Skip to content

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. He currently works in fisheries management and outreach in New York.

synthetic stingray

The Next Frontier in Synthetic Biology

Researchers have built something pretty weird­—an artificial stingray. Ethicists and legal experts are still debating the rise of synthetic biology.
frigate bird

The Astounding Adaptations of Long-Distance Flyers

Frigate birds are truly champion fliers. The birds can fly for weeks without stopping. How do they do it?
Hevelius map

Where Did the Moon Come From?

Despite years of study, it is only since the 1980s that a theory of the moon's origin has coalesced.
Kakamega rainforest

The Crucial Role of Women in Conservation

Conservationists need to do a better job involving women, according to a recent Nature Conservancy report.
Carter and Children

How One Nightmarish Disease Was Eradicated

Guinea worm, scourge of the tropics, may be nearing its end.
Photograph of two frogs

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Frog Sex (but Were Afraid to Ask)

New research suggests that specific positions may serve to ensure that frog species only mate with their own kind.

The Unlikely Places Where Corals Thrive

Working with local populations to live responsibly with coral reefs may have even better long-term effects than trying to protect said reefs.
Roller coaster in Atlantic City

What Makes Your Roller Coaster Go? Physics!

The physics behind the fun: roller coasters provide so many examples of basic principles that they are a staple of physics lessons. 

The “Keystone Species” Concept That Transformed Ecology

Dr. Robert Paine's "keystone species" concept was a profound discovery that changed the field of ecology forever.

Neanderthals Were Smarter Than You Think

Neanderthals, suggest recent studies, had complex societies and even some culture.

What’s in a Name (Of An Element)?

Chemists recently announced the names of four newly discovered elements. Naming elements is serious business, and not without controversy.

The Amazingly Complex World of Insect Navigation

Dung beetles, ants, and other insects navigate in mysterious ways.

Climate Change’s Winners?

Climate change may be helping some species thrive. But as evidenced by cephalopods and swans, where one species wins, another loses.

A Father’s Day Shout Out to Animal Dads

This Father's Day, consider some of the busiest, quirkiest, and hardest working dads around—animal dads like the the jacana, Darwin's frog, and seahorse.

Why King Tut Had A Meteorite Knife

What do you get the boy pharaoh who has everything? A dagger made out of meteorite iron, of course. 

Who Needs Mitochondria Anyway?

Mitochondria was once thought to be an integral part of all complex organisms. Then this organism was discovered.

Guess What? You’re a Superorganism.

The White House has announced the "microbiome moonshot" – a push to understand the human microbiome.

On Raising the Dead

A biotech company wants to use stem cell therapy to restore neurological function in patients who have been declared braindead.
Sapayoa aenigma, Nusagandi, Panama

The Sex Lives of Birds

Deep in a Central American rainforest, ornithologists have discovered that a rare bird has an unusual lifestyle.

Our Oceans Are Suffocating

The oceans can’t catch a break. To rising temperatures and acidification caused by rising CO2 emissions, add oxygen deprivation .

Sending Tiny Robots to the Nearest Star

A group of astrophysicists think they have found a way to send a probe to the newest star system, Alpha Centauri.

Why the Pounds Won’t Stay Off

Weight loss is a biological problem, and it will require a biological solution.
Colourful sponge garden with Sea Tulips (Pyura spinifera). Fly Point, Port Stephens, NSW

The Reef Hidden Beneath the Amazon Mud

A hidden sponge reef has been found in an unexpected place.
Inky the octopus swimming in a tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, New Zealand. Courtesy of the National Aquarium of New Zealand

The Flight of Inky the Octopus

Inky the Octopus made one of the natural world's most daring escapes when he somehow breached his tank to get to the Pacific. But how did he do it?
APOPO HeroRAT rat getting food reward

Dr. Nose: Disease-Detecting Animals

Belgian scientists are training rats to detect diseases. Other animals, including dogs, have a history of disease-detection.