Lecturer shortlisted in global photo competition on soil biodiversity

23 Sep 2020

A lecturer from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) is a finalist in a photo competition highlighting the importance of soil biodiversity from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The photo and video competition from the FAO and its Global Soil Partnership was created to promote and give visibility to the importance of soil organisms and raise awareness on the urgency of protecting soil biodiversity.

There were 700 submissions to the competition from over 50 countries. Dr Felicity Crotty, a Lecturer in Soil Science and Ecology at the RAU, is one of only five finalists in the ‘Meso and Microfauna’ category.

Her photo shows a false scorpion (moss neobisium pseudoscorpion), a tiny predator that lives within the soil and litter layer, ensnaring a symphypleona springtail (Collembola), part of the mesofauna, key to decomposition and nutrient cycling within soil.

Dr Felicity Crotty, who is based in the School of Agriculture, Food and the Environment at the RAU, said: “The predation of the springtail by the pseudoscorpion occurred just before they fell into a pitfall trap, so I was able to preserve the encounter as it happened. I am delighted to be a finalist in this competition. It is very important to me to increase everyone’s knowledge of these tiny creatures that are often overlooked within the soil.

“The ‘Meso and Microfauna’ category relates to small invertebrates of less than 2mm body width, which are barely visible to the naked eye, but incredibly important to the functional ecology of the soil habitat,” she explains.

All photos within the competition are open to a public vote Facebook until Wednesday 30 September. The winning photos in each category will be the ones which gain the most ‘Likes.’

You can ‘Like’ Felicity’s photo on the FAO’s Facebook page and view the other entries.

Winners will be announced on 30 September.