The Incredible Beauty Of Life On Earth [PHOTOS]

Laetitia KernaleguenThe stunning variety and beauty of life around us is on display in this year’s BioMed Central’s Ecology Image Competition. The contest was open to any scientist affiliated with a research institution.

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“It struck me that professional ecologists might view the natural world differently to wildlife photographers or amateur naturalists,” Simon Harold, editor of the journals, which cover all sorts of biology and life sciences, said in a press release.

“This competition was a means for these researchers to show off what they find so compelling about the research to which they have dedicated their working lives — from the world of lowly arctic bacteria, to richly biodiverse tropics,” he said.

We’ve rounded up the winners and some honorable mentions from the competition.

A stick insect (Timema poppensis) almost completely blends into a coast redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens). The eye behind the winning image is Moritz Muschick from the University of Sheffield.

Laetitia Kernaleguen won the behavioural and Physiological Ecology category for her photo of two male Southern elephant seals in bloody battle over a harem of females.

First place in the Community, Population and Macroecology category went to Michael Siva-Jothy for his shot of a Scarce swallowtail and a Polistine wasp converging on a Scabius flower.

This Galapagos tortoise trudges along a man-made road on Santa Cruz island. Hara Woltz won the Conservation Ecology and Biodiversity Research category for her subtle reminder on how human development impacts animal habitat.

This photo of a subalpine flower meadow in Colorado made Benjamin Blonder of the University of Arizona the overall runner-up in the competition. The green of leaves and grasses comes from the chemicals that enable the plants to feed off sunlight and survive, while the brightly coloured flowers are what attract insects who pollinate them and help them reproduce.

What if this were your office? Raf Aerts's photo of the field biologist at work in an old growth forest in Peru was the Editor's Pick.

Terracing is an ancient farming practice that has allowed people to farm steep slopes in mountainous or hilly areas. Yulin Jia's photo of a terraced rice paddy in Yuanyang, China won the Landscape Ecology and Ecosystems category.

Two frogs leap for their lives as a duck jumps onto a branch in a pond. This photo was taken by Thomas Jensen of the Medical Prognosis Institute in Denmark.

It may stink to humans, but blowflies adore the stench of a rotting flower — it means a good meal is near. Taken by Ong Poh Teck of the Forest Research Institute, Malaysia.

Benjamin Blonder snapped this magnetic glimpse of an iridescent hoverfly in Puerto Rico.

The University of Lausanne's Sylvain Dubey earned some praise for this photo of two bulldog ants squaring off.

Small crabs often live on sea turtles and prey on the barnacles or other harmless parasites that grow on their hosts. This one was glimpsed by Maristella D'Addario of the University of Rome.

When wind blows over tiny dinoflagellates (a form of plankton), it triggers a chemical reaction that makes the water glow a luminous blue. The University of Stellenbosch's Bruce Anderson caught this ethereal display at twilight.

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