Audiogram of a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) measured with narrow-band frequency-modulated signals

J Acoust Soc Am. 2002 Jul;112(1):334-44. doi: 10.1121/1.1480835.


The underwater hearing sensitivity of a two-year-old harbor porpoise was measured in a pool using standard psycho-acoustic techniques. The go/no-go response paradigm and up-down staircase psychometric method were used. Auditory sensitivity was measured by using narrow-band frequency-modulated signals having center frequencies between 250 Hz and 180 kHz. The resulting audiogram was U-shaped with the range of best hearing (defined as 10 dB within maximum sensitivity) from 16 to 140 kHz, with a reduced sensitivity around 64 kHz. Maximum sensitivity (about 33 dB re 1 microPa) occurred between 100 and 140 kHz. This maximum sensitivity range corresponds with the peak frequency of echolocation pulses produced by harbor porpoises (120-130 kHz). Sensitivity falls about 10 dB per octave below 16 kHz and falls off sharply above 140 kHz (260 dB per octave). Compared to a previous audiogram of this species (Andersen, 1970), the present audiogram shows less sensitive hearing between 2 and 8 kHz and more sensitive hearing between 16 and 180 kHz. This harbor porpoise has the highest upper-frequency limit of all odontocetes investigated. The time it took for the porpoise to move its head 22 cm after the signal onset (movement time) was also measured. It increased from about 1 s at 10 dB above threshold, to about 1.5 s at threshold.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Audiometry
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Echolocation
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Noise
  • Porpoises
  • Psychoacoustics