DOI: 10.1121/10.0020588 ISSN:

Temporary noise-induced underwater hearing loss in an aquatic turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans)

Andria K. Salas, Alyssa M. Capuano, Craig A. Harms, Wendy E. D. Piniak, T. Aran Mooney
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Noise pollution in aquatic environments can cause hearing loss in noise-exposed animals. We investigated whether exposure to continuous underwater white noise (50–1000 Hz) affects the auditory sensitivity of an aquatic turtle Trachemys scripta elegans (red-eared slider) across 16 noise conditions of differing durations and amplitudes. Sound exposure levels (SELs) ranged between 155 and 193 dB re 1 μPa2 s, and auditory sensitivity was measured at 400 Hz using auditory evoked potential methods. Comparing control and post-exposure thresholds revealed temporary threshold shifts (TTS) in all three individuals, with at least two of the three turtles experiencing TTS at all but the two lowest SELs tested, and shifts up to 40 dB. There were significant positive relationships between shift magnitude and exposure duration, amplitude, and SEL. The mean predicted TTS onset was 160 dB re 1 μPa2 s. There was individual variation in susceptibility to TTS, threshold shift magnitude, and recovery rate, which was non-monotonic and occurred on time scales ranging from < 1 h to > 2 days post-exposure. Recovery rates were generally greater after higher magnitude shifts. Sound levels inducing hearing loss were comparatively low, suggesting aquatic turtles may be more sensitive to underwater noise than previously considered.

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