RMRS Program Areas
Justin B. Runyon
1648 South 7th Avenue, MSU Campus
Bozeman, MT 597177-2780
Contact Justin B. Runyon
Justin’s research focuses on plant-insect chemical ecology. His current research includes: (1) exploring chemically-mediated ecological interactions between invasive plants and herbivores to improve biocontrol as a management tool, (2) examining how bark beetle attack alters tree chemistry and how this affects flammability to better predict and manage wildfires, (3) investigating the roles plant volatiles play in plant-pollinator interactions and how climate change alters these interactions at the community level, and (4) exploiting sagebrush chemistry to improve restoration.
Justin also researches the taxonomy and biodiversity of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).
Chemistry plays a critical role in most species interactions and underpins community structure and function. I seek to understand chemistry's function in the World and exploit it to better manage and restore ecosystems. One example is biological control, the only tool capable of managing widespread exotic plant invasions, which, at its most successful, can offer long-term solutions to weed problems. However, some biological control agents obtain approval and are released, but fail to impact weed populations. This is troublesome because exploration, testing, and approval for each agent take many years and is estimated to cost several millions of dollars to complete. Moreover, ineffective agents can cause unwanted ecological changes in the communities in which they occur. A better understanding of the interactions between biocontrol agents and their invasive host plants is needed to identify the factors which promote or limit successful biocontrol. My approach is to apply the chemical ecology of plant-herbivore interactions to classical biological control of weeds - two fields which have largely progressed independently to date. Chemistry plays a central role in determining ecological outcomes between plants and insects, and should provide information that can be used to better predict which potential agents are most likely to be effective.
1. Chemical Ecology of interactions between invasive parasitic plants, their host plants, and insect herbivores. 2. Biological control and chemical ecology of the tritrophic system consisting of the wheat stem sawfly, host plants, and natural enemies.3. Taxonomy and revisionary studies of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).
Why This Research is Important
Invasive species present one of the greatest threats to the health and sustainability of ecosystems worldwide. This research will better position us to devise and apply biological control to address plant invasions. It will also advance our basic understanding of the ecology of plant-insect interactions and the conditions under which herbivory translates into meaningful changes in plant populations - fundamental ecological questions that hold great promise for managing invasive plants.
- University of Virginia's College at Wise, VA, BS Biology and Mathematics, 1998
- Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, MS Entomology, 2001
- Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, Ph.D. Entomology, 2008
Awards & Recognition
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, 2014
This is "the highest honor that the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Ag Alumni Society present to select alumni who have achieved notable professional achievements and brought distinction to themselves, the college, and the University."
- Kavli Fellow, 2014
Invited to participate in the Kavli Frontiers of Science symposiumin Medan, Indonesia in June 2014. This is the premiere activity within the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for distinguished young scientists.
- Deputy Chief's Early Career Scientist Award , 2012
This honor was awarded "in recognition of your outstanding research productivity and your impacts on science including your major efforts in science delivery." Received February 2013 in Washington D.C.
- Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) , 2012
This is "the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers". Received April 2014 in Washington D.C.
Featured Publications & Products
- Birdsall, Jennifer L.; McCaughey, Ward; Runyon, Justin B. 2012. Roads impact the distribution of noxious weeds more than restoration treatments in a lodgepole pine forest in Montana, U.S.A.
- Jenkins, Michael J.; Runyon, Justin B.; Fettig, Christopher J.; Page, Wesley G.; Bentz, Barbara J. 2014. Interactions among the mountain pine beetle, fires, and fuels.
- Page, Wesley G.; Jenkins, Michael J.; Runyon, Justin B. 2012. Mountain pine beetle attack alters the chemistry and flammability of lodgepole pine foliage.
- Runyon, Justin; Robinson, Harold. 2010. Hurleyella, a new genus of Nearctic Dolichopodidae (Diptera).
- Runyon, Justin B.; Mescher, Mark C.; Felton, Gary W.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2010. Parasitism by Cuscuta pentagona sequentially induces JA and SA defence pathways in tomato.
- Runyon, Justin B.; Mescher, Mark C.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2006. Volatile chemical cues guide host location and host selection by parasitic plants.
Publications & Products
- Runyon, Justin B.; Hurley, Richard L. 2015. A revision of the Nearctic species of Liancalus (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).
- Page, Wesley G.; Jenkins, Michael J.; Runyon, Justin B. 2014. Spruce beetle-induced changes to Engelmann spruce foliage flammability.
- Gillette, Nancy E.; Wood, David L.; Hines, Sarah J.; Runyon, Justin B.; Negron, Jose F. 2014. The once and future forest: Consequences of mountain pine beetle treatment decisions.
- Littlefield, J. L.; Markin, G.; Kashefi, J.; de Meij, A.; Runyon, J. 2013. The release and recovery of Bradyrrhoa gilveolella on rush skeletonweed in southern Idaho.
- Runyon, Justin B.; Butler, Jack L.; Friggens, Megan M.; Meyer, Susan E.; Sing, Sharlene E. 2012. Invasive species and climate change (Chapter 7).
- Runyon, Justin B. 2012. The Nearctic species of Telmaturgus (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).
- Runyon, Justin B. 2010. A new synonymy in Erebomyia (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).
- Runyon, Justin B.; Mescher, Mark C.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2010. Plant defenses against parasitic plants show similarities to those induced by herbivores and pathogens.
- Weaver, David K.; Buteler, Micaela; Hofland, Megan L.; Runyon, Justin B.; Nansen, Christian; Talbert, Luther E.; Lamb, Peggy; Carlson, Gregg R. 2009. Cultivar preferences of ovipositing wheat stem sawflies as influenced by the amount of volatile attractant.
- Runyon, Justin B.; Tooker, John F.; Mescher, Mark C.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2009. Parasitic plants in agriculture: Chemical ecology of germination and host-plant location as targets for sustainable control: A review.
- Runyon, Justin B.; Mescher, Mark C.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2008. Parasitism by Cuscuta pentagona attenuates host plant defenses against insect herbivores.
- Runyon, Justin. 2008. Richard L. Hurley, 1934-2008.
- Runyon, Justin. 2008. The cingulum: A unique structure of some Dolichopodidae.
- Mescher, Mark C.; Runyon, Justin B.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2006. Plant host finding by parasitic plants: A new perspective on plant to plant communication.
- Weaver, David K.; Nansen, Christian; Runyon, Justin B.; Sing, Sharlene E.; Morrill, Wendell L. 2005. Spatial distributions of Cephus cinctus Norton (Hymenoptera: Cephidae) and its braconid parasitoids in Montana wheat fields.
- Nansen, Christian; Weaver, David K.; Sing, Sharlene E.; Runyon, Justin B.; Morrill, Wendell L.; Grieshop, Matthew J.; Shannon, Courtney L.; Johnson, Megan L. 2005. Within-field spatial distribution of Cephus cinctus (Hymenoptera: Cephidae) larvae in Montana wheat fields.
- Runyon, Justin B.; Hurley, Richard L. 2004. A new genus of long-legged flies displaying remarkable wing directional asymmetry.
- Runyon, Justin B.; Hurley, Richard L. 2003. Revision of the Nearctic species of Nepalomyia Hollis (= Neurigonella Robinson) (Diptera: Dolichopodidae: Peloropeodinae) with a world catalog.
- Daisy, Bryn H.; Strobel, Gary A.; Castillo, Uvidelio; Ezra, David; Sears, Joe; Weaver, David K.; Runyon, Justin B. 2002. Naphthalene, an insect repellent, is produced by Muscodor vitigenus, a novel endophytic fungus.
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