and geographical location. Therefore, whether anthropogenic EMR (ALAN or AREMR) poses a significant threat to insect pollinators and the benefits they provide to ecosystems and humanity remains to be established.