Evoked-potential audiogram variability in a group of wild Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis)

Abstract

Hearing is considered the primary sensory modality of cetaceans and enables their vital life functions. Information on the hearing sensitivity variability within a species obtained in a biologically relevant wild context is fundamental to evaluating potential noise impact and population-relevant management. Here, non-invasive auditory evoked-potential methods were adopted to describe the audiograms (11.2–152 kHz) of a group of four wild Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) during a capture-and-release health assessment project in Poyang Lake, China. All audiograms presented a U shape, generally similar to those of other delphinids and phocoenids. The lowest auditory threshold (51–55 dB re 1 µPa) was identified at a test frequency of 76 kHz, which was higher than that observed in aquarium porpoises (54 kHz). The good hearing range (within 20 dB of the best hearing sensitivity) was from approximately 20 to 145 kHz, and the low- and high-frequency hearing cut-offs (threshold > 120 dB re l μPa) were 5.6 and 170 kHz, respectively. Compared with aquarium porpoises, wild porpoises have significantly better hearing sensitivity at 32 and 76 kHz and worse sensitivity at 54, 108 and 140 kHz. The audiograms of this group can provide a basis for better understanding the potential impact of anthropogenic noise.

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Abbreviations

ABR:

Auditory brainstem response

AEP:

Auditory evoked potential

EEG:

Electroencephalography

EFR:

Envelope-following response

FT:

Fourier transformation

PSD:

Power spectral density

rms:

Root mean square

SAM:

Sinusoidally amplitude-modulated

sd:

Standard deviation

peSPL:

Peak-to-peak equivalent sound pressure level

PIT:

Passive integrated transponder tag

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Acknowledgements

Grants for this study were provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to Zhi-Tao Wang (Grant No. 41806197), Ding Wang (Grant No. 31070347) and Ke-Xiong Wang (Grant No. 31170501). We are grateful to Bing-Fang Yu of the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dao-Bin Gao of the Tian-E-Zhou National Baiji Conservation Reserve and fishers from Duchang County for their valuable support and assistance during porpoise capture and auditory data collection. Special thanks are also extended to the academic editor and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful critique of an earlier version of this manuscript.

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ZTW, KXW and DW conceived and designed the experiments. ZTW, JL, PXD, KXW and DW conducted the experiments. ZTW and AYS analysed and interpreted the data. ZTW, JL, PXD, ZGM, FQN, TA, PYL, LZ, JY, YWC, AYS, KXW and DW drafted and revised the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript for publication.

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Correspondence to Ke-Xiong Wang.

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This research followed a protocol approved by the Fisheries and Fisheries Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People's Republic of China (ID no. Y81Z211). The care and use of animals were consistent with China’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1989, Implementation By-law on Aquatic Wildlife Conservation.

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Wang, Z., Li, J., Duan, P. et al. Evoked-potential audiogram variability in a group of wild Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis). J Comp Physiol A 206, 527–541 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-020-01426-6

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Keywords

  • Auditory evoked-potential
  • Audiogram
  • Yangtze finless porpoise
  • Wild population
  • Cetacean