The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of an electromagnetic field (EMF) of value typically recorded in the vicinity of submarine cables (50 Hz, 1 mT) on the behavior and bioenergetics of the polychaete Hediste diversicolor. No avoidance or attraction behavior to EMF was shown, but the burrowing activity of H. diversicolor was enhanced in EMF treatment, indicating a stimulating effect on bioturbation potential. The polychaete maintained a positive energy balance and high amount (85% of assimilated energy) of energy available for individual production (scope for growth) after exposure to EMF. Food consumption and respiration rates were not affected but ammonia excretion rate was significantly reduced in EMF-exposed animals compared to the control conditions (geomagnetic field). The mechanisms behind this effect remain, however, unclear. This is the first study demonstrating the effects of environmentally realistic EMF value on the behavior and physiology of marine invertebrates, thus there is a need for more research.
- Effects of 50 Hz 1 mT electromagnetic field (EMF) on H. diversicolor were assessed.
- H. diversicolor did not exhibit avoidance or attraction behavior to EMF.
- Exposure to EMF increased the sediment reworking activity of H. diversicolor.
- H. diversicolor maintained a positive energy balance after exposure to EMF.
- EMF significantly decreased the ammonia excretion rate of H. diversicolor.