Site icon Conservation news

Photos: Here are the winners of the 2018 British Ecological Society photo contest

Stand out from the crowd. Marion Island (Prince Edward Islands)

  • Chris Oosthuizen of South Africa’s University of Pretoria won the top prize in the British Ecological Society’s “Capturing Ecology” photo competition this year with an image of a single colorful adult king penguin amidst a crowd of brown-colored chicks on Marion Island, part of the Prince Edward Islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Oosthuizen is hopeful that the prize-winning photo might help draw attention to the challenges king penguins face due to the impacts of human activities. “Although the global population of king penguins is large, populations inhabiting islands around the Antarctic face an uncertain future,” he said.
  • In total, some 16 images were recognized this year by the British Ecological Society. “Capturing flora and fauna from across the planet, subjects range from African wild dog research to an artistic take on Galapagos iguanas to images exploring the relationships between people and nature,” the group said in a statement.

A king penguin standing out starkly from the crowd took the top prize in the British Ecological Society’s “Capturing Ecology” photo competition this year.

Chris Oosthuizen of South Africa’s University of Pretoria snapped the winning image of a single colorful adult king penguin amidst a crowd of brown-colored chicks on Marion Island, part of the Prince Edward Islands in the Indian Ocean. The photo was taken while Oosthuizen spent a year on the remote, sub-Antarctic island researching seals and killer whales.

“Some images have the power to say much more than words, and Chris’s image, which showcases the remarkable colony life of an iconic bird species, raises awareness of their uncertain future due to climate change,” Richard Bardgett, President of the British Ecological Society, said in a statement.

Oosthuizen, for his part, also seemed hopeful that the prize-winning photo might help draw attention to the challenges king penguins face due to the impacts of human activities. “Although the global population of king penguins is large, populations inhabiting islands around the Antarctic face an uncertain future,” he said. “Global climate change may shift the oceanic fronts where they feed further away from breeding sites, forcing penguins to travel farther to reach their foraging grounds.”

Adrià López Baucells, a PhD student at Portugal’s University of Lisbon, was the overall student winner of this year’s Capturing Ecology contest. López Baucells and his colleague Oriol Massana used a motion sensor and four synchronized flashes to capture a fringe-lipped bat in mid-flight as it preys on an unsuspecting frog of the genus Scinax.

Overall Student Winner: Adrià López Baucells, University of Lisbon. “Shadows in the sky.” Manaus, Brazil.”The neotropical fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus) is a medium-sized bat found in dry and moist forests extending from Mexico to Brazil. The species is easily identified by its prominent papilla-like projections on the lips and muzzle. This is one of the few neotropical bats known to capture and prey on vertebrate species. Actually, fringe-lipped bats are known mostly for their frog-eating habits. However, their diet is still poorly understood in the Amazon.”We reported two events of fringe-lipped bats preying on tree frogs (Scinax cf. garbei and Scinax cruentommus) in the North-Western Journal of Zoology in 2016. Taking advantage of our long fieldwork carried out for the PDBFF project (Projeto Dinâmica Biológica de Fragmentos Florestais) in the central Amazon, we managed to photograph a fringe-lipped bat approaching one of their newly discovered targets.”

As part of his research, López Baucells uses acoustic recordings to document the effects of Amazonian rainforest fragmentation on bat foraging behaviors — and he appeared on the Mongabay Newscast in October 2017 to play some of the recordings informing his research and explain how they have led to new species being found in the central Amazon for the first time.

In total, some 16 images were recognized this year by the British Ecological Society. “Capturing flora and fauna from across the planet, subjects range from African wild dog research to an artistic take on Galapagos iguanas to images exploring the relationships between people and nature,” the group said in a statement.

“The high standard of submissions this year made selecting winners a big challenge. Some entries captured fleeting and intimate insights into animals’ lives, which requires technical prowess and patience to achieve,” Bardgett said. “We congratulate all winners and thank all the participants for their submissions.”

All of the winning images, the rest of which are displayed below, will be on display at the British Ecological Society’s annual conference next month and will also be shown at a free, public exhibition in London from 21-27 January 2019.

