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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.

Toddler boy playing in sandbox

Should Parents Fear the Sandbox?

The good news is that most parents living in sanitary environments really don’t need to worry about toxocariasis. The bad news is that toxocara may be yet another obstacle placed in front of disadvantaged children.
Wild Orangutan Female Eating Red Berries

How Wild Animals Self-Medicate

The range of animals known to make use of available medicinal materials includes orangutans, dogs, parrots, spider monkeys, lizards, and lemurs.
Red snapper chromolithograph 1898

Fish Are Smarter Than You Think

Fish intelligence? Yes, many studies have documented the ability of fish to learn from their environment. Fish exposed to a more complicated environment have an edge in learning.
Bobcat kittens

Fighting Wildlife Crime With Forensic Genetics

How can law enforcement officials help save endangered animals from poachers? Techniques of forensic genetics used in human crime scene analysis are entering the fray.
Climate change wine

Climate Change Vs. Your Wine

One crop in particular is likely to have problems as climate change progresses. Savor that glass of rosé, for as the climate changes wine grapes will be among the first to suffer.
Bengal tiger

How War Affects Wildlife

A multi-decade study of wildlife in Africa found that armed conflict—even infrequent, low-level conflict—was enough to cause declines in a wide range of wildlife populations.
Crown-of-thorns starfish crown of thorns

When Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Attack

Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef is facing a threat from a massive outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish.
dark side of the moon

What Awaits on the Dark Side of the Moon?

An unmanned Chinese probe will be exploring the moon's far side in 2018. The side that faces away from the earth differs significantly from the familiar face of the moon. So why are the two sides so different?
Power plant

Why Air Pollution Is a Socioeconomic Issue

Too much pollution can pose a health risk to anyone, but whether it is lethal or not mostly depends on the person's underlying health—and economic—status.
dna illustration

A Primer on e-DNA

eDNA is DNA that an animal sloughs off into its environment through feces, shedding, or lost skin. The technology can detect invasive species.
Sika stag deer staring at camera

The Surprising Frequency of Interspecies Mating

Sometimes different but related species can reproduce. When two different species successfully mate, the resulting offspring is called a hybrid.
v

Getting to Know Pterosaurs

Everyone loves dinosaurs. Perhaps less well-known are their cousins, the pterosaurs. Pterosaurs could fly, and were closely related ...
Mount Agung volcano

Can a Single Volcano Cool the Earth?

Even one volcano can have impacts that affect the planet. There have been eruptions that affected the temperature over the entire hemisphere.
traffic jam

The Science of Traffic

Traffic congestion has been a problem in the United States ever since the 1930s, and since that time, scientists have been studying on the problem.
Yeti

It’s a Yeti! It’s an Abominable Snowman! It’s a… Bear?

A group of scientists from Buffalo tried to definitively prove whether or not the Yeti exists, examining DNA from a variety of hair and tooth samples.
Toxoplasma gondii

Humans and Their Parasites

Parasitic diseases can be effectively eliminated, but they can persist even in developed countries with effective healthcare systems.
Chimpanzee

The Complexity of Animal Communication

Alarm calls truly display the complexity of animal communication. Chimps tailor their warning communications based on the knowledge level of the recipient.
flat earther

A Natural History of Flat Earthers

How is it that in 2017 there are still Flat Earthers? Perhaps first we need to look back at the myth of Christopher Columbus.
pluripotent stem cell

Rethinking Bioengineered Skin

A boy with a rare condition was losing his skin, until a medical team was able to produce artificial skin. Healing damaged skin has long been a challenge.
Vaquita

Why Scientists Couldn’t Save the Vaquita, the “Panda of the Sea”

It might be the end of the line for the vaquita, the world’s rarest marine mammal. A dramatic last-ditch attempt to capture one has failed.
Common thresher shark

Why It’s So Difficult to Save Sharks

Will a ban on shark fins help shark populations? Since sharks are slow-growing and long-lived, once shark stocks are depleted, they take a while to rebound.
Juvenile American Eel

The Final Migration of the American Eel

Every year, thousands of American eels make an amazing migration from their freshwater homes into the Atlantic Ocean, where they spawn and die.
Gapstow bridge Central Park, New York City

Where Do City Birds Go for the Winter?

Cities can host surprisingly diverse bird species, apart from the ubiquitous pigeons and sparrows. Where do they go in the winter?
elegant woman dressed in black hiding with umbrella

When a Heart Literally Breaks

Grief and heartbreak can be devastating. But can a broken heart actually kill you? Yes, and it's called Broken Heart Syndrome.
Dinosaur fossil

The Popular, Lucrative, and Legally Questionable Fossil Trade

Middlemen sell fossils to the highest bidder, whether it’s a museum or a wealthy collector who wants their own stegosaurus.