Professor M.A. McDonald - Staff Profile

image of Dr McDonald

Professor Morag McDonald
Professor of Ecology & Catchment Management / Head of School

Thoday Building, room G21


Tel: 01248 388076 (from U.K.)
+44 1248 388076 (International)

Responsibilities within SENRGY/BU

  • Head of School
  • Chair of the SENRGy Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team
  • UK Coordinator: Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctoral Programme, "Forests, Nature and Society (FONASO)

Qualifications and Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Bsc (Newcastle) PhD (Edinburgh)
  • Practitioner of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the International Society of Tropical Foresters

Research Interests

Soil conservation and fertility, impacts of anthropogenic and natural disturbance on forest ecosystems, restoration forestry, participatory and on-farm research, buffer-zone management, forest nutrient and carbon cycing, tropical dry forest regeneration, mangrove productivity.

Current and Recent Research Students

  • Buenavista, D. P. Ethnobotanical Knowledge and Economic Potentials of Indigenous Plants Utilized by the Local Communities of Mindanao, Philippines
  • Relena Ribbons: ‘Tree species effects on soils’ (co-supervised with Andy Smith and John Healey, SENRGy; Lars Vesterdal, Copenhagen University; and Cindy Prescott, University of British Columbia)
  • Hosea Mwangi: ‘Assessing the potential contribution of Forest in Integrated Water Resource Management: Mara River Basin Case Study in Kenya and Tanzania’ (co-supervised with Sopan Patil, SENRGy; and Karl-Heinz Feger, University of Dresden)
  • Kieron Iveson: ‘Perceptions of Justice and Equity in Energy Infrastructure: Willingness to Pay for High Voltage Overhead Transmission Lines and Loss of Natural Capital’ (co-supervised with Gareth Griffiths, Bangor Business School and Karen Parkhill, SENRGy)
  • Emilie Smith: ‘Local knowledge of land use change in the Democratic Republic of Congo’ (co-supervised with Fergus Sinclair)
  • Eefke Mollee: 'The innovative use of indigenous fruit trees for health and livelihoods in an urbanising world' (co-supervised with Anders Raebild, Copenhagen University)
  • Sayma Akhter: 'Conservation of Mangifera sylvatica: a wild forest fruit species for health and livelihoods' (co-supervised with Erik Kjaer, Copenhagen University)
  • Sioned Haf: 'Community Energy in Wales – Economic and Social Benefits' (co-supervised with Gareth Griffiths, Bangor Business School)
  • Dominic Wodehouse: 'A World Without Mangroves?' Synthesizing a best practice from community management and restoration' (co-supervised with Mark Rayment)
  • Ismaiel Ismaiel: 'Integrated Water Resources Management in Kurdistan' (co-supervised with Graham Bird)
  • Rosie Anthony: 'Carbon storage in apple orchards' (co-supervised with Davey Jones)

Recent Publications


Mollee, E., Pouliot, M, McDonald MA (2017). Into the Urban Wild: Collection of wild urban plants for food and medicine in Kampala, Uganda. Land Use Policy 63:67-77

Akhter, S, McDonald, MA, van Breugel, P, Sohel, S, Kjær, ED, Mariott R (2017). Climate Change Impacts on the Habitat Distribution of a wild mango species (Mangifera sylvatica) in Bangladesh. Land Use Policy 60: 223–232


DRYFLOR (2016). Plant diversity patterns in neotropical dry forests and their conservation implications. Science 353 (6306), 1383-1387. [doi: 10.1126/science.aaf5080]

Akhter, S, McDonald, MA, Marriott R (2016). Mangifera sylvatica (Wild Mango): A new cocoa butter alternative. Scientific Reports 6: 32050 doi:10.1038/srep32050:

Akhter, S, McDonald, MA, van Breugel, P, Sohel, S, Kjær, ED, Jasimuddin, M, Mariott R (2016). Climate Change Impacts on the Habitat Distribution of a wild mango species (Mangifera sylvatica) in Bangladesh. Land Use Policy (in press)

Ribbons, RR, Levy-Booth, DJ, Masse, J, Grayston, SJ, McDonald, MA, Vesterdal, L, Prescott, CE (2016). Linking microbial communities, functional genes and nitrogen-cycling processes in forest floors under four tree species. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 103, 181–191

Mwangi , HM, Julich, S, Patil, SD, McDonald, MA and KH Feger (2016). Modelling the impact of agroforestry on hydrology of Mara River Basin in East Africa. Hydrological Processes 30, 3139–3155DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10852

Mwangi, H.M., Julich, S., Patil, S., McDonald, M., Feger, K.H. (2016). Relative contribution of land use change and climate variability on discharge of upper Mara River, Kenya. Journal of Hydrology  5, 244–260


Musálem , K., McDonald, M., Jiménez, J, LainoGuanes , R. (2015). Groundwater vulnerability mapping in two watersheds affected by the Yacyreta Dam in Paraguay. Water, Technology and Sciences, 6, 49-61

Baul, T.K., McDonald, M.A. (2015) Integration of Indigenous knowledge in addressing climate change. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 1 (1) 20-27


