GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
Tenure since 2017
Attributing biodiversity change to global change drivers
Gergana’s research project aims to quantify the effects of land use change on global and local patterns of species richness, abundance and composition, and develop an innovative computational framework to facilitate answering fundamental questions in ecology using big data and global synthesis of long-term observations.
Understanding how biodiversity varies through time and space is paramount for spearheading novel solutions to global challenges posed by growing human populations and increased pressure on natural environments. Changes in land use practices have profoundly altered ecological communities around the world, resulting in global declines in both species abundance and richness. Nevertheless, anthropogenic modifications of the landscape have also facilitated the dispersal and recruitment of new species into ecosystems, thus creating a dynamic and complex network of biodiversity gains and losses.
In particular, Gergana will investigate whether: 1) changes in species richness, abundance and composition can be attributed to land use change over recent decades, 2) land intensification and land abandonment are both causing species homogenisation, and 3) biodiversity change processes are more pronounced in areas of high land use change rates. Understanding how global change drivers, such as land intensification and abandonment, are influencing ecosystems around the world is vital for facilitating international policy regulations to inform conservation measures and safeguard ecosystem functionality.
Gergana’s academic interests include quantitative ecology, global change ecology and conservation science, as well as the teaching and development of strong statistics and coding skills among people at all career stages. She graduated at the top of her class at the University of Edinburgh with a BSc Ecological and Environmental Sciences, and completed a year abroad at the University of Queensland in Australia. Gergana is leading a peer-to-peer learning initiative at the University of Edinburgh, called Coding Club (https://ourcodingclub.github.io/), aiming to foster a positive and supportive learning environment by combining in-person workshops and online tutorials. Gergana is also passionate about science communication and outreach, which she has been promoting by writing popular science articles and blog posts, as well as coordinating outreach initiatives (https://gndaskalova.com/outreach/).
Personal website: https://gndaskalova.com/
Coding Club: https://ourcodingclub.github.io/