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Suzanne E. MacDonald

Suzanne E. MacDonald

Picture of Suzanne E. MacDonald
Suzanne E. MacDonald
Full Professor

Eligible to Supervise

Biology Graduate Program

Research Focus

Research in my laboratory is comparative in approach. We study a wide range of primate species (gorillas, orangutans, Old and New World monkeys, prosimians) in "naturalistic" environments, at the Toronto Zoo and other zoos across North America. We are also involved in several projects looking at reproductive behavior in endangered species, including cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, Vancouver Island marmots, and black-footed ferrets.

My research interests center on the cognitive mechanisms involved in foraging behaviour. A major focus of the work is on spatial memory -- how do animals remember where they have been? How do animals encode and use complex information about their environments? I am also interested in the types of strategies animals use while foraging, and am looking at social foraging in several primate species. Practical applications of this work include increasing the psychological well-being of captive zoo animals through behavioural enrichment and improved habitat design.

Selected Publications

Zuliani, M., Ghazian, N.,MacDonald, S.E., & Lortie, C.J. (2024). The relative effects of artificial shrubs on animal community assembly. Restoration Ecology.

Ghazian, N., MacDonald, S.E., & Lortie, C.J. (2024). An experimental test of lignocellulosic fabrics for potential use in artificial habitat construction in deserts. Global Ecology and Conservation.

Zuliani, M., Ghazian, N.,MacDonald, S.E., & Lortie, C.J. (submitted, October 23/23). The importance of variation of local shrub densities on local vertebrate association across an aridity gradient. Submitted to the Journal of Arid Environments.

Dupuis-Desormeaux, M., Van Alystyne, G., Mueller, M., Takayesu, R., D’Elia, V., Tan, T. & MacDonald, S.E. (In press, 2024). Social media-based citizen science for turtle nest monitoring and conservation. FACETS

Dupuis-Desormeaux, M., Dheer, A., Davidson, Z., Saibala, K., Kaaria, T., & MacDonald, S.E. (2023). Teeth, tusks and spikes: Repeated den sharing between predator and prey in an African savanna. African Journal of Ecology DOI: 10.1111/aje.13153

Dupuis-Desormeaux, M.,Kaaria, T.N., Kinoti, J., Paul, A., Gilicho, S., Kobia, F., Onyango, R., Chege, G., Kimiti, D., Mwololo, M., Davidson, Z., & MacDonald, S.E. (2023). Human-wildlife conflicts in communities bordering a fenced wildlife conservancy—a case study from Kenya. African Journal of Ecology DOI: 10.1111/aje.13151

Dupuis-Desormeaux, M., Van Alystyne, G., Mueller, M., Takayesu, R., D’Elia, V., * MacDonald, S.E. (2023). Hatchling Red-eared Slider (Trachyemys scripta elegans) in the Greater Toronto Area. Canadian Field Naturalist

Congdon, J., Hosseini, M., Gading, E.F., Masousi, H., Franke, M., & MacDonald, S. E.
(2022). The future of artificial intelligence in monitoring animal identification, health and behaviour. Animals. 12(13), 171

Dupuis-Desormeaux, M., McDonald, K., Moro, D., Reid, T., Agnew, C., Johnson, R., MacDonald, S.E. (2022). A snapshot of the distribution and demographics of freshwater turtles along Toronto’s Lake Ontario coastal wetlands. Journal of Great Lakes Research

Magnus, G., Dutton, C., Mastromonaco, G., Gartley, C., MacDonald, S.E. & Franke, M. (2022). Luteal phase length, endometrial edema and behaviour differentiate post-ovulatory events in a giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Zoo Biology. DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21655


Ecology and Population Biology; Animal Behaviour, Comparative Cognition

Research Areas

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology