Watch Rapid Evolution: How Animals Can Adapt in a Human World

Written by: The Exchange

How do people impact ecosystems? In so many cases we pretty much wreck things in our effort to make seemingly the whole world into a built environment, driving animals away or to extinction. However, there are examples of rapid evolution, when wild creatures adapt to human failings, triumphs, and disasters. Lizards can evolve to live in cities, elephants change their look in response to poaching, and wolves find a way to survive the radiation in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Princeton assistant professor Shane Campbell-Staton collects wide-ranging examples where animals evolve more quickly to survive the effects of urbanization, invasive species, climate change, and other human-related circumstances. Join us for this fascinating exploration of how this can happen and what it may indicate about the resilience of some aspects of the animal kingdom.


Shane Campbell-Staton is an Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is interested in how human history, culture, technology and politics influence life, biological stress and evolution of species around the world. Shane uses physiology, gene expression, genomics and experimentation to identify genes and traits that allow animals to rapidly adapt to new environmental pressures faced in a human-dominated world. He also has a deep passion for sharing science with the public, as evidenced in part by his podcast, The Biology of Superheroes. His own passion for science was kindled through television as a child. Now Shane is sharing his own passions and the wonders of science with a diverse audience through his research as well as visual and audio media.

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