Biodiversity

Published Mar 28, 2014 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 24 Contributors

    24 photos selected by

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer
    • 0

    A Clown Frogfish (Antennarius maculatus) rests on its pectoral fins next to a stalked tunicate (O...

    #sea_squirt #ascidian #frogfish

    How much life can you find around you? Apparently quite a lot if the 15,672 pictures submitted for the Biodiversity assignment are any indication. I started looking at the images while I was working on a biological survey of Tetiaroa Atoll in French Polynesia, then looked at the next group of images while in Bermuda, where we were starting a survey of Nonsuch Island. 

    I saw everything from elephants—mammals that are considerably bigger than we are—to an amphipod, a tiny arthropod scarcely bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. Creatures of the air like birds, butterflies, and moths were also in great abundance, as were creatures of the sea, from urchins, sharks, and sponges to tunicates, coral, jellyfish, and nudibranchs.

    I applaud those of you that have attempted to show a community of creatures, including several species in one picture. I know from years of experience that this is a lot easier to say than it is to do. Nature loves to hide, and so I find that as soon as you have three or four different things in the picture and the edges of things start to overlap, it can get hard to see individuals. 

    Found this strange net which had trapped more than 100 worms the size of caterpillars in a park i...

    #park #net #food #worms #florida #nature

    Editor's Note

    Dear Rekha, From what I know the creatures are Tent Caterpillars and they are starting to disperse. I like the abundance and the context that are shown in the picture. Thank you, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    There is an ethereal, otherworldly feeling to this photograph, as this little island in the middl...

    #landscape #island #clouds #lake #reflection #sky #trees #water #nature #yourshotbook

    Reed frog blending in with water lily awaits his meal of flies- botswana

    #reed #botswana #flies #frog #camouflage #nature

    This spider was disturbed from it's hiding place when I was gardening. Its large eyes provide ou...

    #landscape #letsexplore #biodiversity #greatnature #macro #animal #spider #themoment #nature

    Editor's Note

    Dear Cheryl, Thank you for getting down to the scale in which most of the world's diversity lives. The insight into the spider's vision and that they have "new eyes to see" each night is fascinating. This picture and the story will stick in my mind. Best, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    Close up of some mushrooms I saw on a tree trunk. I found the light and setting a bit magical and...

    #mushroom #closeup #blue #fungus #macro #fairytale #light #denmark #nature

    Cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae.) The plant is Romneya coulteri, Matilija Poppy.

    #butterfly #pierisrapae #cabbagewhite

    An underwater small 8x10 inch section of the Frederiksted pier in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands....

    #usvi #frederiksted #biodiversity #pier #stcroix

    Editor's Note

    Dear Adrian, Very nice colors. I am interested to know if the saturation has been enhanced. I have seen many very brightly colored assemblages of such things but not the bright blue. Best, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    I also have a personal affinity for photographing individuals as a way to portray biological diversity: All the pieces fit together, ecosystems/habitats are made up of the species that inhabit them, and those species are made up of individuals. 

    The spectacle of abundance was also part of the diversity that many chose to share. Abundance is often critical to the maintenance of diversity.    

    This is a Triple Fin Blenny on Coral in the Caribbean Sea off of the Coast of New Providence. Th...

    #triplefinblenny #scubadiving #fish #underwaterphotography #sea #ocean #water #blenny #wild #nature

    Squat Anemone Shrimp

    #shrimp #underwater #animal #sea #nature

    The depth, temperature of water and the current bringing nutrients make it an ideal environment f...

    #biodiversity #coral #musthag #underwater #people #azim #natgeo #salt #maldives #water

    Oppression, interaction, collaboration.In the life cycle of nature nothing is lost, but the coexi...

    #locusts #man #coexistence #nature

    Editor's Note

    Dear Michele, I have never seen a Locust swarm. Thank you for this glimpse. From the abundance shown I can imagine the sound and maybe guess at the devastation left in the wake of so many mouths. Truly a spectacle to witness but as you remind us sometimes difficult. Best regards, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    The plant life that is growing inside Hang Son Doong, the world's largest cave, are phenotypic va...

    #plantlife #sondoong #cave #vietnam #plant

    A Park bench in the middle of the Forest, in a few years it will be a part of the Forest!

    #landscape #plants #trees #green #nature #florest

    Mantis religiosa (European mantis)

    #mantis

    Editor's Note

    Dear Simon, This is a very elegant Mantis with its shapely abdomen. And I imagine that its eyes tracked you as you moved. This kind of apparent mutual regard makes me wonder how we are perceived by other creatures. Thank you, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    Fishing boats were arriving to the beach, so lots of seagulls were flying above. This kid was hav...

    #portugal #sun #happiness #beach #summer #home #biodiversity #fun #people #seagull #animals #water

    Glass Bottle Litter, Plumb Beach in Brooklyn

    #beach #recycing #garbage #seaweed

    Norwegian mountain flora with glacier arm in background in a small village called Finse.

    #white #mounatain #biodiversity #norway #snow #finse #flora

    Noticed this hummingbird in a tree not far from our home. Used telephoto and was surprised to se...

    #expecting #hummingbird #nest #mom

    Editor's Note

    Dear Jimer, Thank you for the view of this lovely nest made of diversity. The blue feather, who is that from? It looks like a few species of lichen and bits of leaf litter all wrapped/bound with spider webs. Very elegant. Best regards, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    You can discover a complete world on a stone lichen. Macro work handheld.

    #fungus #macro #photobiont #lichen #lichens

    Editor's Note

    Dear Xavier, Do you have a RAW file for an original. I would suggest trying to hold a little more shadow detail for the small moss on the right side of the image. Best, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    In the Chilean rainforests, the air humidity is extremely high so every surface is covered in mos...

    #chile #beetle #weevil #rainforest #macro #moss

    Editor's Note

    Dear Ales, As you note there is a lot more that just the weevil. Have you seen the inhabitants of... More

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    Buabeng-Fiema is a village in Ghana where these monkeys are protected and adored by the local peo...

    #monkeybabies #motherandchild #ghana #monkey #africa

    It was raining so hard that day and all tiny creatures crawl up to find shelter. Some flew away t...

    #biodiversity #macro #spider #nature

    Snorkelling at Hideaway Island in Vanuatu, I posted my letter in the underwater post office box a...

    #biodiversity #underwater #fish #swim #travel #ocean #snorkel

    Editor's Note

    Dear Angela, This portrayal of diversity made me smile too. We are all just a bunch of animals. Thank you, David

    David Liittschwager
    National Geographic Photographer

    I found that on many occasions I started to see something I had never seen before. It is a great privilege to participate in the beauty of the natural world.

    Thank you for sharing your pictures with us.

    About the Editor
    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 ...