The cover image for our new issue shows an ant standing on the tip of a Lafoensia pacari leaf in the Cerrado, Brazil. Author Kleber Del-Claro shares the story behind this stunning image, which was taken by co-author Denise Lange and relates to their recent research article “Climate seasonality drives ant–plant–herbivore interactions via plant phenology in an extrafloral nectary‐bearing plant community” by Calixto et al.
The authors of this paper have already written a post about their research article! You can read their author blog post here.
When conducting a scientific, ecological study directly in nature it is very important to collect all types of documentation, which show that the study was well conducted. Visual documentation, both photographs and videos, are essential. In the Brazilian savanna, the Cerrado, we face three special conditions that act together to make it difficult to capture good images of our studied objects: the sun (and heat), the wind, and the animal behavior. I will explain…imagine you are trying to take a photo of a tiny, fast, and erratically moving animal as was true for this ant, on a plant that is being constantly shaken by the wind, under direct sun that produces all types of undesirable shadows!
In the savanna and elsewhere, we never work alone – instead we are conducting our fieldwork in groups, or at least in pairs. One or two of us will always have a camera to capture images of the plants, the animals, the special behaviors and even our group members. The better images are stored for analysis and the more captivating photos can be used in our classes, talks and publications. To make a good image demands patience, time, and dedication. It is not easy. Sometimes, to secure an image like this one, with a perfect focus, natural coloration, brightness, and contrast, dozens of other unsuccessful pictures were attempted and several days of effort were needed. Photography is an art that strongly complements science.
Kleber Del-Claro Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Brazil
You can read the full article by Calixto et al. here: Climate seasonality drives ant–plant–herbivore interactions via plant phenology in an extrafloral nectary‐bearing plant community
Read the related author blog post here: Climate driven seasonal patterns in an ant–plant–herbivore interaction