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As humans drastically change the planet, animals are rapidly evolving to survive

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Abandoned Places.

We think of evolution as a slow process playing out over millennia. But evolutionary biologist Shane Campbell-Staton says nature is rapidly changing to keep up with the world humanity has built.

About Shane Campbell-Staton

Shane Campbell-Staton is an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. He studies a wide array of animals adapting to life on a planet dominated by humans — from lizards evolving to survive scorching city heat to tuskless African elephants thriving during a time of rampant poaching. In 2022, he was named a Pew Biomedical Scholar for his team's research on the evolution of cancer resilience in gray wolves within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. His work has been featured in several media outlets, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Sports Illustrated and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Most recently, Shane Campbell-Staton can be seen on PBS as host of a six-part documentary series, Human Footprint, where he examines how humans have transformed the planet.

Abandoned doctor's office in the Polesia State RadioEcological Reserve (PSRER), 2016
/ Cara Love
/
Cara Love
Abandoned doctor's office in the Polesia State RadioEcological Reserve (PSRER), 2016

On this segment, we also hear from integrative biologist, Cara Love. Love is a NSF postdoctoral research fellow with the Campbell-Staton Group. Her research combines ecology, ecotoxicology, immunology, and evolutionary medicine to address how wildlife health and population dynamics are affected by chronic exposure to anthropogenic stress.

Eurasian bison in the Polesia State RadioEcological Reserve (PSRER), 2014
/ Cara Love
/
Cara Love
Eurasian bison in the Polesia State RadioEcological Reserve (PSRER), 2014
Abandoned building in the Polesia State RadioEcological Reserve (PSRER), 2016
/ Cara Love
/
Cara Love
Abandoned building in the Polesia State RadioEcological Reserve (PSRER), 2016

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Harsha Nahata and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour, Rachel Faulkner White, and James Delahoussaye. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at TEDRadioHour@npr.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manoush Zomorodi
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Harsha Nahata
Harsha Nahata (she/her) is a producer for TED Radio Hour. She is drawn to storytelling as a way to explore ideas about identity and question dominant narratives.
Sanaz Meshkinpour
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Rachel Faulkner White
Rachel Faulkner is a producer and editor for TED Radio Hour.
James Delahoussaye
[Copyright 2024 NPR]