2017 – present PhD Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Edinburgh
Carnegie-Caledonian PhD Scholarship, NERC E3 DTP Studentship
Title: Attribution of biodiversity change to land use change and climate change
I am quantifying the effects of global change drivers on biodiversity change. You can find more information about my research here.
2012 – 2016 BSc Ecology and Environmental Science, University of Edinburgh      1st Class Hons
Dissertation: The effect of agri-environmental schemes on farmland birds
I examined applied benefits of AES for conservation in complex landscapes in Scotland.
2014 – 2015 International Exchange Programme, University of Queensland         High Distinction


2017 Field assistant, Tundra Ecology Lab, University of Edinburgh
I collected data on plant phenology and community composition in the Arctic.
2017 Field assistant, Phillimore Group, University of Edinburgh
I surveyed tree and bird phenology along a latitudinal transect in Scotland.
2016 – 2017 Lab and data manager, Tundra Ecology Lab, University of Edinburgh
I gained experience in data analysis, dendrochronology and drone imagery processing.
2016 Field assistant, Kruuk Lab, Australian National University
I recorded superb fairy-wren mating displays for a long-term evolutionary study.


2018 Best PhD student who tutors – University of Edinburgh Teaching Awards Runner up
Prize for Excellence in Oral Presentation – School of GeoSciences Postgraduate Conference
Principal’s Go Abroad Fund to support field expedition to the Arctic
William Dickson Fund to support travel for fieldwork
2017 Carnegie-Caledonian PhD Scholarship  
  Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme Grant to support Coding Club
I have been developing statistics and programming tutorials.
University of Edinburgh Impact Award for Best Student-Staff collaboration for Coding Club
Peter Marsh Prize to conduct fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic
Highly commended talk, Scottish Ecology, Env. and Cons. Conference
2016 Innovation Initiative Grant to spearhead Coding Club
Principal’s Go Abroad Fund to conduct fieldwork in Australia
Most distinguished graduate and best honours dissertation
Ecological and Environmental Sciences Programme, University of Edinburgh
Best short presentation, Scottish Tropical Ecology Conference
2015 Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence, University of Queensland


Daskalova, G.N., Phillimore, A.B., Bell, M., Maggs, H., Perkins, A. J. Population Responses of Five Bird Species to 12 Years of Agri-environment Schemes in Northeastern Scotland. (in revision for Journal of Applied Ecology)

Daskalova, G.N., Godlee, J.L., Myers-Smith, I.H. Rarity and conservation status do not predict vertebrate population trends. (submitted) Available on bioRxiv.




Species’ attributes such as rarity and conservation status are often assumed to predict population change which in turn can influence conservation decision-making; however, there are very few empirical tests across taxa and biomes. We use a database of 9284 vertebrate populations from 2084 species in the UK and globally to quantify population change across rarity, Red List status, biomes and taxa. We found that rarity metrics (geographic range, population size and habitat specificity) did not predict population trends in the UK and globally, but greater fluctuations were more likely for smaller populations and species with larger ranges. There was no consistent pattern of net declines with increasing Red List status. We found higher-order taxonomic, but not geographic patterning of population change at global scales, with pronounced declines for amphibians. On a finer taxonomic scale, within amphibian, bird and reptile classes species, for which species-level phylogenies have been especially well resolved, there was no strong phylogenetic or taxonomic signal in the variation in population trends and fluctuations. Our findings suggest that rarity metrics, conservation status and phylogenetic clustering are poor predictors of vertebrate population trends of well monitored species, but that species with smaller populations were nevertheless more likely to fluctuate, potentially increasing their extinction risk. Thus, improved population monitoring across a diverse range of taxa is required, as species rarity and conservation status alone are insufficient to inform conservation prioritization.



Myers-Smith, I.H., Grabowski, M., Thomas, H., Angers-Blondin, S., Daskalova, G.N., et al. Eighteen years of ecological monitoring reveals multiple lines of evidence for tundra vegetation change (in review at Ecological Monographs, manuscript available on request)