Overall Winner: Chris Oosthuizen, University of Pretoria. “Stand out from the crowd.” Marion Island (Prince Edward Islands).”An adult king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) stands surrounded by king penguin chicks in a large breeding colony at Marion Island. King penguin populations inhabiting Subantarctic islands such as Marion Island face an uncertain future, as global climate change may shift oceanic fronts, where they feed, further away from breeding sites.”
Overall Runner-Up: Roberto García-Roa, University of Valencia. “Living fossil.” Morocco.”Cerastes vipera is one of the snake species that live buried in the sand to adapt to the warm conditions of the environment. Each scale of its body is shaped like a small spoon that is used with a hypnotic movement to go into the sand, avoid predators and wait for prey.”
Overall Runner-Up: Peter J Hudson, Penn State University. “Pollination!” Arizona, USA.”Bats act as disease reservoirs for emerging infections and our studies in Australia have shown they only transmit Hendra to horses and people when they are starving. We now have evidence that this is caused by deforestation and have started a rewilding of native trees.”
Up Close and Personal Category Winner: Roberto García-Roa, University of Valencia. “Web of life.” Spain.”Only going really close to them one can see that spiders, which are usually hated by a big part of society, are also vulnerable. The spider web is their safeguard where they eat, mate and are protected from most potential predators, so they build a web of life in their dark and small world. Only the beauty of this animals is comparable to the bad reputation this group has.”
Up Close and Personal Category Student Winner: Student winner: Alex Edwards, University of Plymouth. “Look into my eyes.” Costa Rica.”Whilst studying herpetofauna in the Area de Conservación Guanacaste, in Costa Rica, I came across this fantastic little Powdered Glass Frog (Teratohyla pulverata) perched on a leaf in the rainforest.”
Dynamic Ecosystems Category Winner: Chris Oosthuizen, University of Pretoria. “Stinkpot special: Penguin a la King.” Marion Island (Prince Edward Islands).”A southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), also known as a stinker or stinkpot, preys on a young king penguin chick (Aptenodytes patagonicus), while adult king penguins look on. Despite their extensive reliance on carrion, southern giant petrels are apt terrestrial predators, and predatory interactions between petrels and penguins are common.”
Dynamic Ecosystems Category Student Winner: Sandra Angers-Blondin, University of Edinburgh. “Fox on the hunt.” Canada.”A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) hunting for tundra voles and lemmings in the Canadian Arctic. Foxes can sense their prey scurrying in the grass or snow, and jump to attack from above. I watched this particular fox over several days, and most of his hunts were successful.”
Individuals and Populations Category Winner: Adrià López Baucells, University of Lisbon. “Flying in the rain.” Manaus, Brazil.”If I was asked to pick one representative bat species in the Amazon, I would choose the Seba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata) without hesitation. It is one of the most common species in the Amazon region and is superabundant in young forests and regrowth vegetation, where it feeds on juicy fruits from pioneering plants such as Vismia or Cecropia. The Seba’s short-tailed bat is one of those species that many people forget due to its commonness as our attention is focused on rare and surprising sightings. However, most of the essential ecosystem services on which our survival depends, such as seed dispersal, forest regeneration and recovery, will be carried out by species like C. perspicillata.”
Individuals and Populations Category Student Winner: Adrià López Baucells, University of Lisbon. “Climbing in the tropics.” Manaus, Brazil.”While walking in the pristine Amazon rainforest looking for bat roosts and selecting spots to set up our mist nets to capture bats for our scientific research, a faint and almost imperceptible noise suddenly caught our attention just above our heads. An outstanding anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) was climbing with exceptional ability in a tangled mess of branches and lianas. With an enjoyable smile and unbelievable calmness, the animal observed our movements, inspected how we took the camera out of our bags, slowly and smoothly, and examined our agitation. He seemed to enjoy being the subject of a photography session in the most biodiverse ecosystem on Earth. He then continued climbing up to the canopy where we eventually lost sight of him.”
Ecology in Action Category Winner: Dominik Behr, University of Zurich and Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. “The tables have turned.” Okavango Delta, Botswana.”This image shows an African wild dog pup playing with a tranquilizer dart. After we anaesthetised an adult individual in a pack, this pup was giving us a hard time to recover the dart and seemed very proud of his newly found toy.”
Ecology in Action Category Student Winner: Ella Cooke, BSc Ecology and Conservation. “UV beetle tracking.””The unique and innovative opportunity to track invertebrates using ultraviolet powder and torches was a big highlight of the British Ecological Society’s 2018 Summer School for me. The dark environment, coupled with the vibrant colours, presented some challenging yet exciting conditions to test my wildlife photography skills in.”
People and Nature Category Winner: Nibedita Mukherjee, University of Exeter. “Man in mangrove.” Kerala, India.”The value of mangrove ecosystems to local communities and particularly to traditional fishermen around the world is well recognised. This picture was taken during the early hours of the morning while we both were doing our respective ‘fieldwork.'”
People and Nature Category Student Winner: Lydia Gibson, University College London. “Birds of a feather.” Greater Antilles.”Bird hunting is part of rural Caribbean culture and a mechanism through which other associated forest lore and tradition – such as wayfinding and plant knowledge that can improve conservation science – are maintained. This photograph, taken in a newly designated protected area, captures the complex biological and cultural considerations of hunting threatened parrots.”
The Art of Ecology Category Winner: Mark Tatchell, retired ecologist. “Marine iguanas warm up.” Galapagos Islands.”Marine iguanas on the Galapagos Islands need to warm up each day before they can become active. These individuals had climbed onto a washed up tree stump on the beach on Isabela Island to catch the sun’s rays. The black and white image enhances the drama of the habitat.”
The Art of Ecology Category Student Winner: Mathilde Le Moullec, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “Can you feel the harsh climate of the high Arctic?” Svalbard, Norway.”Shrub ring-growth is irregular under the high-arctic Svalbard climate. The story started onboard a sailboat at the northern distribution margin of shrubs. Months in the laboratory generated 2 mm cross-sections of Salix polaris… Art became science, developing ring-growth time-series retrospectively tracking vascular plants’ biomass.”