Devices known as jawphones have previously been used to measure interaural time and intensity discrimination in dolphins. This study introduces their use for measuring hearing sensitivity in dolphins. Auditory thresholds were measured behaviorally against natural background noise for two bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus); a 14-year-old female and a 33-year-old male. Stimuli were delivered to each ear independently by placing jawphones directly over the pan bone of the dolphin’s lower jaw, the assumed site of best reception. The shape of the female dolphin’s auditory functions, including comparison measurements made in the free field, favorably matches that of the accepted standard audiogram for the species. Thresholds previously measured for the male dolphin at 26 years of age indicated a sensitivity difference between the ears of 2–3 dB between 4–10 kHz, which was considered unremarkable at the time. Thresholds for the male dolphin reported in this study suggest a high-frequency loss compared to the standard audiogram. Both of the male’s ears have lost sensitivity to frequencies above 55 kHz and the right ear is 16–33 dB less sensitive than the left ear over the 10–40 kHz range, suggesting that males of the species may lose sensitivity as a function of age. The results of this study support the use of jawphones for the measurement of dolphin auditory sensitivity.
Assessment of dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) auditory sensitivity and hearing loss using jawphones
Randall L. Brill, Patrick W. B. Moore, Lois A. Dankiewicz; Assessment of dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) auditory sensitivity and hearing loss using jawphones. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 April 2001; 109 (4): 1717–1722. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1356704
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