Monday, February 23, 2015

18-Jun-2012 Wachusett Reservoir Gate 7, Massachusetts

Site location
The Sawyer Bluff peninsula is one of the more frequently visited sections of the Wachusett Reservoir reservation, due no doubt to the presence of an actual parking lot by one of its gates.  My cone & litter sample site was in the pine-dominated forest on the north end of the peninsula, which, true to the landform's name, ended in a bluff about 10 feet above the shore.

Sampling site with a view
"Tufted" male Maevia inclemens
Fallen eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) cones were plentiful here, and most were well opened.  Finding the plenitude irresistible, I tapped 101 of them.  The result was 16 spiders and at least 8 species, among them a male Dimorphic Jumper, Maevia inclemens (Salticidae).  The specimen I collected was the "tufted" morph.  Click here to see a photo of the gray morph, which is zebra-striped!

Clubionid in refugium
Egg sac on cone scale
Spiders had created numerous silk structures in and on the cones at this site, including refugia, egg sacs and sheet webs.  In addition, an exuvium indicated that at least one spider had used a cone as a molting place.

Cone & litter microhabitats with
wintergreen (Gaulthera procumbens)
The litter was thin, comprised of pine needles and a few deciduous tree leaves, but still it produced 15 spiders of at least 3 species.  However, the big surprise I got while sifting the litter wasn't the spider fauna, but the weasel (Mustela sp.) that zipped past me to dive down a game trail that transected the bluff face.  Now that was a special treat!

Wild blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) were common in the understory

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