Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




John Swaddle

Committee Members

Rowan Lockwood

Robert Rose


Sensory ecology shows us how organisms perceive and respond to sensory stimuli in the environment, and how humans may change these interactions. In the natural environment, human activities create noise pollution that impacts animals’ survival and reproduction. The current literature assessing this phenomenon in birds studies their hearing sensitivities, focusing on which frequencies they are most sensitive to. This research primarily uses two approaches– collecting data behaviorally and physiologically. Physiological data is easier to collect than behavioral data, but recent findings suggest that physiological methods measure birds as less sensitive than behavioral methods. By extensively reviewing the current literature on avian hearing and accounting for differences among methodologies, we came to new conclusions about avian auditory sensitivities and the methods used to measure them. First, we found that the most sensitive birds (Strigiformes and Accipitriformes) have similar hearing capabilities to humans. Therefore, we can determine avian experiences of noise using the same technology as for humans. Also, there are differences in hearing sensitivities among non-Passeriformes orders that had not previously been quantitatively analyzed. Lastly, the differences between behavioral and physiological methodologies are inconsistent among orders. Passeriformes have similar results between methods than non-Passeriform orders, which have large differences between the two. We urge future researchers to investigate these differences between methodologies and account for them in comparisons between taxonomic groups and humans.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 03, 2023

On-Campus Access Only