Many aquatic birds use sounds extensively for in-air communication. Regardless of this, we know very little about their hearing abilities. The in-air audiogram of a male adult great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) was determined using psychophysical methods (method of constants). Hearing thresholds were derived using pure tones of five different frequencies. The lowest threshold was at 2 kHz: 18 dB re 20 µPa rms. Thresholds derived using signal detection theory were within 2 dB of the ones derived using classical psychophysics. The great cormorant is more sensitive to in-air sounds than previously believed and its hearing abilities are comparable to several other species of birds of similar size. This knowledge is important for our understanding of the hearing abilities of other species of sea birds. It can also be used to develop cormorant deterrent devices for fisheries, as well as to assess the impact of increasing in-air anthropogenic noise levels on cormorants and other aquatic birds.
- Received December 29, 2016.
- Accepted March 9, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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