Photo Contest: The Beauty of Ecology

Specialist magazine BMC Ecology wins the winner of its photo contest

This photo won the BMC Ecology Photo Contest in the Behavioral Ecology category. It shows an ant of the genus Ectatomma in seemingly classical guardian pose. © Maïlis Huguin / BMC ECology, CC-by-sa 4.0
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A turtle throng, a vigilant ant and a well-camouflaged octopus: these are some of the photos that have now won the BMC-Ecology photo contest. The task was to take pictures that illustrate the different aspects of ecology - from the interrelations of different species to each other, to bizarre adaptations to human intervention in nature.

Especially biologists encounter in their work often impressive, bizarre or simply interesting phenomena of nature. They illustrate how animals and plants assert themselves in their environment and which often sophisticated tricks they have developed to protect against predators, competitors or unfavorable conditions. With its photo contest, the journal BMC Ecology wants to give ecologists the chance to share this experience.

Images from science

The photos are all from scientists and were mostly taken during fieldwork. The 127 submissions were also evaluated by researchers. "That's why our winning pictures have been selected not only for the technical quality and beauty of the recordings, but also for the scientific story behind them, " says Chris Foote of BMC Ecology.

The photos were selected in five categories: biocoenoses, behavioral ecology, biodiversity and species protection, landscape ecology and ecosystems, as well as population and macroecology. We have put together a slideshow with some of the excellent photos for you.

But there is also an overall winner. This photo shows South American giant tortoises in the Cantao Natural Park in Brazil from an unusual perspective: directly from above. This makes the tanks almost an abstract pattern. "This picture is technically sound and rich in wonderful geometries, " says juror Chris Darimont. display

Perfectly camouflaged: This octopus sits completely open, but is hardly recognizable on the coral reef. Ach Michelle Achlatis / BMC ECology, CC-by-sa 4.0

The hidden octopus

As "Editor's Pick", the photo of a seemingly empty, uninhabited coral reef made the race. "There does not seem to be any animal life in this reef - until you notice the octopus sitting in full view and still hidden on the reef, " says Dominique Mazzi of BMC Ecology. "You do not find him? Just look for an eye, pretty much in the middle of the picture. "

Octopuses are known to adapt very well to their environment. Special color cells in their skin, the so-called chromatophores, allow the cuttlefish to imitate the color of their surroundings, and thus blend visually with the ground. Some species even imitate fish by adapting their position to their shape.

In the gang of four

Also not visible at first glance are the four species in the photo, which took second place in the overall standings as a perfect illustration of the complex interrelations of different species. On a plant a bee sits to collect pollen. But camouflaged as a flower, there already lurks a white crab spider on prey. This risky situation in turn exploits a parasitic fly that has just landed unnoticed on the back of the bee.

Watchful ant

In the Behavioral Ecology category, the photograph of a bug-headed ant of the genus Ectatomma won by Mailis Huguin in French Guiana. "This ant is in eight-position with a determination that seems to say that this leaf is the most important thing in the world for her, " comments Mazzi.

Juror Darimont adds: "This ant appears territorial, but at the same time it seems to say, 'I am an individual and I also count!' which is almost funny because this ant is very likely just a tiny part of a big social group. "

Pragmatic coastal terns: This bird's nest nests in a scoop-filled shovel. Const David Constanini / BMC Ecology, CC-by-sa 4.0

The excellent pictures also include a koala resting very relaxed on a branch, as an example of a popular but endangered species. In addition, there is a pair of long-tailed terns brooding in a shovel - in perfect adaptation to man-made occasions. Also placed is a photo of the "Last Dragon of Andalusia" - a chameleon sitting in an orchard. These animals are severely threatened in Spain because of the loss of their habitat.

Click here for the slideshow with some of the excellent photos.

(BioMed Central, 18.08.2017 - NPO)