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Commons Picture of the Day: Haetosmia nectar

Gideon Pisanty has always had a fascination with nature and a deep concern for the environment. At age 26, he became interested in the subject of biodiversity in Israel and decided to return to university to “study ecology and to delve in nature photography.” For the past seven years, Pisanty has focused his studies and research on ecology in order to ensure that “photos are not all that will be left of Israel’s nature for our grandchildren.”

Male Haetosmia drawing nectar from a flower

As a current Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Entomology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Pisanty focuses his research on wild bees and how they contribute to the pollination of crops. He couples his research with his love of photography to tell a story of Israel’s ecology. “My main motivation in photography is to capture the beauty and diversity of Israel’s wildlife, especially its plants and insects” he said.

The Wikipedia Commons contributor’s captivating photo “Haetosmia Male 1” is the Commons Picture of the Day on October 24, 2012. Pisanty’s photo highlights the moment in which a male Haetosmia–a genus of small bees that specializes in foraging on heliotropes–exerts his long tongue to extract nectar from a white flower. Although much is known about the foraging behavior of this bee genus, little research has been conducted on its nesting behavior–a focus of Pisanty’s current research, which he hopes will be published soon.

Pisanty’s fascination with ecology doesn’t stop with his bee research. He says he is a supporter of Israel’s burgeoning nature conservation movement. “Nature conservation in Israel has greatly improved over the years, most of all due to the work of the SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) and increasing awareness of the general public and government,” explained Pisanty. Although great strides are being made, Pisanty sees Israel’s dense population and birth rate as threats to biodiversity. With an expanding population, “nature always pays the price,” he said.

Pisanty hopes that his contributions to Commons can help raise environmental awareness and help contribute to the free exchange of knowledge that he finds absent on other photo sharing websites. “I focus my uploads on organisms or subjects which are not yet, or only poorly represented on Commons,” said Pisanty.

In the future, he hopes to contribute more of his photos to Commons, but “my limited time and my perfectionism prevent me from uploading masses of photos before working in detail on each of them.” This attention to detail and eye for capturing nature is the perfect combination for future Pictures of the Day–once he finds the time.

(Follow this link to see more of Pisanty’s photos)

Alice Roberts, communications intern

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