I am an evolutionary ecologist and my interests include macroevolution, island biogeography and phenology, with the latter my main focus. By studying phenology we can look at how climate (especially temperature) affects interactions between species, fitness and population trends. Working on the phenoweb transect I really enjoy seeing spring progress or recede before your eyes in a single day as you travel from site to site.
Contact: albert.phillimore (at) ed.ac.uk
(Postdoctoral research associate)
I am interested in the evolutionary pressures caused by anthropogenically induced climate warming in an ecological context. My research revolves around phenology, the seasonal occurrence of biological events, from the unfurling of tree buds to the appearance of the first bird egg. I study processes both within (interspecific competition and information) and among (diet and mismatch) different levels of the food chain. For example, during my PhD in Groningen, the Netherlands, I found that European tits and flycatchers breeding in the same habitats respond differently to climate warming, and that this can have knock on-effects on competition and information use between them. For my postdoc at the University of Edinburgh, I study optimal reproduction of the blue tit in relation to temperature across time and space. For example, I am currently investigating how timing and food availability affect the blue tit nestling diet across the breeding season, and how diet choice affects reproductive success. Working as an ecologist as part of the Phenoweb team across Scotland is a dream come true for me. Watching life unfold over springtime across a large variety of deciduous habitats with stunning views of the Cairngorms is a truly invigorating experience.
Contact: j.m.samplonius (at) ed.ac.uk
(NERC E3 PhD from 2018)
I had an excellent time working on the transect as a field assistant in 2017 and 2018, starting a PhD with the group in late 2018. My main research interests fall within ecology and evolutionary biology, focusing on the interactions between trophic levels and the environmental conditions they are exposed to. During my PhD, I will investigate phenological match/mismatch in blue tits and whether spatial and temporal variation in the caterpillar food resource impacts their breeding success.
Contact: K.H.MacPhie (at) sms.ed.ac.uk
I am an evolutionary biologist working mainly in the area of quantitative genetics; the study of inheritance, selection and evolution of complex traits. I use a combination of theory, statistical inference and experimentation in order to address questions regarding the form of natural selection and the nature of heritable variation. Most of my empirical work is carried out on wild populations of bird, but my theoretical and statistical work covers a broader taxonomic range.
Contact: j.hadfield (at) ed.ac.uk
I am a NERC-funded PhD student in the Phillimore group at the University of Edinburgh working on woodland ecology and phenology and helped set up this 220km transect across Scotland. With it I hope to address broad questions around how habitat and biogeography affect caterpillar abundance/diversity and blue tit productivity, as well as what predicts spatial and temporal variation in blue tit reproductive phenology. We are also metabarcoding faeces from adult blue tits across this transect to ascertain how dietary alpha- and beta- diversity vary geographically and by habitat and whether there is any dietary cue utilised to initiate reproductive phenology.
Contact: Jack.Shutt (at) ed.ac.uk
I am an evolutionary ecologist who uses molecular tools to address questions about interactions among species. I have worked on a range of systems and data, including examining the causes of vocal variation in Australian bowerbirds, reconstructing phylogenetic and population genetic histories of oak gallwasps and their associated parasitoids, using genomic data to examine speciation processes in an Amazonian plant radiation, and employing DNA barcoding to identify species within insect communities. For the blue tit project, I am using high-throughput DNA sequencing and metabarcoding techniques to examine the diet of blue tit adults and chicks. I extract DNA from faecal samples, then amplify and sequence short stretches of genes within mitochondrial and plastid genomes. This allows us to identify invertebrate prey as well as any plant material (including seeds from garden feeders) that the birds have been eating.
Contact: james.nicholls (at) ed.ac.uk
Kat Keogan (2017, 2018, 2019)
Working on the transect is brilliant. I love the diversity of each site, and watching spring arrive day by day is a real treat. It’s so exciting to arrive at a site to check how the season has progressed and find that buds have burst on a new tree species or that there are new eggs in a nest.
Studying phenology in a woodland ecosystem is fascinating because you can collect detailed information across all trophic levels. This makes the transect a great system to help us understand the underlying mechanisms of community dynamics, and the response of organisms to environmental change at all levels of the food web. I’m particularly interested in phenological changes on a broad spatial scale, and looking at how ecosystem dynamics change across a spectrum of conditions and environments.
