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James MacDonald

James MacDonald received a BS in Environmental Biology from Columbia and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University, spending 4 years in Central America collecting data on fish in mangrove forests. His research has been published in scholarly journals such as Estuaries and Coasts and Biological Invasions. Until his death in the fall of 2019, James worked in fisheries management and outreach in New York.

A school of fish beside a coral reef

Beware Marine Heatwaves

Marine heatwaves are becoming stronger and more common as the climate warms.
beef jerky in a pile on slate surface

Ch’arki: The First Jerky

Ch'arki is made in the high-altitude Andes by alternately drying the meat in the hot sun and freezing it during the cold nights.
The Irish Elk

The Cartoonishly Giant Antlers of the Irish Elk

The mystery of the Irisk Elk's giant antlers attracted the attention of famous evolutionary biologist Steven Jay Gould.
Norsepower Rotor Sails onboard the Maersk Pelican

Wind Power Returns to the Shipping Industry

The industry explored the idea of using actual sails, but modern turbine-based wind power will significantly reduce emissions.
graphene

Will Graphene Deliver on Its Promise?

Strong, stable, and conductive at one atom thick, graphene has amazing potential in a variety of applications. But is hype all the material has?
William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza

What Did the Winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine Discover?

The 2019 Nobel Prize for Medicine honors a discovery that may make it possible to prevent or even reverse the damage from cardiovascular disease.
A man standing before a large ant hill

I Spent Three Hours Staring at an Anthill

And all I got were these fascinating observations of parasitic ants that kidnap other ants.
Drain pipes flowing into a bay

Antibiotics Are Getting into Everything

How does a wild dolphin end up resistant to antibiotics?
A network server

How Much Carbon Will It Cost to Read This Story?

Just how significant is the internet’s carbon footprint?
full moon

Nobody Really Knows Why We Dream

An extensive literature review reveals a startling lack of consensus around why we dream, though neurologists have made important discoveries.
A shark being cleaned by smaller fish

Where the Small Fish Clean the Bigger Ones

A "cleaner station" is a sort of undersea business, a place where large, often predatory, fish go to have parasites removed.
Tree thinning in a national forest shows detail of the logging industry in Oregon.

Does Forest Thinning Work?

Does forest thinning, a land management strategy, offer an effective solution to the problem of forest fires?
Dolphins in captivity

The Ethics of Research on Captive Dolphins

Researchers say that dolphins are so smart that captivity causes them psychological harm. But getting data in the open ocean can be tricky.
A pair of humpback whales

The Cultural Differences in Humpback Whale Songs

One group of researchers found distinct differences among songs from groups of humpback whales that are geographically isolated from each other.
A new lava stream cascades into the ocean at the former lava delta site in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanic Ecosystems in the Deep Ocean

Undersea volcanoes, like Hawaii's Kīlauea, foster diverse ecosystems in an environment far from sunlight—and as acidic as lemon juice.
A variety of beetles mounted on a board

The Race to Name New Species

Habitats are being destroyed so rapidly that species can go extinct before they are even named.
A river

The Controversial Core of the Clean Water Act

Proposed changes to the Clean Water Act would make it more difficult to define what bodies of waters are deemed worthy of protection.
Antechinus stuartii

Death and Mating

Semelparous organisms reproduce exactly once in a lifetime.
A fire burns in a section of the Amazon rain forest on August 25, 2019 in the Candeias do Jamari region near Porto Velho, Brazil

Can Fire Destroy the Amazon?

The massive fires of 2019 have many asking the question: is there a "tipping point" beyond which the Amazon cannot recover?
A schematic of manganese nodules mining on the deep sea floor.

The Potential Pros and Cons of Seabed Mining

Concentrations of iron manganese nuggets and other metals in the deep seabed have stirred up interest in mining. But at what cost?
Polar Bear Walking On A Rocky Shore Line

Climate Change and the Endangered Species Act

The Trump administration has moved to significantly weaken the ESA, limiting consideration of climate change when identifying species as endangered.
Mouse embryo

Get Ready For Human-Animal Hybrids

New progress in stem-cell research raises some thorny ethical questions.
Crop circle in Switzerland

Pssst, Crop Circles Were a Hoax

In the late 1970s, mysterious circular patterns started showing up in farm fields.
Ira Jackson pulls his boat through a flooded street September 5, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina

How Toxic Are Flood Waters?

While flood waters can be extremely polluted, researchers have found the lasting impact is different from what one might expect.