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BBC Earth Podcast

Fascinating and funny stories from around the natural world, told by global speakers, experts and campaigners.

Each week the BBC Earth podcast brings you entertainment, humour, an abundance of amazing animal stories and unbelievable unheard sounds. Explore the world of animals with superpowers, deep dive into death, hear from her
Latest Episode12/6/2022

Rhythm

Season 5, Ep. 10
Sebastian is not afraid to admit that he lacks natural rhythm. But Rutendo thinks he’s too hard on himself – perhaps the world is just out of sync with him. Besides, every living thing is built upon natural rhythms, from our response to night and day, to the beating of our hearts.Kristina Bolinder leads us on an exploration of a plant with a very unusual habit: it only flowers under the light of the full moon. The reason why connects a century of lunar records with the latest in botanical research.Deep in the Budongo Forest in Uganda, a team of researchers has been following a group of chimps for several years, and learning that they each have their own signature rhythm, expressed through drumming on the base of trees. What’s more, they can choose when to reveal their identities through their drumming, and when to keep them hidden.Frozen Planet II Producer Rachel Scott tells us about the rhythm of life in the Arctic, from the devastating effects of climate change, to a beautiful and unexpectedsequence featuring polar bears dancing on ice.We close with the friendly tap-tapping sounds of the Great Spotted Woodpecker – who reveals much within its rhythm.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researcher was Seb Masters.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Kristina Bolinder for sharing her discovery that connected plants to the lunar cycle.Vesta Eluteri, Viola Komedova, Catherine Hobaiter and Mugisha Stephen for the feature on chimpanzee drumming.Rachel Scott from the BBC Natural History Unit.Chris Hails of wildechoes.org for providing the woodpecker soundscape.
12/6/2022

Rhythm

Season 5, Ep. 10
Sebastian is not afraid to admit that he lacks natural rhythm. But Rutendo thinks he’s too hard on himself – perhaps the world is just out of sync with him. Besides, every living thing is built upon natural rhythms, from our response to night and day, to the beating of our hearts.Kristina Bolinder leads us on an exploration of a plant with a very unusual habit: it only flowers under the light of the full moon. The reason why connects a century of lunar records with the latest in botanical research.Deep in the Budongo Forest in Uganda, a team of researchers has been following a group of chimps for several years, and learning that they each have their own signature rhythm, expressed through drumming on the base of trees. What’s more, they can choose when to reveal their identities through their drumming, and when to keep them hidden.Frozen Planet II Producer Rachel Scott tells us about the rhythm of life in the Arctic, from the devastating effects of climate change, to a beautiful and unexpectedsequence featuring polar bears dancing on ice.We close with the friendly tap-tapping sounds of the Great Spotted Woodpecker – who reveals much within its rhythm.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researcher was Seb Masters.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Kristina Bolinder for sharing her discovery that connected plants to the lunar cycle.Vesta Eluteri, Viola Komedova, Catherine Hobaiter and Mugisha Stephen for the feature on chimpanzee drumming.Rachel Scott from the BBC Natural History Unit.Chris Hails of wildechoes.org for providing the woodpecker soundscape.
11/29/2022

Individuals

Season 5, Ep. 9
In an age of individualism, sometimes we are more connected than we think. And the same is true for everything on the planet. Rutendo and Sebastian explore the question of how and why we define an individual, a colony, or a group, across the animal kingdom.Lisa Kirkendale was astounded when she came across the longest organism ever discovered, a siphonophore off the coast of Australia. Composed of several semi-independent but constantly connected parts known as zooids, could it be seen as a colony of many creatures, or just one?Richard Youell, a beekeeper and sound recordist, uses innovative techniques to record directly inside a beehive, an almost impossible task because of bees’ natural inclination to protect themselves from a microphone, by covering it in wax. After a lot of time and patience, he has managed to record the unique captivating sounds of the battle between potential queens, a behaviour known as piping, where there can be only one victor.And we hear from Australian rockers King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, about their efforts to reduce the impact of their packed touring schedule on an increasingly fragile ecosystem.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researcher was Seb Masters.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Richard Youell for sharing his insight and sound recordings from within a beehive.Interviewee Lisa Kirkendale from the Western Australian Museum.
11/22/2022

Threat

Season 5, Ep. 8
It’s a scary world out there, as we explore how everything on the planet – from humankind to glaciers – must be able to respond to threat in order to survive. Sebastian surprises Rutendo with a story of the time he lived in Japan and took up fencing, occasionally finding himself at the wrong end of a sword.WWE wrestler and commentator Stu Bennett, better known as Bad News Barrett, is used to feeling the pressure in the ring. But away from that controlled environment, he has faced less expected threats, including an underwater close encounter with an enormous moray eel. He also shares his concerns – and hopes – for the future of a planet under its own kind of threat.In Nepal, poaching of rare animals is a growing problem, threatening the ecosystem itself. Kumar Paudel is tackling this issue head-on, using folk music and videos to educate rural communities on the consequences of poaching, and meeting face-to-face with convicted animal smugglers, to try to make lasting change against the odds.Lianna Zanette tells us about her work studying predator-induced fear, and how animals respond differently to threats depending on how they perceive their environment.And Oskar Glowacki introduces heartrending sounds recorded inside glaciers which are dying as a result of climate change.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researcher was Seb Masters.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Liana Zanette from The University of Western Ontario for sharing her research into the ecology of fear.Interviewee Stu Bennett aka Bad News Barrett.Kumar Paudel from Greenhood Nepal.Oskar Glowacki from the Polish Academy of Science for talking us through and letting us hear his glacier recordings.
11/15/2022

