The cinematic snapshot - which shows a pair of subway mice engaging in what appears to be an epic showdown on a platform within the London Underground system - was awarded the Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People's Choice Award, presented by London's Natural History Museum on Wednesday.
Rowley's photo beat out 25 other finalists of more than 48,000 images submitted for the contest, and 28,000 nature photography fans voted, the museum said.
Sam says he got some curious looks from passengers while he lay in wait for the ideal shot. His patience paid off when two mice battled over a leftover crumb, the encounter lasting only a split-second before one ran off a victor.
"Everybody knows about the mice on the Underground but I don't think anyone's seen them in that light before", Rowley, a 25-year-old researcher at the BBC, told CNN. "It's been a lifetime dream to succeed in this competition in this way, with such a relatable photo taken in such an everyday environment in my hometown", says Rowley.
Sir Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, said of the People's Choice victor: "Sam's image provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment". The shows were temporarily stopped in 2004 due to global pressure, but today the shows continue -twice a day, every day -with hundreds of people paying to watch the orangutans box, dance, play the drums and more.
Director of the Natural History Museum, Michael Dixon, said Sam's image provides "a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment".
The Surrogate Mother, by Martin Buzora, shows a ranger in a park in Kenya looking after an orphaned black rhino. The mice's behaviour is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard.
The infant rhinos are cared for at the sanctuary either because of poachers or because their mothers are blind and can not look after them in the wild.
Lebanon's Michel Zoghzoghi, who was shooting in Brazil, was mesmerised by the anaconda's pattern so closely resembling the coats of its captors.
Also recognized was a shot of several arctic reindeer barely visible beneath freezing conditions in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic, taken by Francis De Andres.
Mike Owen, from Panasonic Lumix UK, said the winning "Station Squabble" draws the viewer in to a "simultaneously recognisable and unknown world".