Polar bear Ursus maritimus hearing measured with auditory evoked potentials. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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 half-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.

publication date

  • April 2007