Dr. Wouter Halfwerk

Wouter Halfwerk
©Jussi Puikkonen/KNAW

Seeing voices, hearing noises: the complex impact of the acoustic environment on animal behaviour.

At a very young age, Wouter was already hooked to the natural world. Whenever he had the opportunity he would venture out into the woods looking for birds, and at a later age all sorts of other critters. First, alone, latter in the company of fellow field biologists from the JNM, one of the Dutch Environmental Youth Societies. He started his studies in 2000, both on biology and philosophy at Nijmegen University, moved to Utrecht for his Masters and finished his studies at Leiden University. For his Master thesis he travelled across the Ecuadorian Andes to study the effect of environmental variation on song evolution in wood-wrens. For his PhD he returned to the Netherlands where he continued to study bird song in great tits and the effect of anthropogenic noise on their perception, behaviour and physiology. After obtaining his degree from Leiden University in 2012 he went back to the Neotropics again, this time studying multimodal perception in both bats and frogs for three years at the Smithsonian Institute. Currently he is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Ecological Sciences at the VU University, working on a wide range of study systems to understand how animals process environmental signals and cues, how this drives their interactions and how these processes are effected by natural and anthropogenic environmental variation.