Contact: K.Keogan (at) ed.ac.uk
Megan Stamp (2018, 2019)
After graduating with a degree in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Edinburgh in 2018, I spent a week working on the transect, before returning in 2019 as a field assistant. My main interests are the effects of climate change on both community interactions and species distributions. I loved working on the transect and watching spring progress throughout the season, and found it particularly interesting to see the phenological differences between sites. I am starting a masters in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Groningen, and look forward to further studying a variety of aspects of how ecosystems are being affected by climate change, and ways to predict future species distributions and interactions.
Jess Clark (2019)
Sometimes, I am a post-doctoral researcher, addressing matters of epidemiology and human health with mathematical modelling. The rest of the time I like to be outside, climbing hills and riding bikes. This made joining the Phenoweb team for the 2019 season the perfect post-Ph.D. recovery! Watching spring unfold along the length of the country was truly a delight. It also reminded me how much I love field work and reignited previous research interests!
Dagmar Der Weduwen (2017, 2018)
I am a fourth year Ecology student, working on an Honours project concerning blue tit nest insulation and composition. My main interests in ecology lie in plant-animal interactions and the evolution of animal behaviour. I have previously assisted on the transect, as well as assisting on a PhD project about human behaviour and cooperation. Originally from the Netherlands, I have lived in Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Nairobi, and New York City before coming to Edinburgh. Travelling has given me a broad worldview and an appreciation of the work required globally to ensure the conservation of global biodiversity. In my spare time, I like to read, hike, and practice Muay Thai.
Joe Bliss (2018)
I graduated in Zoology found myself drawn to fieldwork. I am Ranger in New Zealand, carrying out biodiversity surveys in the backcountry for the Department of Conservation. I migrated back to join the fantastic team working on the Transect in 2018, probably the best way to experience the arrival of a Scottish summer!
Daniel Plunkett (2018)
I was thrilled to work as a field assistant on the transect, it allowed me to see some really beautiful locations across Scotland and watch these different deciduous woodlands come into their own as spring oh so slowly creeps into view, the summer migrants flooding back, the woodland ground flora emerging from their winter slumber.
I’m a keen naturalist, freelance field ecologist and a rather recent Sustainable Environmental Management graduate. Over the years I have been involved in a range of field work through both volunteering, as well as just from my own enjoyment. Primarily but not restricted, my experience has been avian focused. One of my recent experiences before starting the transect was volunteering during the autumn migration at a bird observatory, situated on a small Greek island, on a major migration route for Eastern European migrant species.
I was a field assistant on the transect in 2017, and I really enjoyed the fieldwork dynamics and getting a new appreciation of spring arrival and how birds and invertebrates track it. Now I am a PhD student with a research focus in global change ecology. I am interested in biodiversity change, global change drivers and agroecology. I am conducting an attribution analysis of biodiversity change on local and global scales to determine if land use change explains biodiversity trends. I also love teaching and coding. You can check out Coding Club for lots of R tutorials.
Contact: gndaskalova (at) gmail.com
Thomas Brown (2017)
I joined the transect as a research assistant for the 2017 field season. I am an avid birder. As part of my undergrad and master degrees in ecology at the University of East Anglia (UEA), I have been lucky enough to ring birds in exotic locations such as Peru, Brazil and the Seychelles. My research interests include behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology and farmland conservation. Currently I am doing a PhD at UEA, studying senescence in the Seychelles warbler. My research will contribute to our understanding of why individuals vary in their rate of biological ageing, with possible applications to human health.
Irene Benedicto (2015, 2016, 2017)
I am a field biologist specialising in biodiversity conservation, after having graduated in Spain. I have worked on different research projects across Europe, with birds the focus. I have a broad research interest that encompasses the fields of evolutionary biology, biogeography, behavioural ecology and principally, conservation biology. Recently, I have been working on bird migration issues. Nowadays, I am expanding my experience to interpret the natural environment to people, and I am keen to promote sustainability and engage people with the environment.
Edward Ivimey-Cook (2014)
I worked on the transect as a field assistant in 2014. My current work focuses on understanding evolutionary theory and maternal effect senescence. Specifically, I’m interested in how advancing maternal age affects offspring performance, mediated through altered pre- and post-natal maternal care. My research predominantly focuses on the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, but recently, I have been looking at maternal age effects in a wide variety of taxa.