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Graham Begg

Staff picture: Graham Begg
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Modeller
graham.begg@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1382 568817

The James Hutton Institute
Invergowrie
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK

 

Current research interests

My research is focused on the dynamics of natural and semi-natural populations, examining how they respond to changes in the arable environment and its management, and the impact of this on important ecosystem functions such as pest regulation, primary production and biodiversity.

I am a key staff member leading Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPM) research at the James Hutton Institute. For details of ongoing IPM research areas and projects, please visit the IPM@hutton website.

The impact of novel plants and genes

Volunteer and feral plants can cause significant weed problems and provide a bridge for the escape of genes and traits from cultivated populations. Transgenic (GM) herbicide tolerant oilseed rape has provided a model system to investigate the spread and persistence of a novel plant traits and genes via this bridge. Using a multidisciplinary approach to detect, estimate and predict the persistence and gene flow of a transgenic event, this research has been important in identifying the consequences of the introduction GM plants into arable cropping systems.

For example, early modelling results were the first to predict the long-term persistence of GM oilseed rape in the UK arable system, while we have also had a unique opportunity within Europe to monitor fields used for the commercial cultivation of GMHT oilseed rape. This allowed us to describe patterns of heterogeneity in the adventitious presence of GM material in commercial fields and seed lots, identifying this as the principle source of error in the quantification of GM contamination and as a promoter of the spread of the GM trait.

This work is continuing with the development of an individual based plant model which simulates the spread and persistence of novel traits and genes within a field population. In similar work on the potential for transgenic escape in alfalfa we have been developing models of feral alfalfa population dynamics in collaboration with researchers from Canada and the US. A recently published analysis of the model is helping us to understand whether feral alfalfa populations could become invasive in the road-side habitats and to identifying appropriate strategies for its control.

Weed diversity

Weeds play an important role in the arable system and understanding their potential for adaptation is key for predicting their response to changes in management and also the environment. By combining phenotyping with population genetic studies we have found evidence of an adaptive response in weed populations to crop management that leads to diversification through population differentiation. Again, we are able to combine the empirical and theoretical with the addition of an individual based weed model that will allow us to explore the evolutionary response of weeds to changing patterns of crop management and weed control, including the dynamics of herbicide tolerance.

Landscape agroecology 

The arable landscape is a dynamic combination of crop and semi-natural habitats. The response of populations and communities to this mosaic and its management is an increasing focus of my research. Since 2011 I have coordinated an international research effort into ecologically based strategies for Integrated Pest Management as a WP leader and Executive committee member of the €12 million EU project PURE. As part of this I lead a programme of research into the design of pest suppressive landscapes in which landscape ecology approaches are being used to explore the response of pests and natural enemy populations to crop and semi-natural habitat patterns.

Similar considerations are being extended to other parts of the arable ecosystem. For example in new project studying small mammal populations live trapping and molecular markers are used to identify population structure and patterns of habitat use, allowing us to predict the impact of future management, land use change on small mammal populations.

Current projects

  • 2011-2015: EU-PURE: Pesticide use and risk reduction in European farming systems with integrated pest management. European Commission (EU FP7). Total value £6,922,668
  • 2011-2015: AMIGA: Assessing and monitoring the impacts of genetically modified plants on agro-ecosystems. European Commission (EU FP7). Total value £4,798,370
  • 2010-2013: Virtual Balruddery – The Living Field project. Mylnefield Trust. Total value £14,729
  • 2009-2012: Legume-Futures: Legume-supported cropping systems for Europe. European Commission (EU FP7). Total value £2,379,000

Bibliography

  • Mitchell, C.; Hawes, C.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Birch, A.N.E.; Begg, G.; Karley, A. (2018) An agroecological approach for weed, pest and disease management in Rubus plantations., In: Graham, J. & Brennan, R. (eds.). Raspberry: Breeding, Challenges and Advances. Springer International Publishing, Cham, Chapter 5, pp63-81.
  • Squire, G.R.; Hawes, C.; Ianetta, P.P.M.; Karley, A.J.; Begg, G. (2016) Ecosystem services from croplands., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp24-25.

