Marine Science Faculty Publications


Pacific Herring Hearing does not Include Ultrasound

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Recent studies have shown that some clupeid fishes, including shad and menhaden, can detect ultrasound (sound with frequencies higher than 20 kHz) and actively avoid it. However, other clupeids, including sardines and anchovies, do not detect ultrasound. The hearing abilities of herring are of particular interest because of their commercial importance, our reliance on acoustics to monitor their populations and behavioural evidence of responses to high-frequency sound by some clupeid species. We measured the hearing sensitivity of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) using the auditory brainstem response and found that they were unable to detect ultrasonic signals at received levels up to 185 dB re 1 μPa. Herring had hearing thresholds at lower frequencies (100–5000 Hz) that were typical of other non-ultrasound‐detecting clupeids. This lower‐frequency hearing sensitivity could explain the results of several earlier studies showing responses to broadband sounds.

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Biology Letters, v. 1, issue 2, p. 158-161