Reflections

Season 5, Ep. 7
Light and reflection are crucial across the animal kingdom, and sometimes they interact in strange and surprising ways. Rutendo tells Sebastian about the time she carried out a classic experiment, the mirror test, with lions, during her PhD. Some lions made friends with the mirrors, while others pursued less wholesome activities...The hatchet fish has evolved a fascinating means of hiding itself from predators, especially those searching out their prey with giant bioluminescent headlights. Biologist Alison Sweeney explains how the fish is able to disappear almost completely, using a combination of mirror-like scales and cells that act like fibre-optic cables on its belly.Yossi Yovel invites us into his “bat lab for neuro-ecology” in Tel Aviv, where he carries out (harmless) experiments with helium to see how a changed atmosphere can dramatically impact a bat’s ability to navigate using echolocation.And we find ourselves immersed in the bizarre sound-world of the lyrebird, which can perfectly mimic everything from car alarms to the calls of up to 25 other species of bird.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researcher was Seb Masters.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Alison Sweeney from Yale University for sharing her research on hatchetfish.Yossi Yovel from Tel Aviv University for his interview about bat senses.Marc Anderson for supplying the lyrebird soundscape.
11/8/2022

Defenders of the Earth

Season 5, Ep. 6
Sebastian and Rutendo celebrate nature’s defenders in all their forms. They argue that vultures should get more credit for their vital role as scavengers. Their super-acidic stomachs kill off deadly bacteria, like anthrax, that accumulates onrotting carcasses. This prevents the spread of disease and recycles nutrients back into the environment.Molecular biologist Mike Kolomiets tells us that the fragrance of newly mown grass isactually a scream for help and a warning to nearby plants that a herbivore is around. Grass can defend itself by releasing toxic metabolites and summoning the assistance of parasitic wasps that attack plant-eating caterpillars.We hear from prominent Brazilian climate activists Sônia Guajajara and Celia Xakriabá, both of whom believe that inidigenous women have a vital role to play inthe fight to preserve Brazil’s vast biodiversity.Biologist and comedian Simon Watt argues that to protect the biodiversity of our planet we need to be less fixated on cute creatures which are “lucky enough to havea face”, and take more interest in Earth’s ugly animals.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researchers were Seb Masters and Dawood Quereshi.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Mike Kolomiets from Texas A&M University for sharing his research into grass.Simon Watt from the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.Alice Aedy for the report from Brazil and her interviewees Sônia Guajajara, Célia Xakriabá.Interviewee Carl Gerhardt from University of Missouri and Lang Elliot for the amphibious soundscape.
11/1/2022

Whose Story?

Season 5, Ep. 5
Rutendo and Sebastian are looking at stories and whether it matters who is telling them. Paula Kahumbu is a renowned conservationist and film-maker in Kenya who wants to see more African stories told by Africans for Africans. “It's really important that Iam empowered to tell my own story. Not just that it's authentic, which therefore will resonate with the audiences ...but also it boosts my ability to have more impact out there.” Through her programme: ‘Wildlife Warriors’, Paula is training, championing and inspiring future generations of Africans to pursue careers in nature.Storytelling might feel uniquely human, but it plays an important role in the animal world too, with animals learning certain behaviours by copying family members. Just as human language is passed down through generations, animals learn vocalisations by listening to individuals around them. So what happens when that species is dying out? Daniel Appleby, of the Difficult Bird Research Group atCanberra University, describes how the scarcity of the Regent Honeyeater means the bird is forgetting its own song.And when an artist uses mushrooms to generate music through a synthesiser, who is the composer – the musician or the fungi?Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researchers were Seb Masters and Dawood Quereshi.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to:Daniel Appleby from the Difficult Bird Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra.Paula Kahumbu from WildlifeDirect.
10/24/2022

Pulling Power

Season 5, Ep. 4
We explore the invisible pulling powers of nature through the forces of smell, sound and gravity.In Greece, desert ants start their lives underground in total darkness. Void of landmarks and sun they initially learn to orient themselves using the Earth’s magnetic field. German scientist Dr Pauline Fleischman reveals how her team discovered the ant’s internal GPS.A healthy coral reef is a very noisy place, full of the snapping, rasping, scraping and croaking of various vocal species. But a dying reef is tragically quiet, devoid of the life which can no longer survive on it. However, conservationists have discovered a way to pull species back to these habitats with the ingenious use of underwaterspeakers.This sort of catfishing is used by a number of animals, including arachnids. Sebastian and Rutendo discuss one of nature’s more perilous powers of attraction with Kenyan entomologist, Dr Dino Martins. He describes the dramatic mating behaviour of the camel spider, an alluring species with incredible hunting skills.Humans might find the British dawn chorus a more soothing courtship ritual. But for the birds, it’s an intense competition. Sound recordist Gary Moore tells us why hethinks it’s one of the world’s greatest wildlife events.Credits:The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.The researchers were Seb Masters and Dawood Quereshi.The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer, the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton, and the Project Co-ordinator was Linda Barber.Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.Special thanks to...Dino J. Martins from the Mpala Research Centre.Pauline Fleischmann from the University of Würzburg for her insights on ant behaviour.Gary Moore who recorded and spoke about the dawn chorus soundscape.Tim Lamont, Tammy Silva, Emma Weschke, Tim Gordon and Eric Parmentier who provided underwater audio recordings for the interview with Steve Simpson from the University of Bristol.