allyAlly Phillimore

I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in inferring process from pattern, usually from the viewpoint of large spatial or temporal scales. My areas of interest include macroevolution, island biogeography and phenology, with the latter now my main focus. In my work, I use phenology as a means to study species’ ecological and evolutionary responses to climate change.

Contact: albert.phillimore (at)


jarrodJarrod Hadfield

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)

jamesJames Nicholls

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)

jackJack Shutt

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)

dagmarDagmar Der Weduwen

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.

Field assistants


katKat Keogan

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)

gerganaGergana Daskalova

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)

tomThomas Brown

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.

kirstyKirsty Macphie

I had an amazing time working on the transect in 2016. My main research interests fall within ecology and evolutionary biology, focusing on the interactions between trophic levels and the environmental conditions they are exposed too.

2015 – 2017

ireneIrene Benedicto

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.


edEdward Ivimey-Cook

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.