Evoked potential audiometry of 13 Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus gilli)



Evoked potential audiograms were measured in 13 Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus gilli) to determine the variability in hearing sensitivity and range of hearing. The auditory evoked potential system used a transducer embedded in a suction cup to deliver sinusoidal amplitude modulated tones to each dolphin through the pan region of the lower right jaw. Evoked potentials were recorded noninvasively using surface electrodes, and hearing thresholds were estimated by tracking the amplitude of the envelope following response, an evoked potential that is phase-locked to the stimulus modulation rate. Frequencies tested ranged from 10 to 180 kHz in each animal. Variability in the range of hearing and age-related reductions in hearing sensitivity and range of hearing were consistent with those observed in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Comparison of audiograms to a captive population of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins demonstrated that the Pacific bottlenose dolphins tested in this study had significantly lower thresholds at frequencies of 40 and 60–115 kHz. Differences in thresholds between the groups are unlikely to be due to methodological factors.