For marine mammals, auditory perception plays a critical role in a variety of acoustically mediated behaviors, such as communication, foraging, social interactions, and avoidance of predators. Although auditory perception involves many other factors beyond merely hearing or detecting sounds, sound detection is a required element for perception. As with many other processes, sound detection may be adversely affected by the presence of noise. This chapter focuses on two of the most common manifestations of the effects of noise on sound detection: auditory masking and noise-induced threshold shifts. The current state of knowledge regarding auditory masking and noise-induced threshold shifts in marine mammals is reviewed, and perceptual consequences of masking and threshold shifts are discussed.
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