Auditory evoked potential (AEP) data are commonly obtained in air while sea lions are under gas anesthesia; a procedure that precludes the measurement of underwater hearing sensitivity. This is a substantial limitation considering the importance of underwater hearing data in designing criteria aimed at mitigating the effects of anthropogenic noise exposure. To determine if some aspects of underwater hearing sensitivity can be predicted using rapid aerial AEP methods, this study measured underwater psychophysical thresholds for a young male California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) for which previously published aerial AEP thresholds exist. Underwater thresholds were measured in an aboveground pool at frequencies between 1 and 38 kHz. The underwater audiogram was very similar to those previously published for California sea lions, suggesting that the current and previously obtained psychophysical data are representative for this species. The psychophysical and previously measured AEP audiograms were most similar in terms of high-frequency hearing limit (HFHL), although the underwater HFHL was sharper and occurred at a higher frequency. Aerial AEP methods are useful for predicting reductions in the HFHL that are potentially independent of the testing medium, such as those due to age-related sensorineural hearing loss.
Underwater psychophysical audiogram of a young male California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)a)
Jason Mulsow, Dorian S. Houser, James J. Finneran; Underwater psychophysical audiogram of a young male California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 May 2012; 131 (5): 4182–4187. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3699195
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