• Behavioral audiogram of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): Preliminary results

      Owen, Megan A.; Keating, Jennifer L.; Denes, Samuel L.; Hawk, Kathy; Boroski, Juli; Fiore, Angela; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2011)
      We used behavioral techniques to assess the hearing sensitivity of four, critically endangered, giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Study subjects included one adult male (age 19), two adult females (ages 5 and 19), and one sub-adult female (age 3)…. Hearing sensitivity data will enhance the understanding of how anthropogenic noise may impact both free-ranging and captive giant pandas.
    • In-air auditory psychophysics and the management of a threatened carnivore, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus)

      Owen, Megan A.; AE, Bowles (2011)
      Management criteria for preventing biologically-significant noise disturbance in large terrestrial mammals have not been developed based on a sound, empirical understanding of their sensory ecology. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal denning areas on the coastal plain of Alaska’s North Slope hold large petroleum reserves and will be subject to increased development in the future. Anthropogenic noise could adversely affect polar bears by disrupting intra-specific communication, altering habitat use, or causing behavioral and physiological stress. However, little is known about the hearing of any large, carnivorous mammal, including bears; so, management criteria currently in use to protect denning female polar bears may or may not be proportionate and effective. As part of a comprehensive effort to develop efficient, defensible criteria we used behavioral psycho acousticmethods to test in-air hearing sensitivity of five polar bears at frequencies between 125 Hz and 31.5kHz. Results showed best sensitivity between 8 and 14 kHz. Sensitivity declined sharply between 14and 25 kHz, suggesting an upper limit of hearing 10-20 kHz below that of small carnivores. Low frequency sensitivity was comparable to that of the domestic dog, and a decline in functional hearingwas observed at 125 Hz. Thresholds will be used to develop efficient exposure metrics, which will be needed increasingly as the Arctic is developed and effects of disturbance are intensified by anticipated declines in polar bear health and reproduction associated with climate change driven sea ice losses.
    • Remote touch prey-detection by Madagascar crested ibises Lophotibis cristata urschi

      Cunningham, Susan J.; Castro, Isabel; Jensen, Thomas; Potter, Murray A.; (2010)
      Birds that forage by probing must often rely on sensory systems other than vision to detect their buried prey. Such senses may include hearing (e.g. Australian magpies (Atramidae), American robins (Turdidae)) or chemical senses/olfaction (e.g. kiwi (Apterygidae) and some shorebirds (Scolopacidae)). Probe foraging kiwi and shorebirds are also able to use vibrotactile cues to locate prey buried in the substrate at some distance from their bill‐tips (‘remote touch’). These birds possess an organ consisting of a honey‐comb of sensory pits in bone of the bill‐tips, packed with mechanoreceptive nerve ending (Herbst corpuscles). Such a bill‐tip organ has recently also been described in ibises (Threskiornithinae), but its function not elucidated. We designed a foraging experiment presenting mealworm prey to three captive Madagascar crested ibises Lophotibis cristata urschi under a variety of trial conditions to discover whether they were using remote touch, mediated by their bill‐tip organ; chemosense/olfaction; or hearing to locate buried prey. The ibises were reliant on remote touch for prey detection – the first time this sensory system has been demonstrated for this group of birds. They did not appear to use hearing or chemical senses/olfaction to aid in prey detection.
    • Social context mediates testosterone's effect on snort acoustics in male hyrax songs

      Weissman, Yishai A.; Demartsev, Vlad; Ilany, Amiyaal; Barocas, Adi; Bar-Ziv, Einat; Geffen, Eli; Koren, Lee (2019)
      Testosterone affects physical and motivational states, both of which may strongly influence vocalization structure and acoustics. The loud complex calls (i.e., songs) of male rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) are used as honest signals for advertising physical and social states. The snort, a low frequency, noisy element of the song, encodes information on the singer's age and social rank via harshness, as measured by jitter (i.e., acoustic frequency stability) and duration; suggesting that the snort concomitantly advertises both vocal stability and aggression. Our past findings revealed that testosterone levels are related to both vocal elements and social status of male hyraxes, suggesting that hormonal mechanisms mediate the motivation for aggressive and courtship behaviors. Here we examined whether long-term androgen levels are related to snort acoustics and song structure by comparing levels of testosterone in hair with acoustic and structural parameters. We found that songs performed by individuals with higher testosterone levels include more singing bouts and longer, smoother snorts, but only in those songs induced by external triggers. It is possible that hyraxes with higher levels of testosterone possess the ability to perform higher-quality singing, but only invest in situations of high social arousal and potential benefit. Surprisingly, in spontaneous songs, hyraxes with high testosterone were found to snort more harshly than low-testosterone males. The context dependent effects of high testosterone on snort acoustics suggest that the aggressive emotional arousal associated with testosterone is naturally reflected in the jittery hyrax snort, but that it can be masked by high-quality performance.