As diving foragers, sea ducks are vulnerable to underwater anthropogenic activity, including ships, underwater construction, seismic surveys and gillnet fisheries. Bycatch in gillnets is a contributing source of mortality for sea ducks, killing hundreds of thousands of individuals annually. We researched underwater hearing in sea duck species to increase knowledge of underwater avian acoustic sensitivity and to assist with possible development of gillnet bycatch mitigation strategies that include auditory deterrent devices. We used both psychoacoustic and electrophysiological techniques to investigate underwater duck hearing in several species including the long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis), surf scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) and common eider (Somateria mollissima). Psychoacoustic results demonstrated that all species tested share a common range of maximum auditory sensitivity of 1.0–3.0 kHz, with the long-tailed ducks and common eiders at the high end of that range (2.96 kHz), and surf scoters at the low end (1.0 kHz). In addition, our electrophysiological results from 4 surf scoters and 2 long-tailed ducks, while only tested at 0.5, 1 and 2 kHz, generally agree with the audiogram shape from our psychoacoustic testing. The results from this study are applicable to the development of effective acoustic deterrent devices or pingers in the 2–3 kHz range to deter sea ducks from anthropogenic threats.
|Title||Underwater hearing in sea ducks with applications for reducing gillnet bycatch through acoustic deterrence|
|Authors||Kathleen A. McGrew, Sara E. Crowell, Jonathan Fiely, Alicia Berlin, Glenn H. Olsen, Jennifer James, Heather Hopkins, Christopher J. Williams|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Experimental Biology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center|