William Foley

Group membership

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 in Finland. While traveling in Congo he saw some monkeys eating “poisonous plants” and abandoned water for the trees by way of a PhD in nutritional ecology of leaf eating marsupials back at UNE (1985). Postdocs in Israel (lizards), French Guiana (sloths) and Monash (marsupials) preceded a lecturing position at James Cook University in 1990. He moved to ANU in 1997 and has continued work on interactions between poisonous plants and animals with a very wide focus including animal ecology and physiology, chemical ecology, remote sensing and population & molecular genetics. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Chemical Ecology and Chemoecology and is Chair of the Science Advisory Board of the Canadian White Spruce Genome project ("SMarTForests").

Research interests

The broad aim of our research is to understand the ecology & evolution of interactions between plants and animals in the Australian biota. We span a broad range of disciplines, from physiology and analytical chemistry to molecular and quantitative genetics, from the individual to the landscape scale and focus on both animals and plants.

Recent grants

  • 2011 Foley, Moran, Gershenzon: Improving production of essential oils from Australian trees. ARC Linkage.
  • 2010 Foley: Genetic markers for yield improvement in tea tree. Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation
  • 2009 Wallis & Foley: Re-evaluating the role of tannins in Australian forest ecosystems. ARC Discovery
  • 2008 Foley, Moran & Gershenzon: How do ecologically significant complex traits evolve in natural populations? ARC Discovery.

Selected publications

Recently published, or in press

  • Myburg AA, Grattapaglia D, Tuskan GA et al  (2014) (+65 authors including Kulheim C, Foley WJ (2014) Genome sequence of Eucalyptus grandis: A global tree crop for fiber and energy. Nature
  • 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
  • Marsh KJ, Moore BD, Wallis IR, Foley WJ (2014) Continuous monitoring of feeding by koalas highlights diurnal differences in tree preferences. Wildlife Research
  • 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 doi: 10.1007/s00442-013-2808-3.

Selected papers (2013/2014)

  • 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
  • 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
  • Windley HR, Wallis IR, DeGabriel JL, Moore BD, Johnson CN, and Foley WJ (2013) A new faecal index of diet quality predicts reproductive success in a marsupial folivore. Oecologia 173:203-12.
  • 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
  • Webb HO, Lanfear R, Hamill J, Foley WJ, and Kulheim C (2013) The yield of essential oils in Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae) is regulated through transcript abundance of genes in the MEP pathway. PLOS One 8:e60631
  • Forbey JS, Dearing MD, and Foley WJ (2013) Review: Vertebrate herbivores in terrestrial and aquatic systems: A “pharm-ecological” perspective. Journal of Chemical Ecology 39:465-80.

Selected publications 2005-2012

  • Kulheim, C., Yeoh, S.H., Wallis, I.R., Laffan, S., Moran, G.F. and Foley, W.J. (2011): The molecular basis of quantitative variation in foliar secondary metabolites in Eucalyptus globulus. New Phytologist, 191, 1041-1053
  • 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.

All publications

Teaching positions
Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching – 1996.

Teaching Software
Teaching Software (with Dr Neil Jessop & Dr Andrew Illius, Edinburgh).