This assignment ran from Mar 1 to Mar 21, 2014.

How much life can you find around you?

An environment's biodiversity is determined by the number of different species of plants and animals that inhabit it. The sample size can be as large as a forest or as small as your backyard. It can even be just a handful of earth. You can focus on a single group of creatures, a defined window of observation, or only animals of a certain size. Maybe it’s as simple as plants that live along a single transect. Show us what biodiversity looks like to you, and from these photos, we’ll find out what it means to you too. More...

Curated by:

David Liittschwager
National Geographic Photographer
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • Published

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Published Mar 28, 2014.
Thank you for your contributions!

Meet the Editors

Posted mar 14, 2014

The Your Shot team is coming to San Francisco for National Geographic’s BioBlitz, a 24-hour species count held March 28-29 in which scientists, explorers, photographers and community members will come together to identify plant, animal, insect, fungi and other organisms living in Golden Gate National Parks.

We want to invite the Your Shot community to join us for some special photography events during and after the BioBlitz. There are a few ways you can participate:

  1. Join a scientist-led inventory team to help identify species in Golden Gate National Parks. 
  2. Meet the Your Shot team for an Ask the Editors discussion at the BioBlitz festival on Saturday, March 29 at 11am, or attend a panel with National Geographic explorers and photographers. 
  3. Stick around after BioBlitz to join us for an exclusive Your Shot member meet-up Sunday, March 30. Photographers David Liittschwager, Anand Varma, and Richard Koci Hernandez will lead us on a photo walk through the Presidio.  An email will be sent to community members in California with more details on how to sign up for the photo walk.

If you can’t join us in person in San Francisco, submit to this assignment and your photos may be displayed at the event. We'll publish the biodiversity story at the festival and project the editor's favorites. And don't worry, we hope to do more of these events in the future—the Your Shot team may be coming to a city near you!

Citizen Scientist

Posted feb 28, 2014

I've spent weeks photographing just one cubic foot, and other times spent just a few hours documenting organisms from a much larger community. Use different tools to see your subjects, from SLR cameras to microscopes. It can be interesting to explore what happens to the types and numbers of creatures you see when you change the scale. Biological diversity is so broad that it can be useful to narrow your vision. Above all, challenge yourself.

I’ll leave you with a short excerpt from my One Cubic Foot story that I hope will inspire you.

“A small world awaits exploration. As the floras and faunas of the surface are examined more closely, the interlocking mechanisms of life are emerging in ever greater and more surprising detail. In time we will come fully to appreciate the magnificent little ecosystems that have fallen under our stewardship.” 

—Edward O. Wilson

David Liittschwager

David Liittschwager

National Geographic Photographer
David Liittschwager is a freelance photographer who, after working with Richard Avedon in New York in the '80s, left advertising to focus on portraiture and natural history. Now a regular contributor to National Geographic, Liittschwager has produced a number of books. Among his many honors is a World Press Photo Award in 2008 for his article “Marine Microfauna” in National Geographic.