This episode is brought to you from the Just for Laughs Festival in Toronto. Our expert is Dr. Suzanne MacDonald, a psychology and biology professor at York University. Dr. MacDonald studies animal behavior.
Dr. MacDonald received her PhD from from the University of Alberta, and focuses the majority of her research on the psychology of animals and human-wildlife interactions. In addition to raccoons, Dr. MacDonald has studied orangutans, lions, hyenas, elephants and more to learn about their cognition. Testing animal cognition includes evaluating problem-solving abilities, ability to adapt to new environments, memory and more. Not only does Dr. Macdonald evaluates the cognition of wildlife, she also studies reproductive biology to determine population health and fitness.
Why it Matters:
Understanding the minds and behavior of animals can help us more easily protect and coexist with wildlife populations. Since not all animals are as adaptable and resourceful as raccoons, who have thrived in man-made environments, wildlife conservation and is an important task for scientists and non-scientists alike.
On orangutans ability to evaluate risk and reward:
An examination of orangutan responses to different genres of music:
On the reproductive patterns of the Vancouver Island marmot:
Her website: http://suzannemacdonald.ca/