Photography Contest: Finalists, Threatened or Endangered

| 16 Comments

Note: Matt Young directed the selection of the finalists and wrote most of this text.

We received approximately 60 photographs from 20 photographers. Most of the pictures were excellent. Approximately half represented endangered or invasive species, very loosely defined. We therefore established 3 categories: general, threatened or endangered, and invasive.

Choosing finalists was difficult. We considered what we thought was the scientific and pictorial qualities of the photographs, and also attempted to represent as many photographers and present as much variety as possible. The text was written by the photographers and lightly edited for style.

Here are the finalists in the threatened or endangered category. Please look through them before voting for your favorite. We know it is possible to game these polls. Please act like adults and don’t vote more than once. If we believe that the results are invalid, the contest will be canceled. The photos and poll are below the fold.

The Talk Origins Archive Foundation will provide the winner with an autographed copy of Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails), by Matt Young and Paul Strode?

  • Ursus maritimus, polar bear, by Dan Moore — The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food. It states, "If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years."
  • Ommatius sp., robber fly, by Pete Moulton — with a leafhopper for breakfast, confluence of Rio Verde and Rio Salado north of Mesa, Arizona. Not an endangered species in and of itself, but representative of Arizona's rapidly disappearing riparian habitats
  • Lepyronia angulifera, angular spittlebug, by Jim Kramer — It is classified as threatened due to habitat destruction. If you do a Google image search on Lepyronia angulifera, you will find about 18 images of the insect; 7 of them are mine, representing two specimens. That alone suggests that "threatened" may be insufficient.
  • Stalagmite made of ice in a high-altitude lava tube in Arizona, by James Rice — Cold air seeps into the cave in winter, becoming trapped. As liquid water from the overlying rock drips in, it is flash-frozen by the cold, forming this beautiful natural ice sculpture.
  • Rhynchostylis retusa, foxtail orchid, by Buddhini Samarasinghe — Plant is native to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. The plant is on the verge of extinction in India because of bio-piracy.
  • Canis lupus baileyi, Mexican gray wolf, by Dan Stodola — A subspecies of the gray wolf. Was intentionally eradicated from the wild to protect domestic livestock. Has now been reintroduced to a limited range in Arizona. Photo taken at Brookfield Zoo.

Which photo best captures both artistic and scientific beauty?

View results

16 Comments

A difficult one this time; I couldn’t decide between the wolf and the polar bears. Eventually I tossed a coin and went for the wolf.

I went with the robber fly because of the clarity and composition

I went with the wolf because it’s fluffy.

I go for the robber fly too. It’s a little monster, but it’s such a meticulous shot. Like to see it in hi-res.

Same reaction myself, though I finally opted for the wolf since I’m a former Arizona resident and followed conservation efforts there:

Wayne Robinson said:

A difficult one this time; I couldn’t decide between the wolf and the polar bears. Eventually I tossed a coin and went for the wolf.

This is a tough one. I was inclined to the ice stalagmite, but it is ephemera. If there had been some intention to use it for some scientific study, say climate study.

For pretty, I’d pick the orchid. But, the photo was not technically very good.

I voted the spittle bug. They are minimally rare, and I suspect harder to find, let alone photograph than the other critters.

I chose the ice stalagmite because its a great picture, and something I’ve never seen before - even in pictures. Didn’t want to vote for a robber fly in two categories and have voted with my wallet for preservation of bears and wolves :)

The spittlebug for me too. I don’t know why, but it just seems so unreal; more like a tiny spaceship than an insect.

It looks like the wolf is the runaway favorite, however.

Once again, the text accompanying the photographs, in order:

Ursus maritimus, polar bear, by Dan Moore — The IUCN now lists global warming as the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food. It states, “If climatic trends continue polar bears may become extirpated from most of their range within 100 years.”

Ommatius sp., robber fly, by Pete Moulton — with a leafhopper for breakfast, confluence of Rio Verde and Rio Salado north of Mesa, Arizona. Not an endangered species in and of itself, but representative of Arizona’s rapidly disappearing riparian habitats

Lepyronia angulifera, angular spittlebug, by Jim Kramer — It is classified as threatened due to habitat destruction. If you do a Google image search on Lepyronia angulifera, you will find about 18 images of the insect; 7 of them are mine, representing two specimens. That alone suggests that “threatened” may be insufficient.

Stalagmite made of ice in a high-altitude lava tube in Arizona, by James Rice — Cold air seeps into the cave in winter, becoming trapped. As liquid water from the overlying rock drips in, it is flash-frozen by the cold, forming this beautiful natural ice sculpture.

Rhynchostylis retusa, foxtail orchid, by Buddhini Samarasinghe — Plant is native to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. The plant is on the verge of extinction in India because of bio-piracy.

Canis lupus baileyi, Mexican gray wolf, by Dan Stodola — A subspecies of the gray wolf. Was intentionally eradicated from the wild to protect domestic livestock. Has now been reintroduced to a limited range in Arizona. Photo taken at Brookfield Zoo.

Hopefully all those tags work…

Polar bears were it for me. The composition is gorgeous. Their color against the pure white ice is stunning and the glassy blue water grounds the photo beautifully.

Plus they are cute.

I’d like to thank everyone who voted for the Ice Stalagmite. As soon as I saw the wolf picture though, I knew I didn’t have a chance. *grin* Because of it’s location, the stalagmite would be difficult to study long term. The previous day, I was surveying in a newly discovered and not yet explored cave near by. I also have to thank my friend Doug, who not only showed me this cave, but also sat perfectly still for the 20 second exposure that stalagmite photo took, as well as sitting still for all the other photos I took in that cave but didn’t use.

Yeah, James, I knew we were all finished when that wolf popped up. *big grin* Being from Arizona, I have a special place in my heart for the Mexican Gray Wolf anyway, and this lovely shot just seals the deal. My congratulations to Dan Stodola on his beautiful photograph, and my great thanks to all who voted for the robber.

I dunno why it’s always the furry megafauna that get the prizes. [Grump]

I dunno why it’s always the furry megafauna that get the prizes. [Grump]

Yeah, you’d think they’d be more likely to produce fuzzy images in the pictures…

RBH said:

I dunno why it’s always the furry megafauna that get the prizes. [Grump]

Next year I shall endeavor to photograph a moodily lit planarium for you.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on August 16, 2010 12:00 PM.

Futurama: Evolution under Attack was the previous entry in this blog.

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