"My research interests focus on understanding the mechanisms driving invertebrate responses to future changes in climate and atmospheric conditions"
Centre for agri-environmental research
School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
University of Reading
The little things that run a polluted world (2021-2024)
This Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship investigates the effects of nitrogen oxides, from diesel exhaust, and ozone pollution on the interactions between above- and below-ground insects, with a particular focus on how belowground soil-dwelling herbivores, which are major primary consumers in many ecosystems, alter the behaviour of those aboveground.
In collaboration with the University of Torino (Italy) and Koppert (Netherlands), this EIT-food-funded project used new integrated pest management techniques to reduce pesticide residues in strawberry and apple production.
DOMINO stands for Degradation of Odour signals by air pollution: chemical Mechanisms, plume dynamics and INsect-Orientation behaviour
In collaboration with Dr Robbie Girling (University of Reading; UoR), Dr Christian Pfrang (UoR), Dr Ben Langford (Centre of Ecology & Hydrology; CEH), Dr Eiko Nemitz (CEH) and Dr Michael Birkett (Rothamsted Research), my role in this project focussed on understanding how air pollution can alter insect behaviour and the ecological consequences of these changes, with a focus on pollination services.
Get tough, get toxic or get a bodyguard
Supervised by Dr Scott Johnson and Dr Ben Moore, this Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded project aimed to: (i) integrate belowground herbivory into the optimal defence theory framework by considering various above- and below-ground chemical and physical defences against herbivory across a range of grasses, and (ii) identify the underlying reasons for different root defensive strategies employed.
Grasses are relatively tolerant of above-ground herbivory but usually also fight back using a variety of mechanisms, including:
1. Toughness (direct physical defence)
2. Toxicity (direct chemical defence)
3. Bodyguards (indirect defence via recruitment of the herbivore's enemy)
Little was known about how roots are defended against root herbivores as most research to date has focussed on above-ground defences. We investigated the underlying reasons for the different root defensive strategies employed, with potential implications for the management of grasslands, which represent one of Australia's most threatened habitats.
PAST RESEARCH OVERVIEW
Australia, Wales, Scotland, Madagascar
Cleanfruit: Providing standardisation of innovative pest control strategies to produce fruit with zero pesticide residues
Postdoctoral Research 2020-2021
EIT food grant
University of Reading, UK
Does air pollution inhibit the recruitment of plant bodyguards?
Postdoctoral Research 2019-2020
British Ecological Society large research grant
University of Reading, UK
DOMINO: Degradation of Odour signals by air pollution: chemical Mechanisms, plume dynamics and INsect-Orientation behaviour
Postdoctoral Research 2018-2020
University of Reading, UK
Get tough, get toxic or get a bodyguard
Postdoctoral Research 2016-2017
Australian Research Council grant
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Australia
Silicon-based grass defences extend up the food chain
British Ecological Society small research grant 2016
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Australia
The impacts of climate change and belowground herbivory on aphids via primary metabolites
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2012-2016
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Sydney, Australia
Determinants of invasiveness: the effects of grazing, nutrient availability, disturbance and seed-predating soil fauna on the invasion success of tree mallow, Lavatera arborea
Masters of Research (MRes) 2010-2011
Cardiff University, Wales in collaboration with The University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Population genetic diversity and differentiation in the Chinese bamboo rat (Rhizomys sinensis) using microsatellite markers
Undergraduate Final Year Research Project 2009-2010
Cardiff University, Wales
Malagasy skinks: an investigation into weather and habitat preference in the Analamazaotra Forest Station Reserve
Undergraduate Professional Training Year (PTY) 2008-2009
Association Mitsinjo, Andasibe, Madagascar
Johnson SN, Crotty FV, Ryalls JMW, Murray, PJ (2018). Belowground Experimental Approaches for Exploring Aboveground-Belowground Patterns. In: Ohgushi T, Wurst S, Johnson SN (eds) Aboveground-Belowground Community Ecology. Ecological Studies (Analysis and Synthesis), vol 234. Springer, Cham.
Ryalls JMW, Harrington R (2016). Climate and Atmospheric Change Impacts on Aphids as Vectors of Plant Diseases. In: Johnson SN, Jones TH (eds) Global Climate Change and Terrestrial Invertebrates. Oxford, UK: Wiley.
Johnson SN, Ryalls JMW, Staley JT (2016). Impacts of Atmospheric and Precipitation Change on Aboveground–Belowground Invertebrate Interactions. In: Johnson SN, Jones TH (eds) Global Climate Change and Terrestrial Invertebrates. Oxford, UK: Wiley.
Langford B, Ryalls JMW, Mullinger N, Hayden P, Nemitz E, Pfrang, C, Robins A, Touhami D, Bromfield LM, Girling RD (2023). Mapping the effects of ozone pollution and mixing on floral odour plumes and their impact on plant-pollinator interactions. Environmental Pollution, 336: 122336.
Ryalls JMW, Gherlenda AN, Rowe RC, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2023). Silicon supplementation and jasmonate activation synergistically increase phenolic defences against a legume herbivore. Journal of Ecology, Online Early.
Ryalls JMW, Bromfield LM, Bell L, Jasper J, Mullinger NJ, Blande JD, Girling RD (2022). Concurrent anthropogenic air pollutants enhance recruitment of a specialist parasitoid. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 289: 20221692.
Ryalls JMW, Staton T, Mullinger N, Bromfield LM, Langford B, Pfrang C, Nemitz E, Blande JD, Girling RD (2022). Ozone mitigates the adverse effects of diesel exhaust pollutants on ground-active invertebrates in wheat. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 10: 833088.
Ryalls JMW, Langford B, Mullinger N, Bromfield LM, Nemitz E, Pfrang C, Girling RD (2022). Anthropogenic air pollutants reduce insect-mediated pollination services. Environmental Pollution, 297: 118847.
Johnson SN, Hartley SE, Ryalls JMW, Frew A, Hall CR (2021). Targeted plant defense: silicon conserves hormonal defense signaling impacting chewing but not fluid‐feeding herbivores. Ecology, 102: e03250.
Reitmayer CM, Ryalls JMW, Farthing E, Jackson CW, Girling RD, Newman TA (2019). Acute exposure to diesel exhaust induces central nervous system stress and altered learning and memory in honey bees. Scientific Reports, 9, 5793.
Johnson SN, Ryalls JMW, Barton CVM, Tjoelker MG, Wright IJ, Moore BD (2019). Climate warming and plant biomechanical defences: silicon addition contributes to herbivore suppression in a pasture grass. Functional Ecology, 33, 587-596.
Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2018). Silicon uptake by a pasture grass experiencing simulated grazing is greatest under elevated precipitation. BMC Ecology, doi: 10.1186/s12898-018-0208-6.
Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Johnson SN, Connor M, Hiltpold I (2018). Root responses to domestication, precipitation and silicification: weeping meadow grass simplifies and alters toughness. Plant and Soil, doi: 10.1007/s11104-018-3650-5.
Kremer JMM, Nooten SS, Cook JM, Ryalls JMW, Barton CVM, Johnson SN (2018). Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations promote ant tending of aphids. Journal of Animal Ecology, doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12842.
Johnson SN, Lopaticki G, Aslam TJ, Barnett K, Frew A, Hartley SE, Hiltpold I, Ryalls JMW (2018). Dryland management regimes alter forest habitats and understory arthropod communities. Annals of Applied Biology, doi: 10.1111/aab.12419.
Johnson SN, Glauser G, Hiltpold I, Moore BD, Ryalls JMW (2018). Root herbivore performance suppressed when feeding on a jasmonate-induced pasture grass. Ecological Entomology, doi: 10.1111/een.12527.
Johnson SN, Ryalls JMW, Gherlenda AN, Frew A, Hartley SE (2018). Benefits from below: silicon supplementation maintains legume productivity under predicted climate change scenarios. Frontiers in Plant Science, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00202.
Ryalls JMW, Hartley SE, Johnson SN (2017). Impacts of silicon-based grass defences across trophic levels under both current and future atmospheric CO2 scenarios.
Biology Letters, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0912.
Johnson SN, Hartley SE and Ryalls JMW, Frew A, DeGabriel JL, Duncan M, Gherlenda A (2017). Silicon-induced root nodulation and synthesis of essential amino acids in a legume is associated with higher herbivore abundance. Functional Ecology, doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12893.
Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Riegler M, Bromfield LM, Hall AAG, Johnson SN (2017). Climate and atmospheric change impacts on sap-feeding herbivores: a mechanistic explanation based on functional groups of primary metabolites. Functional Ecology, 31, 161-171.
Johnson SN, Gherlenda AN, Frew A, Ryalls JMW (2016). The importance of testing multiple environmental factors in legume–insect research: replication, reviewers and rebuttal. Frontiers in Plant Science 7, 489, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00489.
Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Riegler M, Johnson SN (2016). Above–belowground herbivore interactions in mixed plant communities are influenced by altered precipitation patterns. Frontiers in Plant Science 7, 345, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00345.
Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Riegler M, Gherlenda AN, Johnson SN (2015). Amino acid-mediated impacts of elevated carbon dioxide and simulated root herbivory on aphids are neutralized by increased air temperatures. Journal of Experimental Botany 66, 613-623.
Johnson SN, Ryalls JMW, Karley AJ (2014). Global climate change and crop resistance to aphids: contrasting responses of lucerne genotypes to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. Annals of Applied Biology 165, 62-72.
Ryalls JMW, Riegler M, Moore BD, Lopaticki G, Johnson SN (2013). Effects of elevated temperature and CO2 on aboveground–belowground systems: a case study with plants, their mutualistic bacteria and root / shoot herbivores. Frontiers in Plant Science 4, 445.
Ryalls JMW, Riegler M, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2013). Biology and trophic interactions of lucerne aphids. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 15, 335-350.
CONFERENCES and PROCEEDINGS
Ryalls JMW, Mullinger N, Langford B, Nemitz E, Pfrang C, Girling RD (2022). Field-scale effects of elevated ozone and diesel exhaust emissions on insect pollination and natural enemy recruitment. Invited oral presentation at The XXVI International Congress of Entomology, Helsinki, Finland (17-22 July 2022).
Ryalls JMW, Langford B, Mullinger NJ, Bromfield LM, Nemitz M, Pfrang C, Girling RD (2021). Field-scale effects of elevated ozone and diesel exhaust emissions on insect pollination and natural enemy recruitment. Oral presentation at the International Society of Chemical Ecology (5-10 September 2021), Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Ryalls JMW, Mullinger NJ, Langford B, Nemitz M, Pfrang C, Blande J, Girling RD (2019). Field-scale effects of elevated ozone and diesel exhaust emissions on insect pollination and natural enemy recruitment. Oral presentation at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting (10-13 December 2019), Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Ryalls JMW, Johnson SN (2017). Legume pasture pest responses to global climate change. Proceedings of the Ninth Australasian Conference of Grassland Invertebrate Ecology, pp. 117-119. Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury, NSW, Australia.
Hiltpold I, Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Johnson SN. (2017) Recruitment of entomopathogenic nematodes toward Panicum bisulcatum roots damaged by scarab larvae. Proceedings of the Ninth Australasian Conference of Grassland Invertebrate Ecology, pp. 51-53. Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury, NSW, Australia.
Ryalls JMW, Hartley SE, Johnson SN (2016). Silicon and tri-trophic interactions. Oral presentation at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting (11-14 December 2016), Liverpool, UK.
Ryalls JMW, Moore BD, Riegler M, Johnson SN (2016). Aboveground–belowground interactions. Oral & poster presentations at the Ninth Australasian Conference of Grassland Invertebrate Ecology (4-7 April 2016), Western Sydney University, Australia.
Ryalls JMW, Riegler M, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2014). How climate change mediates belowground effects on aboveground aphids in lucerne. Proceedings of the 10th European Congress of Entomology (eds P. Smithers, D. George & J. Banfield-Zanin), pp. 45-46. The Royal Entomological Society, University of York, UK.
Ryalls JMW, Riegler M, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2014). Above, Below and Beyond: how climate change mediates interactions between above- and below-ground insects on lucerne. Oral presentation at 10th European Congress of Entomology in York, UK.
Ryalls JMW., Riegler M, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2014). Above-belowground interactions in lucerne. Poster presentation at 15th International Symposium on Insect-Plant Interactions, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Ryalls JMW, Riegler M, Moore BD, Johnson SN (2013). How does climate change mediate belowground effects on aboveground aphids in lucerne? Oral presentation at EcoTas13, New Zealand.
Ryalls JMW, Jones TH, Ross L, van der Wal R (2011). Determinants of tree mallow invasiveness. Poster presentation at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2011, Sheffield, UK.
GRANTS and AWARDS
University of Reading Research Output Prize 2023 (Agriculture, Food & Health research theme)
National Institute for Research into Dairying (NIRD) Trust funding (£52,000) to upgrade our Free-Air Diesel and Ozone Enrichment (FADOE) platform 
The Royal Society Research Grant (£20,000) to construct a novel air pollution facility [2022-2023]
"Mechanistic effects of air pollution on insect navigation"
The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (3 years) [2021-2024]
"The little things that run a polluted world"
British Ecological Society large research grant (£20,000) for research in ecology [2018-2019]
"Does air pollution inhibit the recruitment of plant bodyguards?"
British Ecological Society small research grant (£5,000) for research in ecology 
"Back to the future: how past, present and impending CO2 concentrations shape silicon-based defences in grasses"
E.A.Southee Award (AU$10,000) to Promote Excellence in Agricultural Research, Western Sydney University [2015-2016]
"Future-proofing Australian lucerne against the threats of climate change and invasive pests"
Sponsorship for the Ninth Australasian Conference on Grassland Invertebrate Ecology
4-7 April 2016, Hawkesbury, Australia
Best Photograph Award at the Ninth Australasian Conference of Grassland Invertebrate Ecology 4-7 April 2016, Hawkesbury, Australia
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) Postgraduate Research Scholarship [2012-2016]
HIE 2015 Jann Conroy Award for Outstanding Student's Presentation
HIE 2015 John Cairney Award for Outstanding Student's Publication
HIE 2014 Presentation Award - People's Choice
The Conversation, 22 September 2023
Wall Street Journal, 20 January 2022
Wired, 25 February 2022
New Scientist, 19 January 2022
ITV, 19 January 2022
Science News for Students, 23 February 2022
EOS, 18 February 2022
BBC Radio 4 Farming Today - Controlling agricultural pests
New Scientist, 15 March 2017
ECNS, 15 March 2017
The Earth Chronicle of Life, 17 March 2017
The first dedicated field-based facility ever built to facilitate investigations into the ecological impacts of combinations of air pollutants. The twelve 8 m diameter rings emit realistic quantities of diesel exhaust and ozone pollutants from perforated tubes surrounding the rings. Three of the rings are assigned to each of four treatments – ambient control (C), ozone (O3), diesel exhaust (D) and diesel exhaust and ozone combined (D+O3).
Royal Society-funded air pollution chambers with interchangeable olfactometer and flight arena - glass air pollution chambers are represented by filled grey circles. V = vacuum pump, P = air pump, G = ozone generator, N = NOx cylinder. Tenax tubes can be connected to lines going into the arena to sample VOCs and their reaction products. NOx and O3 analysers can be connected to lines going into the arena to sample and maintain NOx and O3 concentrations.
Cane beetle larvae eating Microlaena root
Sitona discoideus larva and eggs
Hawkesbury Forest Experiment, Richmond, NSW, Australia
Hawkesbury Campus, Western Sydney University
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