Deadly fungus attacking a fly wins BMC Ecology and Evolution Photography Awards


The winners of the BMC Ecology and Evolution photography competition have just been announced. This year’s contest has served up a spectacular collection of images that capture nature in action, as well as the effects that climate change is having on animals around the world.

The competition attracted entries from ecologists and evolutionary biologists from around the world eager to show their creativity. BMC Ecology and Evolution invited anyone affiliated with a research institution to submit to one of four categories: ‘Relationships in Nature’, ‘Biodiversity under Threat’, ‘Life Close Up’ and ‘Research in Action’.

The overall winner captures a scene reminiscent of a science fiction film. A parasitic fungus erupts from the body of a dead fly. Roberto García-Roa, an evolutionary biologist and conservation photographer affiliated with the University of Valencia (Spain) and Lund University (Sweden), captured this unsettling image in the Peruvian jungle of Tambopata.

Overall winner

Fungus growing from Fly's body

The fruiting body of a parasitic fungus erupts from the body of its victim, in this case a dead fly in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Roberto García-Roa

Biodiversity under threat – winner

African elephants shelter under a baobab tree, as droughts strike Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa. On the tree, you can see marks where the elephants have stripped the bark to seek out water. Photo by Samantha Kreling

Life close-up – runner-up

Water anole lizards ( Anolis aquaticus) use a clever trick to dive underwater for long periods of time. They inhale and exhale from a bubble of air that clings to their snout, allowing them to stay submerged for almost 20 minutes. Oxygen from this bubble is depleted over the underwater dive, which likely helps water anoles remain underwater for so long. Photo by Lindsey Swierk

Research in action – winner

tadpole study scientists

Researchers investigate the effect of isolated trees and land use on how tadpoles ingest and excrete nutrients. The image was taken during a storm in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jeferson Ribeiro Amaral

Life close-up – winner

Gliding treefrog siblings ( Agalychnis spurrelli) at an early stage of their development within their eggs. The embryos’ bodies are clearly visible and distinct from their large green yolks and transparent external gills. This image also captures the details of individual pigment cells and yolk veins, which are becoming apparent on the upper surfaces of the embryos’ bodies and yolks. Photo by Brandon A Güell

Biodiversity under threat – runner-up

Wood frogs ( Rana sylvatica) are early spring breeders in temperate North America, and congregate in vernal pools soon after the ice melts to mate and produce egg masses. Lately, wood frogs are breeding earlier in the year as climate change has made the spring unseasonably warm. Unfortunately, winter storms can still catch frogs unexpectedly and trap them under the ice. Here, a male wood frog clings to an egg mass produced before a freeze. The frog survived, but many of the eggs did not. Photo by Lindsey Swierk

More images from Science Focus Magazine:

Research in action – runner up

Gliding tree frogs

The photo captures Brandon A Güell, a PhD student, amidst thousands of gliding treefrogs ( Agalychnis spurrelli), and their recently-laid eggs on palm fronds. This image was taken in a lowland tropical rainforest pond on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Photo by Brandon A Güell

Relationships in nature – winner

waxwing with berries

Bohemian waxwings ( Bombycilla garrulus), like this individual photographed in Finland, have a strong relationship with rowan trees due to their love for the berries the tree produces. This love of berries is so strong that the waxwing will migrate miles to get access to their favourite food. Photo by Alwin Hardenbol

Relationships in nature – runner-up

Bat captures and eats frog

A male tungara frog ( Physalalamus pustulosus) makes a tasty meal for a hungry fringe-lipped bat ( Trachops cirrhosis). The bat hunts the frog by detecting and locating the frog by listening to its mating call. The hearing of these bats has adapted to hear the low frequency mating calls of the frogs, and the salivary glands in the bat can neutralise the toxins in the skin of poisonous frog prey. Photo by Alexander T Baugh

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