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Dr Wesley Webb staff profile picture

Contact details +6492136625

Dr Wesley Webb PhD, BSc (Hons), BMus / BSc Conjoint

Research Officer

School of Natural Sciences

I'm a behavioural ecologist with expertise in ornithology. My PhD was on the evolution of female birdsong and the comparison of vocal cultures between sexes—including a large field study on New Zealand bellbirds. I helped to create analysis tools ( for large-scale analysis of animal sounds. I hold a Marsden Fast-Start grant (Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi), Understanding the evolution of complex female song in songbirds. In my lecturing and science outreach I strive to inspire and equip students to become ambassadors for science and stewards of the planet.


Contact details

  • Location: 56.03, 56
    Campus: Oteha Rohe


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey University (2020)
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) - University of Auckland (2014)
  • Bachelor of Music / Bachelor of Science Conjoint - University of Auckland (2013)

Prizes and Awards

  • Marsden Fast-Start - Royal Society of New Zealand (2021)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Avian Biology


Behavioural Ecology


Research Opportunities

  • Help us develop Koe bioacoustics software  (01/09/2021) Koe ( is open-source web-based bioacoustics software, coded in Python and JS. Help us develop this awesome tool for analysing animal sounds! Contact

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Animal Behaviour (060801): Behavioural Ecology (060201): Biological Sciences (060000): Ecology (060200): Evolutionary Biology (060300): Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis (060309): Zoology (060800)


Ornithology, Birdsong, Animal Vocalisations, Bioacoustics, Behavioural Ecology, Evolution

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 1 0

Current Projects

Project Title: Understanding the evolution of complex female song in songbirds

Date Range: 2021 - 2024

Funding Body: Royal Society of New Zealand

Project Team:

Research Outputs


Webb, WH., Roper, MM., Pawley, MDM., Fukuzawa, Y., Harmer, AMT., & Brunton, DH. (2021). Sexually Distinct Song Cultures Across a Songbird Metapopulation. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 9
[Journal article]Authored by: Pawley, M., Roper, M., Webb, W.
Fukuzawa, Y., Webb, WH., Pawley, MDM., Roper, MM., Marsland, S., Brunton, DH., . . . Gilman, A. (2020). Koe: Web-based software to classify acoustic units and analyse sequence structure in animal vocalizations. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 11(3), 431-441
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Pawley, M., Roper, M., Webb, W.
Webb, WH., Brunton, DH., Aguirre, JD., Thomas, DB., Valcu, M., & Dale, J. (2016). Female song occurs in songbirds with more elaborate female coloration and reduced sexual dichromatism. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 4(MAR)
[Journal article]Authored by: Aguirre-Davies, J., Dale, J., Thomas, D., Webb, W.
Webb, WH., & Sewell, MA. (2015). Year-round maturity of the chaetognath Aidanosagitta regularis in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. Marine and Freshwater Research. 66(9), 852-856
[Journal article]Authored by: Webb, W.


Webb, W. (2020). New horizons for female birdsong : evolution, culture and analysis tools : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Ecology at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. (Doctoral Thesis)
[Doctoral Thesis]Authored by: Webb, W.Edited by: Brunton, D., Pawley, M.

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

2021                      Supervisor of Masters student for Computer Science Professional Project (159.888), semester two.

2021                      Tutor for second-year Science and Sustainability paper (247.113), semester two.

2016 – 2021          Lecturer / Tutor for third-year Ornithology paper (199.330); developed and ran sound analysis labs using Massey-created software Koe and other bioacoustics software.

2020                      Course coordinator / lecturer for third-year Experimental Zoology paper (199.320), semester two.

2020                      Course coordinator / lecturer for postgraduate Animal Behaviour paper (199.714), semester one. Designed and taught this new course.

2019                      Lecturer for third-year Behavioural Ecology paper (199.312); two lectures on sexual selection.

2019 – 2021          Invited speaker on caring for the planet. Several community groups, including A Rocha, Auckland, New Zealand.

2019, ‘18, ’17, ‘15 Nature guide / Tutor for Bio-Olympiad high school biology competition. Island ecology, bird count techniques, bird behaviour, statistics. Tawharanui Regional Park and Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand.

2018 and 2016      Reviewer for papers submitted to Journal of Ornithology and Emu – Austral Ornithology.

2016, ’17, ’18, ‘19  Tutor for second-year Ecology and Conservation paper (196.205); course has 8 labs and 2 fieldtrips. Massey University, Auckland, NZ.

Media and Links

Other Links