RESEARCH My research experience includes studying population and biodiversity change using long-term datasets from focal sites and global databases, and synthesising biodiversity and gridded datasets to quantify how global change drivers are re-shaping ecological communities in the Anthropocene.
DATA ANALYSIS Proficient user of the R programming environment (e.g. packages tidyverse, MCMCglmm, vegan, lme4rmarkdown) and GitHub for version control and project management. Additional programming languages: HTML, CSS, Markdown.
              Certified Software and Data Carpentry Instructor
Image analysis: AgiSoft PhotoScan, Pix4D (drone imagery) and ImageJ
Spatial analysis: ArcGIS and QGIS
TEACHING I am coordinating Coding Club (online tutorials available on website), a peer-to-peer initiative developing statistics and programming skills for researchers at all career stages. I am co-supervising two students (Honours and Masters research projects), tutoring on the Conservation Science and GeoScience Outreach courses and demonstrating on the NERC E3 Doctoral Training Programme 1st year course (version control and R modules) at the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, I was the runner up for the University of Edinburgh Teaching Award for Best PhD student who tutors.
FIELDWORK I have experience in environmental and ecological monitoring to study biodiversity change, phenology change and animal behaviour, and in using GNSS equipment (Global Navigation Satellite System) to conduct high-precision geolocation surveys. I have successfully completed three field seasons (Australia, Scotland and the Canadian Arctic).


2018 Eighteen years of ecological monitoring reveals multiple lines of evidence for tundra vegetation change
ITEX (International Tundra Experiment) Meeting, Stirling
Attribution of population change to rarity and forest cover change
Student Conference on Conservation Science, Cambridge (poster)
  Does forest cover change explain species richness change?
Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference, St Andrews
Do rarity and land-use change explain population and biodiversity change? (seminar talk in Ghent University)
Attribution of biodiversity change to land-use change and climate change (poster)
Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland Annual Meeting
2017 Does rarity influence population trends in the UK and across global biomes?
Ecology Across Borders Conference, Ghent
Coding Club: an innovative peer-to-peer learning community
University of Edinburgh Student-Staff Partnership signing (invited talk)
Are rare species more likely to be declining than common species in the UK?
RSE Spotlight on Scotland’s Biodiversity Conference (invited talk)
Innovation and experiential learning (Isla Myers-Smith & Gergana Daskalova)
University of Edinburgh Senate’s Away Day (invited talk)
Are rare species more likely to decline than common species?
Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference (highly commended)
2016 Population responses of five bird species to 12 years of agri-env. schemes
British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Liverpool
  Landscape-contingent effectiveness of agri-environment schemes
Kruuk Group, Research School of Biology, Australian National University
  Homogenisation of avian communities due to edge effects
Scottish Tropical Ecology Meeting, Stirling (best short talk)


Efficient data manipulation and visualisation, and reproducible workflows
Workshop for the EVENET network, Ghent University

Manipulation and visualisation of spatial and population data
UK and Northern Ireland Marine Mammalogy 2018 Annual Meeting, St Andrews, Scotland

Transferring quantitative skills among scientists
Ecology Across Borders 2017, Ghent, Belgium

Setting up a GitHub repository for your lab
Biodiversity and Behaviour Research Group 2017, University of St Andrews

Quantifying population change and visualising species occurrence Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation 2017 Conference, Aberdeen, Scotland


Out of sight, out of mind: conservation issues in the Australian Outback
          BIOSPHERE 23, 17-24 (opinion piece)
Curiosity Forest, Explorathon Edinburgh 2017, European Researchers’ Night
          Interactive event bringing engaging adults and kids with research
Art-Science Collaboration, Edinburgh International Science Festival
          Еxhibition showcasing the beauty in Arctic research
Gardening Club leader and agro-ecology teacher, Trinity Academy
          Booklet on teaching agro-ecology and an original board game about plant interactions
Geoscience Outreach Graphic Design and Social Media Workshop Leader
          University of Edinburgh
Good teaching – co-authored with Isla Myers-Smith
Theory and high-level processes in the Arctic – co-authored with Isla Myers-Smith 
Coding Club – a positive peer-to-peer learning community
GeoScience Outreach: teaching science communication ‘beyond the programme’ and outside of the ‘Ivory Tower’
 – co-authored with Isla Myers-Smith
Theory, meta-analyses and stylised facts in ecology

The future of biodiversity indicators for conservation


Reviewer for Journal of Ecology, Methods in Ecology and Evolution and PLOS One
Student Rep in the College of Science and Engineering Training and Research Committee
British Ecological Society Quantitative Ecology Special Interest Group Training and Education Rep
Methods in Ecology and Evolution Peer-review scheme (participant)
Biodiversity Journal Club coordinator, University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh Ecology Network Social Media coordinator


2017 – ongoing Royal Society of Biology
2015 – ongoing British Ecological Society
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
2008 – ongoing Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds