Award-Winning Photos Taken During Actual Scientific Research This Year


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

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"Ant queen carrying larvae" by Julia Giehr (University of Regensburg, Germany).

If you need a gentle reminder that our planet is utterly mind-blowing, look no further.

The winners of the 2017 BMC Ecology Image Competition have been announced, showcasing everything from glorious wide landscapes to the tiniest of insects. All of these images come from real scientific research in progress in the field. Now in its fifth year, the competition was set up to show off the often underappreciated overlap between art and science.


The overall winning image was a portrait of giant South American turtles (Podocnemis expansa ) by Ana Carolina Lima from the University of Aveiro in Portugal. She managed to capture the shot while carrying out conservation research for this species in the Cantão State Park, of Tocantins, Brazil.

Overall Winner: "Podocnemis expansa" by Ana Carolina Lima (University of Aveiro)

"This image provides a rare, multilayered perspective from above. The photo is well composed, technically sound, and rich with wonderful geometry,” guest judge Chris Darimont, of the University of Victoria, Canada, said of Lima’s winning image in a statement.

There were 127 entries in total. On top of the winning photo, there were also overall runners-up and winners from five categories: Community, Population and Macroecology; Behavioral Ecology and Physiology; Conservation Ecology and Biodiversity; Landscape Ecology and Ecosystems; and Editor's Pick.

The first runner-up was something a little different to the overall winner. Christin Säwström of Edith Cowan University, Western Australia wooed the judges with her image "Two towers" (below) of the dream-like Antarctic landscape near the Davis station in June 2004.


Speaking about this photo, Chris Darimont commented the image is “not sharp in the low light environment, an effect that gives it a winter dreamy feel. Also, because of its softer edges, it resembles a painting. Owing to this uncertainty, it invites close and sustained examination. Whether by design or happenstance, this is a rare approach that produced an arresting image.”

First runner-up: "Two towers" by Christin Säwström

Second runner-up was an image by Roberto García-Roa of the University of Valencia, Spain entitled "Connections" (below) showing a crab spider, a bee, and a parasitic fly.

"Its title sums up what I like best here," Darimont said. "Typically in pictures with animals, one is drawn to the eyes of the larger, charismatic subjects, in this case, the spider or bee. In this image, however, the star is the smaller fly. This parasite, tack sharp, commands the attention it deserves as a major player in this interaction and in ecosystems in general.”

Check out some of the other Highly Commended entries below.

Second runner-up: "Connections" by Roberto García-Roa
Behavioral and Physiological Ecology winner: "Wakeful" by Maïlis Huguin (Institut Pasteur de la Guyane)
"The roar of the last Andalusian dragon" by Javier Ábalos Álvarez (University of Valencia, Spain)
"Peaceful Koala" by Arnaud Badiane (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
"Dolphin school" by Diogo Sayanda (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
"You better get the weight right!" by Dewald Kleynhans (University of Pretoria, South Africa)


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