Photo: Kristian Bell
2020 Photo Competition

Photo Competition Winners Announced

Winning images from the annual Ecology in Action Photo Competition have been announced at the Ecological Society of Australia Conference.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the ESA photo competition. To celebrate, a ‘Best of the Decade’ peoples choice category brought together all the place-winning images from the last ten years in a gallery of almost 150 of Australia’s best nature photographs. The winning image was ‘EYE Witnessing Nocturnal Pollination’ by Lisa Evans. A full list of winners can be found below.

Full image gallery available at: https://www.ecolsoc.org.au/competition/2020-ecology-in-action-photo-comp/shortlisted/

Further, in acknowledgment of the disruption to working conditions caused by Covid-19 this year, a new ‘Ecology in Isolation’ category was also created to illustrate how lockdown or similar restrictions affected the work of ecologists around Australia.

“The way in which we teach ecology has changed dramatically this year,” says winning entrant Jacinta Humphrey. “Academics and students alike faced new challenges as they transitioned to online learning.”

Humphrey was awarded first place for her accurate portrayal and description of her “anxiety when the university shut down in week 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic [and she] was suddenly faced with the daunting task of teaching 90 third-year students from [her] dining room table.”

“Ecology during lockdown was difficult for many reasons,” says competition judge Alan Kwok. “The inability to travel has put a speed bump in many a dataset. Soft toys were as close as many could get to real animal survey. But perhaps one of the highest hurdles 2020 gave to ecologists (and the broader community) was the changes to how teaching was to happen. Ecologists and educators have done a fantastic job given that they had to whip this up basically overnight – as Jacinta explains with her winning image, as well as the fact she “survived” – a phrase I’m sure we’ve heard from everyone we know involved in teaching this year!”

For more information contact: Grace Heathcote; Ecological Society of Australia on 0404 542 523 or media@ecolsoc.org.au

 

‘BEST OF THE DECADE’ 


OVERALL WINNER (also 1st place in Out Standing in the Field: Ecologists in Action)

LISA EVANS – EYE Witnessing Nocturnal Pollination’

Who says pollination biologists require sunny days for field work…. this one is in his element looking for pollen on nocturnal pollinators! Papaya flowers are pretty quiet during the day but just after dusk it is a different story, with hawk moths (Sphingidae) whizzing between flowers as they feed on nectar.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st place in Beneath Southern Skies: Unique Australian Landscapes

RAOUL RIBOT – ‘Dry Forest’
After years of drought, a eucalyptus forest on the riverbanks of the Murrumbidgee River is left dry and dusty in 2009. The drought in the southern part of Australia had significant impact on the Murray-Darling basin and its riparian landscape.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

1st place in Niches and Hollows: Adaptive Behaviour and Australian Biodiversity

RICHARD WYLIE – ‘Enchanted Dragon’

Weedy Seadragons are the only members of the genus Phyllopteryx and are endemic to sub-temperate and temperate Australian waters and are listed by the IUCN as Near Threatened. This individual can usually be found underneath Flinders Pier and with a late afternoon sun slanting through the water the scene resembled an enchanted garden, complete with an obliging dragon or two.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

1st place in Miscellaneous (categories run only once – A Student’s Life in the Field; Sent from My Mobile; Tasman Linkage; When No-one’s Watching)

PAMELA WALSH – ‘Cuckoo wasp’
This was the first time I had ever seen a cuckoo wasp, very noisy when in flight, my heart was pounding from fear and excitement as at the time I didn’t know if it was dangerous, just gorgeous. Image here, must be credited to photographer and ESA.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st place in Best Portfolio

CHARLES DAVIS

‘The Ascent’
The snow covered Australian Alps in the middle of winter is not somewhere you would expect to find one of Australia’s most interesting, short wheel based creatures. Echidnas are not commonly seen in the snow and even less so as high as this one. Taken near Mt Twynam this picture shows just how varied the ecological niches are that echidnas can live in.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guthega Wombat

A common wombat negotiates the deep snow in search of food after days of heavy snowstorms. These wombats inhabit many different sorts of environments from rainforests to the high snowy alps. photographed at 1900 meters above sea level this is one of Australia’s highest living mammals.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Eagles View

A large sea eagle flys over a wild scrub bull standing on an isolated river beach deep in the Kimberley. Not often do you get to see the world through the eyes of an eagle. Below it’s visible just how much impact the cattle have on the soft river sands with their massive weight and hard hoofs.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kings Creek Ormiston

Ormiston Gorge at sunrise, a life-giving oasis in a dry arid environment. The water that this gorge holds during the hot summer months is an invaluable resource to the many creatures that call this harsh environment home.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelicans of the King Sound

The King Sound at the mouth of the Kimberleys mighty Fitzroy River is a diverse and amazing tidal system. Thousands of Pelicans traverse the multiple channels and inlets that feed this system, with an amazing variety of colour and wildlife this is truly one of Australia’s great gems.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

‘ECOLOGY IN ISOLATION’ 

1st Place

Jacinta Humphrey – See you in the Zoom Room

Before March 2020, I had never taught in an online format. I’d never heard of Zoom, Teams or Slido. And I’d never uttered the phrase “You’re on mute”.

The way in which we teach ecology has changed dramatically this year. Academics and students alike faced new challenges as they transitioned to online learning (myself included!). Earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity to take on a more senior teaching role, coordinating workshops for the subject Endangered Species Biology, at La Trobe University. I jumped at the chance, but my enthusiasm soon turned to anxiety when the university shut down in week 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was suddenly faced with the daunting task of teaching 90 third-year students from my dining room table.

Somehow, we made it work and I survived the semester! I was so thankful to the students who continued to turn up and engage with the content, despite all the changes to our daily lives. I sincerely hope we can return to face-to-face teaching in 2021, but until then, I’ll see you in the Zoom room.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st Runner Up

Rosalie Harris – Desert Women

Ten highly capable women from the Living on The Edge team wrap up their spring field trip to the desert in a 2020 socially distanced-style. The team studies how plants cope in extreme temperatures and identifies species likely vulnerable to climate warming. This diverse team has a range of skill sets and experience from professors to undergraduate interns to volunteers straight out of high school to research assistants to PhD students to potential honours students. We got what we came for and more whilst absolutely awe-struck by the beauty of a spring desert with everything in flower.

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd Runner Up

David Hamilton – Collecting Quollity Data

It can be challenging for ecologists to continue collecting high quollity data whilst isolation – sometimes you have to get creative…

Image must be credited to photographer and ESA.

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