Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Dr Gail Jackson

Department / group: School of Geosciences
Personal URL: N/a
Google Scholar URL: N/A

Research interests:

Agricultural Ecology
My personal research has two themes:
– Investigation of pesticide resistant aphids. In fields sprayed with pesticide these aphids are at a competitive advantage compared to pesticide susceptible aphids, but my research has discovered that they are at a large competitive disadvantage compared with aphids in fields (or semi-natural environments) which are not sprayed. The resistant aphids have much slower population and individual growth rates and are much more susceptible to predators e.g. parasitoid wasps. This increases the potential for biocontrol of these organisms and I have shown that resistant aphids are more likely to be mummified than those which are susceptible. The resistant aphids also appear to respond less well to the aphid alarm pheromone ((E)-β-farnesene), which is released by aphids in response to a threat, for example the presence of a predator. The pheromone is used to warn con-specifics to instigate defensive behaviour to reduce the chance of predation. Use of synthetic alarm pheromone in combination with parasitoid wasps in Integrated Pest Management programmes is the eventual aim.

– Investigation of pollinator resources in an early season forage. This spring I have collected nectar and pollen from a range of oilseed rape varieties planted in a Recommended List trial at Boghall Farm. The quantity and quality of amino acids in these resources is crucial for pollinator success early in the spring, and I secured a small grant from the Scottish Society for Crop Research to fund analysis. This will happen as soon as the research labs re-open.

Career history:

All roles since gaining my PhD have been at the University of Edinburgh
November 1991 – April 1998: Three post-doctoral research contracts
April 1998 – March 2006: Employed 0.5 FTE on a series of one year teaching only contracts (I had three children during this time).
01/03/06 – 31/07/19: Employed 0.5 FTE on an open ended teaching and research contract. Lecturer (Grade 8).
01/08/19 – date: Employed 0.7 FTE. Senior Lecturer (Grade 9).

Active research projects:

In addition to the two projects described above I am actively involved in the research undertaken by my four PhD students. All of which is Agricultural Ecology:

Stace Fairhurst: ‘Oilseed rape and pollinators: the impact of variety on resource availability and pollination resilience.’

Aaron Hoyle: ‘Understanding the components of specific weight in barley grains.’

Robyn Earl: ‘Ecological Focus Areas in the delivery of ecosystem services in arable systems.’

Aisling Moffat: ‘Identifying the role of the soil microbiome in the occurrence and potential control of Leatherjackets (Tipula spp.)’

I have two new students starting in September 2020:
Apithanny Bourne: ‘Using unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor pollinator assemblages.’

Katy Dainton: ‘Enhancing Integrated Pest Management in Forestry’.

Recent publications:

1. Muhammad nor, S. M., Huxham, M., Salmon, Y., Duddy, S. J., Mazars-Simon, A., Mencuccini, M., Meir, P. and Jackson, G.E. (2019). Exceptionally high mangrove root production rates in the Kelantan Delta, Malaysia; an experimental and comparative study. Forest Ecology and Management 444 214 – 224
2. Hoyle, A., Brennan, M., Jackson, G. & Hoad, S. (2019). Specific weight of barley grains is determined by traits affecting packing efficiency and by grain density. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 99 2548 – 2555
3. Hoyle, A., Brennan, M., Jackson, G. E. & Hoad, S. (2019). Increased grain density of spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is associated with an increase in grain nitrogen. Journal of Cereal Science 89 102797.
4. Jackson G.E., Malloch G., McNamara L. and Little D. (2020). Grain aphids (Sitobion avenae) with knockdown resistance (kdr) to insecticide exhibit fitness trade-offs, including increased vulnerability to the natural enemy Aphidius ervi. Plos One (in press).
5. Hoyle, A., Brennan, M., Pitts, N., Jackson, G.E. & Hoad, S. (2020). Relationship Between Specific Weight of Spring Barley and Malt Quality. Journal of Cereal Science (in press).

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