Behind the Image: bad day for a bumblebee

If you think your day is bad, then look at this poor bee who can't catch a break. Roberto García-Roa, a researcher at the University of Valencia, describes the story behind his image, one of the winners of the 2017 BMC Ecology Image Competition.

What is your profession?

I am a researcher at the Ethology unit, University of Valencia.

What type of research are you involved in?

My research line combines experimental and phylogenetic approaches and encompasses both ecological and evolutionary studies focused on investigating those traits employed by animals to engage in social and sexual interactions and their role in lineages diversification and species adaptations. Specifically, I am currently investigating at the University of Valencia (at Pau Carazo´s Lab) the mechanisms inherent to sexual conflict and the ecological factors that modulate this event.

Why did you become interested in this area of research?

I have always been interested in the process and mechanism underlying animal ecology and evolution and thus, my way has moved forward progressively, building this interesting framework of study in which I am involved in.

How did you become interested in photography?

My life cannot be understood without animals and hence, the best way to “capture” them and wear them always with you is with photography. They will be with you in photography forever.

Where and how was this photo taken? Why were you there at the time?

This picture was taken while I was walking with my dog in Valencia. I often observe snails, grasshoppers, lizards, and that time I could see that special interaction among three animals. I went to my house to take the camera and took several photos of what was happening in this interesting interaction.

Can you explain a bit more about the image?

In field work, you often see, with luck and effort, spiders hunting or even eating their prey. However, this case was special because a third protagonist appeared in the scene. This small fly was parasitizing the bee while it was being eaten by the spider.

What about this scene particularly interested you?

In my opinion, this scene reflects life from 3 different perspectives and show how complex are animal interactions. It shows mimicry with the crab spider, it shows the dangers underlying pollination for bees, it shows three different positions on the trophic web (predators, prey and parasites) and finally, the image highlights how connected are many animals in a dynamic in which the loss of some of them in a hypothetical region could trigger crucial consequences for other species in that region.

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