A close up of a Kumlien's Gull’s eye, with speckled markings that aren’t quite what they appear, has been awarded Overall Winner in the British Ecological Society’s annual photography competition.


The winning images celebrate the diversity of ecology, capturing flora and fauna from across the planet.

Subjects range from a blood red snail feeding on dead man's fingers (a fungus found in the rainforests of India) to a rare sighting of the ‘fairy of the Valencian forests’, a recently discovered cave-dwelling bug in Spain.

Professor Jane Memmott, President of the British Ecological Society, said: "This year's photos are of a very high standard and are a pleasure to look through. Overall, the photographs capture a broad swath of biodiversity, from tiny mosses to giant bears".

The British Ecological Society (BES) is the oldest ecological society in the world. The BES promotes the study of ecology through its six academic journals, events, grants, education initiatives and policy work.

Overall winner - Kumlien's Gull and Friends

Kumlien's Gull and Friends_Rebecca Nason_2021_OverWinner
Kumlien's Gull (Larus glaucoides kumlieni) photographed sheltering from a winter storm in Lerwick, Shetland, UK, in April 2021. This particular gull is a sub species of Iceland Gull which breed in the Arctic regions of Canada. The spots around around the gull's eye are not some kind of unusual colouring, but are in fact lice, who appear to have hitched a ride. Photo by Rebecca Nason

Up close & personal student winner - Beauty in the (mini)beast

Photo by Jack Marcus Smith
High magnification portrait of a blowfly (family Calliphoridae). The photographer wanted to reveal the intricacy and beauty of what many consider a pest. Photo by Jack Marcus Smith

Overall student winner - Hidden Lynx

Photo by Dani Davis
A green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) rests on a budding Liatris with its bumblebee catch. Photographed in a bog in the Apalachicola National Forest in North Florida, USA. Green lynx spiders are masters of disguise, and are able to change colour to match their background plant. They wait for visiting pollinators and then pounce on their prey, like their namesake cat. Photo by Dani Davis

Dynamic ecosystems winner - Finger-lickin' good

It's finger lickin' good_Vijay Karthick_2021_CatWinner
Indrella ampulla, an endemic species of snail is an important soil invertebrate that breaks down organic matter in the rainforest floors of the Western Ghats mountain range in India. Here it is feeding on Xylaria polymorpha fungi, commonly known as dead man's fingers. Photo by Vijay Karthick

Art of ecology winner - Amazonian mosaic

Photo by Raul Costa-Pereira
In tropical rainforests, plants are often colonised by an astonishing diversity of organisms that grows on the surface of their leaves, such as epiphyllous mosses, lichens, and fungi. The photo shows the colorful mosaic of biodiversity on the leaves of an Amazonian palm tree in a forest near Manaus, Brazil. Photo by Raul Costa-Pereira

Dynamic ecosystems student winner - Quick catch

Photo by Dani Davis
A tiny Regal Jumping Spider (Phidippus regius) sits perched with a freshly caught Sulphur butterfly. Observed while visiting a bog near Sumatra, Florida, USA. Photo by Dani Davis

Individuals & Populations student winner - Poisonous sentinel

Photo by Jack-Marcus Smith
A granular poison dart frog (Oophaga granulifera) guarding his territory. Males will ferociously defend their territories from rivals, as well as unhatched eggs which they keep warm with their urine. This individual male was photographed in the late evening at Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Photo by Jack-Marcus Smith

Ecology in action winner - Bat one health

Photo by Pete Hudson
While many of us are suffering with vaccines and regular swabs, the poor bats are also being sampled. At the start of the pandemic, a team from Penn State University were in Bangladesh sampling fruit bats near locations where Nipah virus had recently infected humans. Photo by Pete Hudson

Up close & personal winner - Beautiful bryophyte

Photo by Alicia Hayden
With the colours of the sunset in the background, the whole scene of this moss growing on a wall in Cornwall, UK, looks like something from a tropical rainforest. It shows the extraordinary macro world all around us, and how there is beauty in the smallest of living things. Photo by Alicia Hayden

The art of ecology student winner - Spotlight

Photo by Alicia Hayden
This spider was spending a lot of time repairing its web, and the streetlamp highlighted the movement of its legs. This illustrates the urban wildlife which is not usually acknowledged, showing the great diversity of wildlife in our urban spaces. Photo by Alicia Hayden

Individuals & Populations winner - Fleeting race

Photo by Roberto García-Roa
A large flock of gulls perform a short but very quick flight to move around a field of rice during the first hours of the morning in Valencia, Spain. The fog in the environment and the fast movements of each individual is captured in this dynamic image. Photo by Roberto García-Roa

People and nature student winner - Nature's landmine

Photo by John Benjamin Owens
The Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) often resides within rice paddies. Accidentally stepped upon by agricultural workers, this viper is frequently involved in human-snake conflict, resulting in death and life changing injuries for millions of Indian people. Photo by John Benjamin Owens

Overall runner up - The fairy of the forests

Photo by Robert García-Roa
This is one of the few images of the 'fairy of the Valencian forests' (Valenciolenda fadaforesta), a cave-dwelling bug recently discovered in a few Spanish caves. Wonderful evidence of the extraordinary biodiversity hidden in the darkness of cave ecosystems. Photo by Robert García-Roa

Ecology in action student winner - Reintroduction in action

Photo by Joshua Powell
Conservation translocations such as species reintroductions, or reinforcements, are increasingly important tools in conservation ecology. In South Korea, vets from the Korea National Park Service prepare to transport a female Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus). Photo by Joshua Powell

People & nature winner - Tsunami

Photo by Molly Dunn
Dormant ivy vines reach across a roadside wall blackened at the bottom by car exhaust. The photograph was taken on a small, neighborhood street in Florence, Italy, in the early spring of 2021. Photo by Molly Dunn

Check out some of our other galleries:


Highly commended - Black over white

Photo by Doron Talmi
A large open-air garbage dump in the Jordan Valley, Israel, near the Tirzah Reservoir. Huge flocks of birds, mostly black starlings and white cattle egrets, are attracted to the food in the human trash and are all operating within a highly dynamic ecosystem. Photo by Doron Talmi

Highly commended - Why the long face?

Why The Long Face_Jack Marcus Smith_2021_HC
Portrait of an acorn weevil (Curculio glandium) perched on an oak leaf. This enigmatic little creature is renowned for its extravagant, elongated snout. Photo by Jack Marcus Smith

Highly commended - Master of the reeds

Taken in Espoo, Finland. Photo by Alwin Hardenbol
A bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) photographed gripping on to a reed in Espoo, Finland. Photo by Alwin Hardenbol

Highly commended - Dinner

damselfly eating spider. Photo by Merryn Thomas
A female emerald damselfly (Lestes sponsa) sits at a pool on the Gower peninsula, Wales, UK, munching on a garden spider (Araneus diadematus). Photo by Merryn Thomas

Highly commended - Reflections

Photo by Sam England
A glass-wing butterfly (Greta oto) rests on a leaf. These butterflies in fact have completely transparent wings, but by playing with the intensity of the camera flash the photographer created strong colourful reflections. Photo by Sam England


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs