Foley Lab - Animal-Plant interactions

Brushtail possum foraging

The aim of our research is to understand the ecology & evolution of interactions between plants and animals in the Australian biota and in particular the interactions between marsupial folivores and Eucalyptus.  We span a broad range of disciplines, from animal physiology and analytical chemistry to molecular and quantitative genetics and large scale genomics.  We work at scales from the individual to the landscape and with the focus on both animals and plants.



William Foley

William Foley
Bill Foley obtained a B. Nat Res (Hons) in 1978 (UNE) and worked for several years in water and land management in the NT and...

Adjunct Fellow

Honours Student

PhD Student

Postdoctoral Scientist

Research Assistant

Research Officer

Visiting Fellow


Selected publications (PDFs at Researchgate)

Recently published, in press or coming soon!

  • Ganzhorn JU Arrigo-Nelson, S....Foley WJ. (2016) The importance of protein in leaf selection of folivorous primates. American Journal of Primatology DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22550
  •  Windley HR, Wigley HJ, Ruscoe WA, Foley WJ, Marsh KJM (2016) The use of polyethylene glycol in mammalian herbivore diet studies: what are we measuring? . Journal of Chemical Ecology DOI: 10.1007/s10886-016-0709-8
  • Vance CK, Tolleson DR, Kinoshita  K,  Rodriguez J, Foley WJ (2016) Review: Near infrared spectroscopy in wildlife and biodiversity, Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy.  24: 1-25
  • Windley, H., M. Baron, P. Holland, D. Starrs, W. Ruscoe, and W. J. Foley 2016. Foliar nutritional quality explains patchy browsing by invasive common brushtail possums in New Zealand. PLoS One 11(5):e0155216 
  • Bustos-Segura C, Külheim C, Foley W (2015) Effects of terpene chemotypes of Melaleuca alternifolia on two specialist leaf beetles and susceptibility to myrtle rust. Journal of Chemical Ecology 41:937-947
  • Kainer DK, Foley WJ, Külheim C (2015) Genomic approaches to selection in outcrossing perennials: focus on essential oil crops. Theoretical and Applied Genetics  10.1007/s00122-015-2591-0

Selected publications 2013-2015

  • Moore, B. D., N. L. Wiggins, K. Marsh, M. D. Dearing, and W. J. Foley. 2015. Translating physiological signals to behavioural changes in feeding behaviour in mammals and the future effect of global climate change. Animal Production Science 55:272 - 283

  • Myburg AA, Grattapaglia D, Tuskan GA et al  (2014) (+65 authors including Kulheim C, Foley WJ) (2014) The genome of Eucalyptus grandis. Nature 510 (7505):356-62. 

  • Külheim C, Padovan A, Hefer C, Krause ST, Köllner TG, A Myburg AA,  Degenhardt J, Foley WJ (2015) The Eucalyptus terpene synthase gene family. BMC Genomics 16, 450

  • Moore BD, Andrew RL, Kulheim C,  Foley WJ, (2014). Tansley Review: Explaining intraspecific diversity in plant secondary metabolites in an ecological context. New Phytologist. 201:733–750

  • DeGabriel JL, Moore BD, Ganzhorn JU, Stolter C, Wallis IR, Foley WJ, (2013). Translating nutritional ecology from the laboratory to the field: milestones in linking plant chemistry to population regulation in mammalian browsers. Oikos. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00727.x

  • Marsh KJ, Moore, BD, Wallis IR, Foley WJ (2014) Feeding rates of a mammalian browser confirm the predictions of a “foodscape” model of its habitat. Oecologia 174: 873-882

Selected publications 2005-2013

  • Au J, Wallis IR, Ford KJ, Foley WJ (2013) Whole body protein turnover as an estimate of costs of detoxification of secondary metabolites in a browsing mammal. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 183:993-1003

  • Padovan A, Lanfear R, Keszei A, Foley WJ, and Külheim C (2013) Intra-individual differences in gene expression within a striking phenotypic mosaic Eucalyptus tree. BMC Plant Biology 13:29

  • Moles, A.T., Wallis, I.R., Foley, W.J. and others. (2011): Putting plant defences on the map: a test of the idea that plants are better defended at lower latitudes. New Phytologist, 191: 777-7

  • Moore BD, Lawler IR, R. WI, Beale C, Foley WJ (2010) Palatability mapping: a koala's eye view of spatial variation in habitat quality. Ecology 91: 3165–3176.

  • Keszei A, Brubaker CL, Carter R, Kollner T, Degenhardt J, Foley WJ (2010) Functional and evolutionary relationships between terpene synthases from Australian Myrtaceae. Phytochemistry 71, 844-852.

  • Felton AM, Felton A, Raubenheimer D, Simpson SJ, Foley WJ, Wood JT, Wallis IR, Lindenmayer DB (2009) Protein content of diets dictates the daily energy intake of a free-ranging primate. Behavioral Ecology 20, 685-690.

  • Degabriel JL, Moore BD, Foley WJ, Johnson CN (2009) The effects of plant defensive chemistry on nutrient availability predict reproductive success in a mammal. Ecology 90, 711-719.

  • Marsh KJ, Wallis IR, McLean S, Sorensen JS, Foley WJ (2006) Conflicting demands on detoxification pathways influence how common brushtail possums choose their diets. Ecology 87, 2103-2112.

  • Moore BD, Foley WJ (2005) Tree use by koalas in a chemically complex landscape. Nature 435, 488-490.

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Konzo Eradication

There is a crippling disease slowly spreading through central Africa. It's called Konzo and overnight it attacks - mainly young women and children - so that in the morning your legs are irreversibly paralysed.

Preventing the scourge of Konzo

Tackling one of tropical Africa's crippling epidemic diseases has been an interesting and demanding retirement project, as Howard Bradbury AM writes.

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