From a resting tree boa backlit by a haze of orange glow to a three-toed sloth edging its way across the tarmac, the winning images in the 2019 British Ecological Society photography competition are both beautiful and eye-opening. Snapped by international ecologists and students, the winning photos serve to celebrate the diversity of flora and fauna from across the planet. 

Overall Winner: A Malagasy tree boa perches in a tree. Image © Roberto García Roa/Roberto García Roa

Roberto García Roa, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Valencia, landed the top prize for his image (above) of a Malagasy tree boa coiled up in an arboreal perch. "Unfortunately, many areas of Madagascar are suffering huge anthropic pressures including poaching and fires, and big snakes are becoming increasingly difficult to see," the photographer explained. "During my visit to Madagascar, I had the pleasure of finding this outstanding snake and photographing it. To offer a dramatic scenario reflecting the conditions that these snakes are suffering, I used an external red light as a source of light and severe blurring to capture the environment."

President of the British Ecological Society (BES), Professor Richard Bardgett called the image "remarkable" adding that it is a "deserving winner."

"This stunning image not only captures the beauty of the Malagasy tree boa, which is endemic to the island of Madagascar, but also its vulnerability, especially to hunting and fire. A remarkable image and deserving winner."

Other winning images featured a white rhino being dehorned (as an anti-poaching measure) and a stunning shot of a male plumbeous water-redstart on the hunt for insect prey.

Overall Student Winner: A Plumbeous water redstart waits by the cascades to catch a mayfly or stonefly for a meal. Image © Nilanjan Chatterjee/British Ecologial Society

"The standard of the competition is remarkable, with many outstanding photographs being submitted in 2019," Bardgett said. "Entries this year portrayed the incredible visual diversity of ecology, with images capturing the vibrancy and intimate detail of their subjects. I congratulate all winners and thank all the participants for their submissions."

The winning images will be exhibited at the BES's annual conference in Belfast, between 10 and 13 December, before moving on to the Ulster Museum from 11 February 2020.

People and Nature Category Winner: A female three-toed sloth Image © Andrew Whitworth/British Ecological Society
The Art of Ecology Category Winner: A flock of flamingos fly high over Lake Magadi in a heart shape. Image © Peter Hudson/British Ecological Society
Overall Runner Up: A birch forest in autumn. Image © Mikhail Kapychka/British Ecological Society
Individuals and Populations Category Winner: Leafcutter bee offspring in nests made from ovate leaf cuttings thoroughly arranged in multiple buffering layers by their mother bees. Image © Felix Fornoff/British Ecological Society
Dynamic Ecosystems Category Winner: A cow and a chimango contemplate together the breath-taking Beagle Channel in the southernmost mountains of the Andes. Image © Pablo Javier Merlo/British Ecological Society
Ecology in Action (Student Winner): Drones are used to capture the bigger picture of how climate change is altering northern ecosystems. This photo was taken on an expedition supported by the National Geographic Society.. Image © Gergana Daskalova/British Ecological Society
Individuals and Populations (Student Winner): A cloudy snake fixes its gaze on succulent prey. Image © Khristian V. Valencia/British Ecological Society
Up Close and Personal (Student Winner): A harlequin frog exhibits one of its less common morphs in the shade of the leaves of the Chocó understory. Image © Khristian V. Valencia/British Ecological Society
Up Close and Personal Category Winner: A small scorpion in Madagascar glows under UV light. The function of fluorescence is still unclear. Image © Roberto García Roa/British Ecological Society
Dynamic Ecosystems Category Winner: A small spider found in Malaysia captures a comparatively huge ant. Image © Roberto García Roa/British Ecological Society
People and Nature (Student Winner): A human silhouette is dwarfed by the size of a retrogressive thaw slump on Qikiqtaruk-Herschel Island in Canada. The shifts resulting from these slumps can echo through the whole ecosystem. This photo was taken on an expedition supported by the National Geographic Society. Image © Gergana Daskalova/British Ecological Society
Ecology in Action Category Winner: A rhino gets its horn trimmed. This is done annually to help protect it from poaching. Image © Molly Penny/British Ecological Society
The Art of Ecology (Student Winner): This tiny mushroom, a Mycena spp., was growing inside a rotten tree trunk. Due to the microclimatic conditions inside the trunk, condensation had formed on the Mycena. Image © Sanne Govaert/British Ecological Society