Alwin Hardenbol, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Eastern Finland School of Forest Sciences, has been announced as the winner of the BMC Ecology and Evolution photography competition in the Relationships in Nature category.
Hardenbol’s winning photograph depicts a Bohemian Waxwing about to take flight, with a frozen rowan berry in its beak.
This was the second BMC Ecology and Evolution photography competition, with Roberto García-Roa, affiliated with the University of Valencia in Spain and Lund University in Sweden, announced as the overall winner. Besides the Relationships in Nature category, the other competition categories were Biodiversity Under Threat, Life Close Up, and Research in Action.
The Bohemian Waxwing photographed by Hardenbol has a strong relationship with rowan trees due to the berries they produce. This plant-frugivore interaction is so strong Bohemian Waxwings will even migrate based on the presence of rowan berries.
“Waxwings can eat several hundred berries per day, exceeding double their own weight. While this is highly beneficial for seed dispersal, it does not come without a cost for the birds. As the berries become overripe, they start to ferment and produce ethanol which gets Waxwings intoxicated, sometimes leading to trouble for the birds, even death. Unsurprisingly, Waxwings have evolved to have a relatively large liver to deal with their inadvertent alcoholism."
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