Seabirds are perhaps the most imperiled group of birds. They can readily transit between air and water and enact key behaviors in both habitats. With this amphibious lifestyle, they likely face unique auditory constraints in air, underwater, and even subterranean. Unfortunately, like many other birds, anthropogenic noise seems to be a stressor, yet we have few data on seabird hearing abilities and noise impacts. Here we examined the hearing in the Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica . Hearing tests were conducted in-air in a portable semi-anechoic crate using physiological, auditory evoked potential (AEP) methods with temporarily wild-caught, sedated birds. Hearing data were quite clear and provided an auditory curve that was not unlike AEP hearing thresholds in other birds. Lowest measured thresholds were found at 1-2 kHz with a gradual increase in AEP-thresholds at lower frequencies and a steeper increase at higher frequencies. Responses were measurable from 0.5 to 6 kHz. Obtaining auditory data for seabirds is particularly valuable considering their conservation status, population-level declines, and a minimal understanding of how they may use or be influenced by their acoustic habitat. These data show sensitive in-air hearing, and supports concerns about coastal noise which could have clear ecologically relevant consequences.
Birds of a feather: Hearing and potential noise impacts in puffins (Fratercula arctica)
T. Aran Mooney, Adam Smith, Kirstin Anderson Hansen, Ole Næsbye Larsen, Magnus Wahlberg, Marianne Rasmussen; Birds of a feather: Hearing and potential noise impacts in puffins (Fratercula arctica). Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 7 July 2019; 37 (1): 010004. https://doi.org/10.1121/2.0001037
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