Animal Biology student snaps up British Ecological photo prize

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ground beetle by Lara Bates Prior

An Oxford Brookes undergraduate student has been awarded a prize in this year’s British Ecological Society photographic competition.

Lara Bates-Prior, who studies Animal Biology and Conservation, was awarded Student Winner in the Ecology in Action category after impressing the judges with her picture of a ground beetle dusted with glowing UV powder (pictured) – a new technique for tracking insects. 

This method is everything I think science is: fascinating, vivid and enables us to see nature in a different way. It was pioneered to discover things about insects we had previously never thought about.

Lara Bates-Prior, undergraduate student in Animal Biology and Conservation

Lara explained: “By dusting the specimen in UV powder, you can track the animal in the dark using a black light torch. You can observe its behaviour without it being harmed through predation or by altering its natural rhythms. 

“The visual effect the powder had on the insect was just beautiful – it seemed to glow so intensely.”

Lara took the picture of the beetle inside a specimen jar, but had to be careful not to let any light inside the jar in order to preserve the fluorescent glow of the powder. 

She added: “This method is everything I think science is: fascinating, vivid and enables us to see nature in a different way. It was pioneered to discover things about insects we had previously never thought about.

“I chose this picture for Ecology in Action because it fitted the theme so perfectly – it was striking and had a purpose.”

Lara has won £40 of Cambridge University Press book tokens and her award-winning photograph will be exhibited at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting which takes place this week at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. 

The British Ecological Society promotes the study of ecology through publishing a range of scientific literature, organising and sponsoring a wide variety of meetings and funding grant schemes, education initiatives and policy work. 

More information about studying Animal Biology and Conservation can be found on the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences webpages.