  • Kuhfuss, L.; Attalla, L.; Begg, G.; Hawes, C.; Gimona, A.; Lozada-Ellison, L.; Martinat, S.; McKeen, M.; Pakeman, R.; Roberts, M.; Zuta, A. (2021) Exploring alternative agrienvironmental payment schemes for arable land in Scotland, Online report
  • Rivington, M.; Duckett, D.; Burgess, P.; Begg, G.; Iannetta, P.; Hawes, C.; Stewart, D. (2021) PostCOVID19 land use options to achieve food security, healthy diets and a sustainable environment, Online
  • Rivington, M.; Duckett, D.; Iannetta, P.; Hawes, C.; Begg, G.; Polhill, G.; Loades, K.; Newton, A.; Aitkenhead, M.; Lozada-Ellison, L.; Neilson, R.; Gandossi, G.; Stewart, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D.; Udugbezi, E.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A.; Benton, T.; King, R., Burgess, P. (2021) An overview assessment of the COVID19 pandemic on the UK food and nutrition security, Online
  • Rivington, M.; Duckett, D.; P. Burgess; Begg, G.; Iannetta, P.; Hawes, C.; Stewart, D. (2021) PostCOVID19 land use options for healthy diets and environment Report on the opportunities and constraints of UK food and land management options in terms of production potential and environmental impacts T, Hutton website
  • Rivington, M.; King, R.; Duckett, D.; Iannetta, P.; G. Benton, T.; Burgess, P. J.; Hawes, C.; Wellesley, L.; Polhill, G.; Aitkenhead, M.; Lozada-Ellison, L. M.; Begg, G.; Williams, A. G.; Newton, A.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A.; Neilson, R.; Watts, C. (2021) UK Food and nutrition security during and after the COVID19 pandemic Project Report and Recommendations, On the institute, project website: https://www.hutton.ac.uk/research/projects/uk-food-and-nutrition-security-during-and-after-covid-19-pandemic
  • Kuhfuss, L.; Piras, S.; Flanigan, S.; Hawes, C.; Begg, G. (2019) Pro-environmental practices among farmers at a landscape scale: why and how? An interdisciplinary review of the literature., Report for RESAS (143b, deliverable D6), Interdisciplinary Review of Existing Landscape Scale Interventions Delivering multiple Benefits, 37pp.
  • Iannetta, P.P.M.; Begg, G.; Black, K.; Hawes, C.; Karley, A.j.; James, E.K.; Maluk, M.; Newton, A.; Squire, G.R.; Walker, G.; White, P. (2017) Teaming up for good: intercropping and farming-science partnership at the James Hutton Institute., NGO Report for www.LEAF.org, 8 November 2017.
  • Iannetta, P.P.M.; Begg, G.; Black, K.; Hawes, C.; Karley, A.J.; James, E.K.; Maluk, M.; Newton, A.C.; Squire, G.R.; Walker, G.; White, P.J. (2017) Sustainable legume systems for improved primary produce., SAB Annual Report, May 2017.
  • Squire, G.R.; Begg. G.S.; Quesada, N. (2017) Land use distribution map., In: Crowe, B. Good Food Stirling, Nourish Scotland Report, p17.
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Brooker, R.; Pakeman, R.J.; Ellis, C.; George, T.; Iason, G.; Gilbert, L.; Artz, R,.R.E.; Irvine, R.J.; McVittie, A.; Newey, S.; Mitchell, R.; Gimona, A.; Fischer, A.; Begg, G.; Maxwell, J. (2017) Ecosystems and Land Use Stakeholders Engagement Group (ELSEG) Workshop Report., Workshop, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, 20 November 2017.
  • Brooker, R.; Aalders, I.H.; Ballingall, K.; Begg, G.; Birch, A.N.E.; Elliott, G.; Ellis, C.; Freitag, T.; Hawes, C.; Holland, J.; Holmes, B.; Hough, R.L.; Karley, A.; McCracken, D.; Mitchell, R.; Stockan, J.; Zadoks, R.; Albon, S.A.; Hester, A.J.; Pakeman, R.J. (2013) Biotic and biophysical underpinning of ecosystem services in the Scottish context: a review., Published online as an outputs from WP 1.1 of the Ecosystem Services Theme of the SRP.
  • Squire, G.R.; Begg, G.S.; Hawes, C.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; James, E.K.; Karley, A.J.; Young, M.W. (2011) Scotland's wild arable plants., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2010, pp21-23.
  • Iannetta, P.P.M.; Begg, G.S.; Wishart, J.; Young, M.W.; Karley, A.J.; Valentine, T.A.; Hawes, C.; Squire, G.R. (2006) Common wild plants as biodiversity indicators., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2006, pp42-43.
  • Squire, G.R.; Hawes, C.; Begg, G.S.; Elliott, M.J.; Parish, A.M.; Young, M.W.; Iannetta, P.P.M. (2004) Persistence of GM herbicide-tolerant plants., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2003/2004, pp167-168.
  • Newton, A.C.; Bengough, A.G. ;Begg, G.S.; Swanston, J.S.; Hawes, C. (2003) The role and importance of canopy heterogeneity., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2002/2003, pp125-127.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Begg, G.S.; Brennan, R.M.; Fenton, B.; Gordon, S.C.; Griffiths, B.S.; Griffiths, D.W.; Hillier, J.; Malloch, G.; Squire, G.R.; Wheatley, R.E. (2002) Developing sustainable pest management strategies for a changing future., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2001/2002, pp184-189.

