Wednesday, February 25, 2015

26-Jun-2012 Wachusett Reservoir Gate 25, Massachusetts

Site locations
After a 1-day rain delay, I was back in the field to tap cones and sift litter.  The day's festivities occurred at two sites just inside Gate 25.

Site A was located on a trailside hill just east of Gates Brook in a richly mixed forest of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and oak (Quercus sp.).  This was my only collecting site in the Wachusett reservation where the litter contained beech nuts.

Site A
Site A cone and litter microhabitats
I tapped 50 pine cones at Site A and collected 12 spiders from at least 6 species.  A load of pine needle and oak leaf litter produced 28 spiders from at least 4 species.  Most of the litter specimens were microspiders.
Have egg sac...
...will travel.
Often I can't see cone spiders in situ, and only know they were present after tapping them from a cone into my net.  But several were visible this day due to the silk structures they had created.  I found two sac spiders (Clubionidae) in the silken retreats that they're named for and had placed on cone scales, and a female crab spider Ozyptila distans (Thomisidae) guarding her egg sac.  At first glance the crab spider's egg sac appeared to be attached to the cone scale.  But when the spider retreated deeper into the cone, she carried it off with her!

Site B
Site B cone and litter microhabitats
Site B was another eastern white pine "colonnade" near the shore with lots of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) growing beneath.  I was able to find 50 ivy-free cones to tap, but they only produced 3 spiders from two species.  The pine needle litter was likewise relatively unproductive, producing only a juvenile lycosid and salticid.
View of reservoir through rushes. Site B "colonnade"in upper right corner.

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