Weekly visit to University of Guelph's Dairy Bush

Gigapan: Alex Smith

GigaBlitz December 2011

Welcome to Gigapan Magazine's second installment in the Nearby Nature juried series. Here you will find ten intriguing and inspiring Gigapans selected from many entries by a panel of eight jurors. Like an emotive poem or a compelling essay, each calls for immersion and reflection as its story unfolds. We hope they awaken something in each viewer.

Our team would like to thank the gigapanographers who went out during the designated solstice week of December 2011 to record the resilient habitats and tenacious animals and plants that survive, and even thrive, in human-dominated places. By sharing your panoramas - and the narratives, snapshots and geolocations that inform them - you breathe life into Nearby Nature's efforts to promote understanding, appreciation and conservation of ecosystems and habitats in and near the places we live.

The jury's top selection of this second round of Nearby Nature is Palmiera em flor by Eduardo Frick. We're delighted that this deceptively simple composition was so honored because it reveals biodiversity in action and up close. Even deep within our cities, pollinators such as bees, wasps, butterflies, ants, hummingbirds and some bat species, do the work of moving pollen, ensuring successful fruit and seed production.

For those of us surrounded by thoughtless development or unsustainable sprawl, images such as Hardwood Ridge by the Schrader Environmental Education Center reminds us that connected patches of natural respite and beauty are often within reach. Some images, like the calm waters along a migratory flyway captured in Lake of Ivars II by Josep Giribet (Finalist in both rounds of Nearby Nature Gigablitz!), suggest that near-urban wild areas are usually part of something bigger.

Wetlands have been a popular theme in both Nearby Nature series, and for good reason: they harbor immense biodiversity while providing valuable ecosystem services. John Post's Yesterday & Today and Rietvlei Wetland Area by Tian Olivier, each provide strategic perspectives on the tenuous relationship between artificial landscape and remnant wetland.

Like Josep Girabet's Mother's Vegetable Garden in the first Nearby Nature, this collection includes an appealing domestic selection in Vicki Hertzberg's My Backyard.

We also welcome several school group submissions in this iteration, including Iwate Prefecture by Inforange 311 and Cikaniki Stream by Primaseason.

And finally, the jury has added John Post's Californian lighthouse scene of immense beauty and Alex Smith's well-interpreted winter woodlot from Ontario, Canada. All in all, it's a juried collection each finalist can be proud to be part of.

We invite you to explore the entire cache of December 2011 entries at the Nearby Nature Gigablitz gallery at gigapan.com.

When we first concocted the idea of a "GigaBlitz" at the 2010 Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science, we had no inkling that it would persist beyond a single event. Now, over 100 individual entries have allowed a global audience to explore nature close-at-hand in seventeen countries and on every continent but Antarctica. Approximately 25% of the panoramas originate from sites in the southern hemisphere or right along the equator. We hope the twice-per-year solstice format continues to attract participation from a diversity of international gigapanographers, each in their season.

The next Nearby Nature GigaBlitz will take place during the June 2012 solstice week. Entries will be accepted from June 17 to June 23. We would remind all participants to make an attempt, if just at a basic level, to identify the organisms in their submissions. If in doubt, ask a local naturalist or a biology teacher. Geolocation information and a paragraph on how your GigaPan is situated in its landscape and cultural contexts would help tell your story - and impress the panelists. Remember, in dense, closely-set environments setting your camera to autofocus will permit much more capacity for identification of tiny specimens.

We thank the jurors for their timely and insightful responses to this round of entries. And to Mary Jo Daines, project producer, and the entire crew at the CREATE Lab, we extend our deep appreciation for their enthusiasm and unflagging support.

Guest Editors

Ken Tamminga is professor of landscape architecture and on the ecology faculty at Penn State University. His interests include ecological design and restoration, riparian urbanism, and regeneration of degraded social-ecological places. His work in inner-city Pittsburgh, Ghana, and the low Himalayas seeks to promote community/landscape co-resilience in the face of climate change and other stressors.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp is a Sr. Extension Associate at Penn State University. His research interests include honey bee epidemiology and pollinator health. He is the director of the Beeinformed.org partnership, and will join the entomology department at the University of Maryland in January 2012.

Alex Smith is a professor of molecular ecology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. His interests include biodiversity and cryptic species. He works in both field and laboratory to integrate field and molecular biology into questions of ecological and evolutionary importance to conservation.

This project was produced by Mary Jo Daines. Since 2008, Mary Jo has worked in the CREATE Lab helping scientists around the world use Gigapan to document and communicate their research with their peers and the public.

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