Some people adopt photography as a profession; others do it as a hobby. But for researchers in the field or the lab, it’s often a hazard of the job.

The BMC Ecology and Evolution image competition makes space to celebrate those ultra-close, ultra-detailed, or ultra-rare candids every year. Chosen by the editors of the journal BioMed Central Ecology and Evolution, the winners and runner-ups consist of scientists from all around the world. The 2022 submissions fell into four categories: research in action, life closeup, biodiversity under threat, and relationships in nature.

[Related: 8 award-winning photos of nature’s stranger things]

The overall winner (seen above) was taken in the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru by evolutionary biologist and expert photographer Roberto García-Roa. It depicts ”spores of the so-called ‘Zombie’ fungus (e.g. genera Ophiocordyceps) that infect arthropods by infiltrating their exoskeleton and minds,” says García-Roa in a description for the contest. ”As a result, parasitized hosts are compelled to migrate to a more favorable location for the fungus’s growth. Here, they await death, at which point the fungus feeds on its host to produce fruiting bodies full of spores that will be jettisoned to infect more victims—a conquest shaped by thousands of years of evolution.”

See PopSci‘s picks from the final lineup below, and check the journal’s website for information on the 2023 competition soon.

Biodiversity under threat runner-up: A male wood frog clings to an egg mass. Lindsey Swierk
Biodiversity under threat: A group of African elephants shelter from the sun under a baobab tree. Samantha Kreling
Relationships in nature: A waxwing feasts on fermented rowan berries. Alwin Hardenbol
Highly commended: A seabird’s stomach full of plastic waste. Marine Cusa
Life closeup winner: Gliding treefrog siblings at an early developmental stage. Brandonl André Güell
Research in action: Researchers perform fieldwork during thunderstorms in the COVID pandemic. Jeferson Ribeiro Amaral
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