Hugo Loning

Curriculum vitae

Hugo Loning completed his Bachelor in Biology at the Universiteit Leiden in 2014 with a thesis on anthropogenic noise effects on blackbird song. Becoming more and more interested in animal ecology and bioacoustics, he continued his studies at Wageningen University. Here he conducted research on artificial light colour effects on bat roosting ecology at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and conducted a comparative study on acoustic adaptation in neotropical frog species in Panama in collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. After obtaining his
Master degree in Biology in 2018, he continued as PhD at the Behavioural Ecology Group in Wageningen. Here he studies vocal communication in breeding decisions by wild zebra finches. This is done under supervision of Marc Naguib (Wageningen University) and in collaboration with Simon Griffith (Macquarie University, Sydney).

Research interests


  • Animal Communication
  • Environmental Acoustics
  • Tropical and Arid Zone Ecology
  • Sensory Ecology
  • Anthropogenic Disturbance
  • Climate Change Resilience


Project overview

To predict how animals will adapt to climate change, it is key to understand how they respond to climatic variability. Species living in unpredictable environments, such as the climatically erratic arid zone of Australia, provide an excellent opportunity to study such adaptations.

In this project we study vocal communication in breeding decisions of wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), the world’s most studied lab bird. Differing from the historically studied birds of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, zebra finches are especially interesting because they are not territorial, their song is close-range and they produce songs in many different contexts such as social gatherings. Although we know that their song has a function in mate choice when reaching maturity, why they sing for the rest of their adult life remains unclear. We hypothesise that their song functions as a signal that attains breeding synchrony through social facilitation.

Fieldwork is conducted at Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station, home of the world's only nest box breeding population of wild zebra finches.