[MARMAM] Polar Bear Hearing

Paul Nachtigall nachtiga at hawaii.edu
Wed Feb 7 12:28:06 PST 2007

The following article will be published very soon 
in the  Journal of Experimental Biology:

Polar bear Ursus maritimus hearing measured with auditory evoked potentials

Paul E. Nachtigall1, Alexander Ya. Supin 2, Mats 
Amundin3, Bengt Röken3 Thorsten Møller 3, T, Aran 
Mooney1,Kristen A. Taylor1,  and Michelle Yuen1,4,

1Marine Mammal research Program, Hawaii Institute 
of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii.,HI, USA 
2Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the 
Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, 3 
Kolmården Djurpark, Kolmården, Sweden, 4National 
Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Regional Office, Honolulu, Hawaii.


While there has been recent concern about the 
effects of sound on marine mammals, including 
polar bears, there are no data available 
measuring the hearing of any bear. The in-air 
hearing of three polar bears was measured using 
evoked auditory potentials obtained while tone 
pips were played to three individually 
anaesthetized bears at the Kolmården 
Djurpark.  Hearing was tested in ½ octave steps 
from 1 to 22.5 kHz.  Measurements were not 
obtainable at 1 kHz and best sensitivity was 
found in the range from 11.2-22.5 kHz. 
Considering the tone pips were short and 
background noise measurements were available, 
absolute measurements were estimated based on an 
assumed mammalian integration time of 300 ms. 
These data show sensitive hearing in the polar 
bear over a wide frequency range and should cause 
those concerned with the introduction of 
anthropogenic noise into the polar bear’s 
environment to operate with caution.

Paul E. Nachtigall
Marine Mammal Research Program
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
808 247-5297
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