  • Kuhfuss, L.; Piras, S.; Flanigan, S.; Hawes, C.; Begg, G. (2021) How to promote the collective uptake of agri-environmental schemes by farmers? A literature review., Landscape 2021 Conference: Diversity for Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture, 20-22 September 2021, online presentation.
  • Karley, A.J.; Graham, J.; Mitchell, C.; Williams, C.; Mitchell, D.; Jennings, N.; Dolan, A.; McFarlane, S.; Prashar, A.; Begg, G.; Birch, A.N.E. (2018) IPM tools for pest and disease management in raspberry plantations., Crop Protection in Northern Britain 2018: The Dundee Conference, Environmental Management and Crop Production, Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee, 27-28 February 2018. Conference Proceedings, pp55-58.
  • Karley, A.J.; Mitchell, C.; Hawes, C.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Banks, G.; Ford, L.; Young, M.; Quesada, N.; Begg, G. (2017) Aphid infestations and biocontrol in cereal crops in Scotland: effects of winter cropping across three regions., 7th Meeting of the IOBC/WPRS Working Group Landscape Management for Functional Biodiversity in Conjunction with a British Ecological Society Agricultural Ecology Special Interest Group Meeting, Dundee, 29-31 March 2017. Landscape management for functional biodiversity IOBC-WPRS Bulletin, 122, 90-93.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Begg, G.S.; Hawes, C.; Squire, G.R. (2016) IPM research into practice; a long time coming., The Dundee Conference: Crop Protection in Northern Britain 2016, Dundee, 23-24 February 2016, pp15-16.
  • Iannetta, P.P.M.; Begg, G.; James, E.K.; Smith, B.; Davies, C.; Karley, A.J.; Lopez del Egido, L.; Hawes, C.; Young, M.; Ramsay, G.; Birch, A.N.E.; Valentine, T.A.; Warburton-Brown, C.; Goldring, A.; Hughes, T.; Sprent, J.; Wolfe, M.; Rees, R.M. (2013) Sustainable intensification: a pivotal role for legume supported cropped systems., AAB/BeS-AeG Rethinking Farmed Systems in the UK, St. Catherine’s College University of Oxford, 18-19 December 2013. Co-organiser/Invited speaker. Aspects Applied Biology 121, 73-82.
  • Squire, G.R.; Begg, G.S.; Hawes, C.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Karley, A.J. (2012) Impacts of GMHT crops on biodiversity and ecosystem services., MEACB Meeting of the European Advisory Committee on Biosafety. Paris, France, 13-14 December 2012.
  • Squire, G.R.; Begg, G.S.; Hawes, C.; Iannetta, P.; Karley, A.J. (2012) Impacts of GMHT crops on biodiversity and ecosystem services., MEACB Meeting of the European Advisory Committee on Biosafety, Paris, France, 13-14 December 2012.
  • Begg, G.S.; Hawes, C.; Birch, A.N.E.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Squire, G.R.; Young, M.W. (2011) Managing landscape cropping patterns in support of arable biodiversity., Association of Applied Biologists - Agricultural Ecology Research: It's Role in Delivering Sustainable Farm Systems, Dundee, 15-16 June 2011 (Talk).
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Begg, G.S. (2011) Agroecology research and crop protection: How integrated pest management can help to deliver more sustainable farming systems and increase global food security., Aspects of Applied Biology, Agricultural Ecology Research: Its role in delivering sustainable farm systems, Dundee, 15-16 June 2011, 109, pp19-23.
  • Begg, G.S.; Birch, A.N.E.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Young, M.W.; Squire, G.R. (2010) Engineering arable landscapes to balance the pros and cons of weeds., IOBC/wprs Working Group Meeting - Landscape Management for Functional Biodiversity, Cambridge, 22 June - 1 July 2010.
  • Ivanovska, A.; Begg, G.S.; Todorovski, L.; Dzeroski, S. (2009) Equation-based models of oilseed rape population dynamics from an individual-based simulation model., Information Society. 12th International Multiconference, Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubliana, Slovenia, 11-15 October 2009.
  • Bagavathiannan, M.V.; Gulden, RH.; Begg, G.S.; Van Acker, R.C. (2009) The demography of feral alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) populations occurring in Southern Manitoba, Canada., Weed Science Society of America Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida, 9-13 February 2009.
