I was born in 1972 in the east-Bulgarian town of Karnobat and had the good fortune to grow up in the small town of Smolyan at an altitude of about 1000 m in the Rhodopi Mountains near the border with Greece. I began collecting butterflies in 1985 and am still keeping at it, if in a more scientific way. My father got me interested in amateur photography when I was a boy, but it was not until 1998-1999 that I got good enough equipment for photographing butterflies. Since 1993 I reside in Finland, where this year I am completing my Master's in ecology and systematic zoology. I am married and have two sons, Leo (b. 2000) and Alex (b. 2005) who promise to follow in my tracks, if their fascination with my boxes of butterflies and photograhic equipment is anything to go by.
My current research interests centre on taxonomy,ecology and conservation of Palearctic Lycaenidae, particularly the genera Glaucopsyche (Maculinea) and Plebeius in the broadest sense (as used here). In addition to using traditional taxonomic methods such as identifying morphological variation discontinuities and qualitative genital differences, I am also exploring the possibilities offered by karyology (the study of chromosomes) and quantitative (statistical) analysis of genitalial parameters. Another field of intense interest for me is biogeography with respect to the origin of the present-day Balkan butterfly fauna and especially its fascinating endemic taxa. Besides butterflies I am interested in, although at present not actively researching, moths of the families Noctuidae, Sesiidae and Zygaenidae; in fact my first species new to Bulgaria was the Noctuid Chersotis anatolica (Draudt, 1936).
My studies on Bulgarian butterflies have led since 1993 to the discovery of five species (Euchloe penia, Plebeius nephohiptamenos, P. aroaniensis, P. andronicus, and Muschampia cribrellum) as new to Bulgaria, all but the last-mentioned collected by myself. In addition my research on a taxonomically difficult group of Lycaenidae, called popularly the brown Agrodiaetus, have resulted in the discovery and description of the Bulgarian endemic Plebeius orphicus (Kolev, 2005); another new taxon will be described shortly. Some other significant results in butterfly taxonomy, systematics and ecology include 1) the confirmation of the species status of the lycaenids Plebeius dardanus (Kolev, in print) and the Balkan endemic Plebeius andronicus; 2) the establishing of larval host-plants for Glaucopsyche rebeli and Plebeius idas baldur which is of significance in determining the taxonomic status of these taxa; 3) a discovery of an ecologically unusual (xerothermic) locality for the normally hygrophilous Brenthis ino; 4) the first studies on the habitat preference of the very rare and endangered Glaucopsyche nausithous in Bulgaria, leading to the realization that these widely isolated populations apparently have a previously unrecorded ant host; and 5) the discovery of two new populations of the very local and rare Pararge climene and detailed study of its behaviour and habitat preferences. For more details, see my List of publications.