Predicting temporary threshold shifts in a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): the effects of noise level and duration. Academic Article uri icon


  • Noise levels in the ocean are increasing and are expected to affect marine mammals. To examine the auditory effects of noise on odontocetes, a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) was exposed to octave-band noise (4-8 kHz) of varying durations (<2-30 min) and sound pressures (130-178 dB re 1 microPa). Temporary threshold shift (TTS) occurrence was quantified in an effort to (i) determine the sound exposure levels (SELs) (dB re 1 microPa(2) s) that induce TTS and (ii) develop a model to predict TTS onset. Hearing thresholds were measured using auditory evoked potentials. If SEL was kept constant, significant shifts were induced by longer duration exposures but not for shorter exposures. Higher SELs were required to induce shifts in shorter duration exposures. The results did not support an equal-energy model to predict TTS onset. Rather, a logarithmic algorithm, which increased in sound energy as exposure duration decreased, was a better predictor of TTS. Recovery to baseline hearing thresholds was also logarithmic (approximately -1.8 dB/doubling of time) but indicated variability including faster recovery rates after greater shifts and longer recoveries necessary after longer duration exposures. The data reflected the complexity of TTS in mammals that should be taken into account when predicting odontocete TTS.

publication date

  • March 2009