  • Squire, G.R.; Hawes, C.; Begg, G.S.; Karley, A.J.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Young, M.W. (2008) Cumulative impacts of GM herbicide-tolerant cropping on arable plants assessed through species-based and functional taxonomies., Theorie in der Ekologie 14, Bremen, Germany, 2-4 April 2008.
  • Begg, G.S.; Elliott, M.J.; Iannetta, P.P.M.; Cullen, D.W.; Young, M.W.; Squire, G.R. (2007) Localised heterogeneity, gene flow and the persistence of transgenes from genetically modified oilseed rape., 3rd International Conference on Coexistence Between Genetically Modified (GM) and Non-GM based Agricultural Supply Chains, Seville, Spain, 20-21 November 2007, pp101-104.
  • Wishart, J.; Scriven, C.; Begg, G.S.; Neilson, R.; Valentine, T.A.; Squire, G.R.; Dale, M.F.B.; Iannetta, P.P.M. (2007) Nematode mediated Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) infection in time-to-flowering (TTF) variants of Capsella., Scottish Root Group, University of Aberdeen, 14 September 2007.
  • Wishart, J.; Scriven, C.; Begg, G.S.; Cullen, D.W.; Squire, G.R.; Dale, M.F.B.; Iannetta, P.P.M. (2007) Nematode mediated Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) infection in time-to-flowering (TTF) variants of Capsella., British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Glasgow, 10-12 September 2007.
  • Wishart, J.; Begg, G.S.; Young, M.W.; Hackett, C.A.; Squire, G.R.; Iannetta, P.P.M. (2007) Molecular biology and ecology of flowering-time variants of Capsella., British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Glasgow, 10-12 September 2007.
  • Newton, A.C.; Lyon, G.D.; Begg, G.S.; Zhan, J.; Guy, D.; Walters, D. (2006) Deployment strategies for crops with inducible resistance., Proceedings of the IOBC/wprs joint working group meetings: 'Induced resistance to plants against insects and diseases' and 'Breeding for Resistance to Pests and Diseases', Crete, 27-29 April 2006.
  • Newton, A.C.; Begg, G.S.; Swanston, J.S. (2006) The effects of spatial scaling in host heterogeneity on epidemics of a plant pathogen., COST 860 SUSVAR Workshop on Cereal Crop Diversity: Implications for Production and Products, La Besse, France, 12-15 June 2006.
  • Newton, A.C.; Begg, G.S.; Guy, D.C. (2006) Controlling leaf blights in practice with variety mixtures., 3rd International Barley Leaf Blight Workshop, Edmonton, Canada, 23-27 July 2006.
  • Begg, G.S.; Young, M.W.; Hawes, C.; Squire, G.R. (2005) Persistence and potential impact of a GMHT trait in oilseed rape., GMOs: Ecologial Dimensions, 73, 211-218.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Jones, A.T.; Fenton, B.; Malloch, G.; Geoghegan, I.; Gordon, S.C.; Hillier, J.; Begg, G. (2003) Resistance-breaking raspberry aphid biotypes plant breeding., Bulletin OILB/SROP 26.
  • Begg, G.S.; Young, M.W.; Hawes, C.; McNicol, J.W.; Squire, G.R. (2003) Modelling feral (volunteer) oilseed rape in relation to thresholds of impurity., Proceedings of the 1st European Conference on the Co-existence of Genetically Modified Crops with conventional Organic Crops, Denmark, 13-14 November 2003, pp169-171.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Jones, A.T.; Fenton, B.; Malloch, G.; Geoghegan, I.; Gordon, S.C.; Hillier, J.; Begg, G.S. (2002) Resistance-breaking raspberry aphid biotypes: constraints to sustainable control through plant breeding and integrated crop management., Proceedings of IOBC Host Plant Resistance Workshop, Sweden, 8-12 December 2001.
  • Begg, G.S.; Hawes, C.; Marshall, B.; D'Hertefeldt, T.; Ramsay, G.; Young, M.W.; Squire, G.R.; Wright, G.M. (2002) Dispersal and persistence of feral oilseed rape - mechanisms and consequences., ESF Working Group Meeting: Estimating and Managing Geneflow and Dispersal in GM Crops, Lille, France, 2-3 July 2002.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Jones, A.T.; Fenton, B.; Malloch, G.; Geoghegan, I.; Gordon, S.C.; Hillier, J.; Begg, G.S. (2002) Resistance-breaking raspberry aphid biotypes: constraints to sustainable control through plant breeding., Acta Horticulturae, 585, 315-317.
  • Birch, A.N.E.; Jones, A.T.; Fenton, B.; Malloch, G.; Geoghegan, I.; Gordon, S.C.; Hillier, J.; Begg, G.S. (2001) Resistance-breaking raspberry aphid biotypes: a challenge for plant breeding and biotechnology., Proceedings of IOBC Soft Fruit IPM Meeting, Dundee, 2001.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.