Mahecha, L.M.N., Meilby, H., McLaren, K.P., Lévesque, M., Wilson, B., McDonald, M.A. (2014). Assessing and predicting changes in above ground biomass after disturbance in a neotropical dry forest; model choice is key. Plant Ecology 215 (10), 1081-1097

McDonald, M.A. & Griffiths (2014). Greening the MBA. In: Green Innovation and Future Technology: Engaging Rural SMEs in the Green Economy. Eds. F. Kelliher & L. Reinl. Palgrave MacMillan

Mahecha, L.M.N., Meilby, H., McLaren, K.P., Lévesque, M., Wilson, B., McDonald, M.A. (2014) Long-term changes in above ground biomass after disturbance in a neotropical dry forest, Hellshire Hills, Jamaica. Plant Ecology (in press)

McGovern  S.P., Evans, C., Dennis, P., Walmsley, C., Turner A., McDonald, M. A. (2014)  Increased inorganic nitrogen leaching from a mountain grassland ecosystem following grazing removal: A hangover of past intensive land-use? Biogeochemistry 119:125–138

Baul, T.K., McDonald, M.A. (2014). Agro-Biodiversity Management: Using Indigenous Knowledge to Cope with Climate Change in the Middle-Hills of Nepal. Agricultural Research DOI10.1007/s40003-014-0096-8


Baul, T.K., Atique Ullah, K.M., Tiwari, K.R., McDonald, M.A. (2013).  People’s perceptions of climate change in the Middle-Hills of Nepal. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 12 585-595

Baul T.K., Tiwari K.R., Ullah K.M.A., McDonald M.A. (2013). Agrobiodiversity in the Middle-Hills of Nepal. Small Scale Forestry 12(611-629)

McGovern S., Evans, C., Dennis, P., Walmsley, C., Turner A., McDonald, M. A. (2013).  Resilience of upland soils to long term environmental changes. Geoderma 197-198: 36-42

Musálem-Castillejos, K,  Jiménez-Otárola, F., McDonald M. (2013). A rapid assessment tool for integrated watershed management: a case study from La Plata River Basin in South America. Aqua Lac 5  27 – 35


Anglaaere, L.C.N, Cobbina, J., Sinclair, F.L, McDonald, M.A. (2011). The Effect of Land Use Systems on Tree Diversity: Farmer Preference and Species Composition of Cocoa-Based Agroecosystems in Ghana. Agroforestry Systems 81: 249-265

Hearn, S.M., Healey, J.R., McDonald, M.A., Turner, A.J., Wong, J.L.G. and Stewart, G.B. (2011) The repeatability of vegetation classification and mapping. Journal of Environmental Management 92: 1174-1184.

Lévesque, M., McLaren, K.P., McDonald, M.A. (2011). Coppice shoot dynamics in a tropical dry forest after human disturbance. Journal of Tropical Ecology 27: 259 - 268

Lévesque, M., McLaren, K.P., McDonald M.A. (2011) Recovery and Dynamics of a Primary Tropical Dry Forest in Jamaica, 10 Years after Human Disturbance. Forest Ecology and Management 262:  817-826

McGovern, S., Evans, C.D., Dennis, P.D., Walmsley, C., McDonald, M.A. (2011). Identifying drivers of species compositional change in a semi-natural upland grassland over a 40 year period. Journal of Vegetation Science 22: 346–356

McLaren, K.P., Lévesque, M., Sharma, C.A., Wilson B.S., McDonald M.A. (2011).  From seedlings to trees: Using ontogenetic models of growth and survivorship to assess long- term (> 100 years) dynamics of a neotropical dry forest. Forest Ecology and Management 262: 916-930


McDonald, M.A., McLaren, K.P. and Newton, A.C. (2010) What are the mechanisms of regeneration post-disturbance in tropical dry forest? Environmental Evidence


Acharya, G.P., Tripathi, B.P., Gardner, R.M., Mawdesley, K.J. and McDonald, M.A. (2008) Sustainability of sloping land cultivation systems in the mid-hills of Nepal. Land Degradation and Development 19: 530-541.


Acharya, G.P., McDonald, M.A., Tripathi, B.P., Gardner, R.M. and Mawdesley, K.J. (2007) Nutrient losses from rain-fed bench terraced cultivation systems in high rainfall areas of the mid-hills of Nepal. Land Degradation and Development 18: 486-499.

Obiri, B.D., Bright, G., McDonald, M., Jatango, J.A., Cobbina, J. and Sinclair, F. (2007) The economic potential and farmer perceptions of herbaceous legume fallows in Ghana. Experimental Agriculture 43: 269-287.

Obiri, B.D., Bright, G.A., McDonald, M.A., Anglaaere, L.C.N. and Cobbina, J. (2007) Financial analysis of shaded cocoa in Ghana. Agroforestry Systems 71: 139-149.


McLaren, K.P. and McDonald, M.A. (2005) Seasonal patterns of flowering and fruiting in a dry tropical forest in Jamaica. Biotropica 37: 584-590.

McLaren, K.P., McDonald, M.A., Hall, J.B. and Healey, J.R. (2005) Predicting species response to disturbance from size class distributions of adults and saplings in a Jamaican tropical dry forest. Plant Ecology 181: 69-84