Jun 11

Jenni Lacey from the Society of Biology explores inspiration for this year’s photography competition

The Society of Biology’s amateur photography competition is currently open for entries. This year’s topic is ‘Feeding Life’ which neatly compliments the recent World Environment Day theme of ‘Think.Eat.Save’. Food consumption and its global impact is at the forefront of current environmental research, policy decisions and the public’s mind as we’re encouraged to remain economical and thoughtful around our eating habits.

So, it seems timely to celebrate some of nature’s prudent and opportunistic feeders, who also offer a valuable lesson in self-control and a warning of the dangers of overeating.

Nature’s overeaters

The ornate horned frog (Ceratophrys ornata) at first glance is quite a comical character – with its large, wide mouth and rotund body, it seems harmless. They are not built for speed but instead lie in wait, conserving their energy and waiting to ambush passing prey. They are indiscriminate feeders and therein lies their talent: they make the most of their surroundings and their physique, thriving in the rainforests of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Surviving on a diet of insects, rodents, lizards and other frogs, they will pounce and attempt to swallow almost anything that passes.

Ornate horned frog eating mouse prey           Ornate horned frog eating worm

With a stark similarity to humans, their sedentary behaviour can result in problems; in environments where food is abundant their voracious appetite can cause them to overeat and become obese. They will keep eating as long as food is placed in their path. This is particularly the case when they are kept in captivity as pets, owners must carefully monitor their behaviour and tailor the amount of food they feed the frogs accordingly.

Humans don’t have the safeguard of a loving owner to oversee their diets so it is our own responsibility to consider our eating habits and help reduce the waste of food resources. Not only are we in danger of affecting our own health but we will rapidly exhaust food and energy supplies: global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Get involved

The Society of Biology is seeking photographs that encapsulate the topic ‘Feeding Life’. The photograph could address a challenging issue like food security and waste, or malnutrition, obesity, and other diet-linked diseases. It could provide insight into the feeding behaviour of a plant or animal species including predators and parasites. Or it could illustrate how we are manipulating our diets using GM and other biological techniques. Whether illustrated on a global, organismal, cellular or molecular scale, the photograph should draw attention to the topic of food and biology in a unique and thought-provoking way.

If you wish to enter the Society of Biology photography competition visit its website for full details on how to enter.