Science & Environment

Hoverfly 'kissing a thistle' wins photo competition

hoverfly on a thistle Image copyright Alejandro Ruete
Image caption This shot of a hoverfly perched on a globe thistle, in the photographer's back garden, took the overall prize

Photos of flies, fish, snakes, seabirds, a decapitated butterfly and even a decaying zebra have been recognised in the British Ecological Society's annual photo competition.

More than 200 entries were received - a new record for the competition - showing scenes of the natural world spanning Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

The winning shot was taken in a back garden in Sweden by Alejandro Ruete, a PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He called his photo, which shows a hoverfly perched delicately on a globe thistle, "Kiss in the backyard".

"This is a tiny example of the ecology that is going on in our backyards," Mr Ruete said.

"A whole variety of species population dynamics and interactions can be found in a not-so-well-kept garden (like mine) while fostering the presence of native pollinators."

Image copyright GILLIAN LUI
Image caption "Walking the line" by Gillian Lui, showing farmers navigating rice paddies in Yunnan Province, China, won the student prize
Image copyright roxane andersen
Image caption The judges highly commended this photo from a Siberian bog, showing a dragonfly trapped by a carnivorous plant

The overall runner-up was a photo taken by Benjamin Blonder, from the University of Arizona, of isolated vegetation in the stark environment of Death Valley, California.

The competition is open to all members of British Ecological Society (BES) and the judges included their fellow ecologists, BES staff and BBC Wildlife Magazine's picture editor, Wanda Sowry.

The winning images in various categories are now on show at a joint meeting between the BES and the Societe Francaise d'Ecologie (SFE) in Lille, France.

Image copyright Benjamin Blonder
Image caption These hardy plants in Death Valley rely on sediment washed into the barren lake bed by rare rains
Image copyright silviu petrovan
Image caption This shot of a dice snake tasting the air from a pond in Romania won the "whole organisms and populations" category
Image copyright Peter Steward
Image caption A long exposure showing moths attracted to a flood lamp in Tsavo West National Park, Kenya, won the "ecology and society" category
Image copyright karine monceau
Image caption Caught in an act that only lasted a few seconds, these mating dragonflies won the "ecosystems and communities" category
Image copyright graeme shannon
Image caption This shot of an elephant matriarch leading her family to water was highly commended by the judges
Image copyright silviu petrovan
Image caption Overlooking historical Rome, this yellow-legged gull was also highly commended
Image copyright Peter Steward
Image caption Camouflage at work: An African flower mantis decapitates an unwary butterfly in another highly commended photo, taken in Kenya
Image copyright Leejiah Dorward
Image caption An adult gannet leads three immature birds through updrafts at the cliffs of Hermaness, the most northerly point of the British Isles
Image copyright Stephen Pringle
Image caption This dramatic image, also highly commended, shows blowflies gathering on a freshly dead young zebra to use it as a food store
Image copyright sonia valladares lago
Image caption A photo of sparidae fish finding safety in numbers won the "ecosystems and communities" category for students
Image copyright andrea barden
Image caption This newly-emerged butterfly, basking on a barley crop, has wings that are still slightly see-through: the spots are on the underside of its wings
Image copyright Jen Stockdale
Image caption A baby thrush being weighed took out the "ecology in action" category for students

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