A prediction of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) middle-ear transfer function
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The lack of baleen whale (Cetacea Mysticeti) audiograms impedes the assessment of the impacts of anthropogenic noise on these animals. Estimates of audiograms, which are difficult to obtain behaviorally or electrophysiologically for baleen whales, can be made by simulating the audiogram as a series of components representing the outer, middle, and inner ear (Rosowski, 1991; Ruggero and Temchin, 2002). The middle-ear portion of the system can be represented by the middle-ear transfer function (METF), a measure of the transmission of acoustic energy from the external ear to the cochlea. An anatomically accurate finite element model of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) middle ear was developed to predict the METF for a mysticete species. The elastic moduli of the auditory ossicles were measured by using nanoindentation. Other mechanical properties were estimated from experimental stiffness measurements or from published values. The METF predicted a best frequency range between approximately 30 Hz and 7.5 kHz or between 100 Hz and 25 kHz depending on stimulation location. Parametric analysis found that the most sensitive parameters are the elastic moduli of the glove finger and joints and the Rayleigh damping stiffness coefficient ß. The predicted hearing range matches well with the vocalization range.
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