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Steve Palumbi, PhD


Stanford University

Evolving to Survive: Can coral reefs fight climate change?


In addition to altering global ecology, technology and human population growth also affect evolutionary trajectories, dramatically accelerating evolutionary change in other species, especially in commercially important, pest, and disease organisms. Such changes are apparent in antibiotic and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) resistance to drugs, plant and insect resistance to pesticides, rapid changes in invasive species, life-history change in commercial fisheries, and pest adaptation to biological engineering products. Slowing and controlling arms races in disease and pest management have been successful in diverse ecological and economic systems, illustrating how applied evolutionary principles can help reduce the impact of human-kind on evolution.

Meet the Speaker:

Steve's research group is engaged in study of the genetics, evolution, population biology and systematics of marine species from corals to sharks to whales. A major focus of Steve’s research is on the conservation and management of marine populations, the identification of seafood products available in commercial markets, and strategies for finding and protecting the world’s strongest Pacific corals. Recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Steve is a board member for several conservation organizations and a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute of the Environment. His work has been used in design of the current network of marine protected areas in California, seafood labelling laws in Japan and the United States, and in numerous TV and film documentaries including the 2017 PBS series Big Pacific.

Steve’s latest book for non-scientists, The Extreme Life of the Sea, is about the amazing species in the sea, written with Steve’s son and novelist Anthony. Previous books were The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival and The Evolution Explosion.

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