T. Aran Mooney, Adam Smith, Ole Naesbye Larsen, Kirstin Anderson Hansen, Magnus Wahlberg, and Marianne H. Rasmussen
Hearing is a primary sensory modality for birds. For seabirds, auditory data is challenging to obtain and hearing data are limited. Here, we present methods to measure seabird hearing in the field, using two Alcid species: the common murre Uria aalge and the Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica. Tests were conducted in a portable semi-anechoic crate using physiological auditory evoked potential (AEP) methods. The crate and AEP system were easily transportable to northern Iceland field sites, where wild birds were caught, sedated, studied and released. The resulting data demonstrate the feasibility of a field-based application of an established neurophysiology method, acquiring high quality avian hearing data in a relatively quiet setting. Similar field methods could be applied to other seabirds, and other bird species, resulting in reliable hearing data from a large number of individuals with a modest field effort. The results will provide insights into the sound sensitivity of species facing acoustic habitat degradation.