Plant-Pollinator Porn

Here is a selection of pictures by Christian Ziegler, naturalist and photojournalist for National Geographic. They depict animal-flower interactions in general, not only pollination events. And porn is in the eyes of the viewer, as well as in the eye of the maker. But Plant-Pollinator Porn makes a better acronym, so I’ll stick to that.

Today, I will post about orchids and their pollination. The orchid family is the largest plant family with some 28000 to 32000 species, and all species have highly specialized pollinators. In some cases it is a bees (as seen here in Panama), in other cases birds, beetles, ants, flies and so on… but they all depend on these highly specialized interactions to guarantee pollination and future reproduction. These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

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Notes on Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”

In 1890, Józef Teodor Nałęcz Konrad Korzeniowski, polish sailor of noble origins, travels in the Congo Free State, colonial enterprise of the king of Belgium. The atrocities he witnesses trouble his mind and conscience to the point that he falls into a depression. Years later (1899), Józef, who has settled down in England and has changed his name in Joseph Conrad, writes and publishes “Heart of Darkness”, in which he faces his demons and crystallizes his pessimism about colonial ventures. Continue reading

Coming next: South Africa (passing by Borneo)

More big news! Some time ago I wrote a research project to test the geographic mosaic of coevolution using some South African plants and their pollinators as model system. The idea is to assess how the community composition of plants and pollinators affect the strength of the ecological interaction between each focus plant and their pollinators, and how this reflects on the tightness of their coevolution. The South Africans (specifically the Leon Foundation) liked it and funded it. After a bit of thinking, the Swiss (SNF) decided that they liked it too, and they funded it as well. So in May I will move to SA to work on my project, together with prof. Bruce Anderson and prof. Steve Johnson, with funding for up to three years and a half.

In the meantime I am spending some of these gap months travelling in Borneo for a personal project which I started thinking about two years ago, the first time I came on the island. On that first visit, Borneo struck me as a land of contrasts, with primeval rainforests threatened by logging and oil palm plantations. Back then I was reading “Stranger in the Forest”, a book that tells the adventures of Eric Hansen, a journalist who in 1982 walked across the island on foot. I am using this book as an inspiration and a reference to see how Borneo changed in the last 30 years. Follow my Bornean walkabout here!