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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.

Wild horses

Mustangs: Celebrated Western Icon or Ecological Disaster?

Mustangs, as the wild horses of the American West are known, represent something different for everyone.
Zooming in on Schiaparelli components on Mars

Why Getting to Mars is Not So Easy

There is a reason Mars has a reputation as a graveyard for spacecraft.
red knee tarantula

Fear and Your Brain

Researchers at Cambridge studied how peoples' brains respond to fear.
Serengeti

Plants Know When They Are Being Eaten. (And They Fight Back.)

Plants have long employed a variety of defensive strategies against herbivores, but the scope and sophistication of these defenses is still being understood.
Haumea, a dwarf planet

The Weirdest Dwarf Planets Discovered So Far

The solar system is apparently more crowded than we thought: astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet. Some dwarf planets don't play by the rules.
A rendering of the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) telescope

A New Tool in the Search for Alien Life

China is bringing a huge new radio telescope on-line, and part of its stated purpose will be to search for alien life.
kid with food on floor

Sorry Kids, the 5-Second Rule is Bunk

The 5-second rule has been officially disproved.
mosquito illustration

Believe It or Not, You Don’t Actually Want Mosquitoes Eradicated

What would happen if we actually eliminated mosquitoes?
rising sea levels

Sea Level Rise Is Already Here

For the 44% of the world's population that lives near the coastline, global climate change is no longer abstract. 
Coast in Greenland

Do Fossils Always Tell the Truth?

New findings indicate life on earth is older than we thought.
Giraffe

What Makes a Species?

Scientists have found there are actually four different species of giraffes. But what makes a species?
Snakes may be able to predict earthquakes

Can Animals Really Predict Earthquakes?

Stories of animals behaving erratically before earthquakes have circulated for thousands of years.
Octobot soft robot

The Soft Robot Revolution

Science fiction has accustomed us to metallic, humanoid robots, but there are better models out there. 
Lightning

Watch Out for Lightning

How did 300 reindeer in Norway die from a single lightning strike? 
Cockroach milk illustration

Got (Cockroach) Milk?

Is cockroach milk the next hot super food?
recycling plastic bottles

One Way to a Cleaner Ocean? Plastics!

A new technology allows ships to dredge the ocean for plastic, then compress it into bricks. But plastic recycling has proved difficult in the past.
Bugs

The Bigger Your House, The More Room for Bugs

Insect diversity inside the house strongly correlates with neighborhood income. The higher up the income ladder you climb, the greater the diversity of bugs.
Black Hole illustration

What’s On the Other Side of a Black Hole?

What would happen if you entered a black hole?
Epiphytes in Costa Rica

How Ants Make Gardens in the Sky

You probably haven’t heard of ant gardens, but JSTOR has. High above neotropical rain forests, ants create elaborate nests, sharing them with epiphytes.
Greenland Shark illustration

Slow, Steady, and Very, Very, Very Old

Why do Greenland Sharks and Pacific Rockfish live for hundreds and hundreds of years?
Badger group

What Birds, Coyotes, and Badgers Know About Teamwork

 Mutualism is a relationship between organisms where both benefit.
Southern Alps in New Zealand

How to Make It Rain

The United Arab Emirates is looking into building an artificial mountain in order to stimulate rain. Will it work?
Airships and Flying Machines

The Natural Resources You Didn’t Know You Needed

Fossil fuels might get all the attention, but a recent discovery in Tanzania is a reminder of the other, less-heralded natural resources that we use.
Cougar

Bringing Back the Cougars

A controversial proposed solution to the Eastern United States' deer population problem.

The Mysterious Ocean of Enceladus

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a secret. For some years, scientists have been convinced that there is a liquid ...