Saturday, February 21, 2015

28-May-2012 Wachusett Reservoir Gate 17, Massachusetts

Pollen slick on reservoir
This day's collecting site was at the southern-most end of the reservoir (see map here).  While 'poison ivy' was the watchword at the previous collection site, here it was 'pollen'.  Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) trees, like most gymnosperms, are wind-pollinated, meaning that they release their pollen to the wind and let it fall where it may.  Some pollen lands on receptive female cones which then develop into the seed cones that I tap for spiders.  But a lot of the stuff misses the mark.  Locally, lots of pollen lands on the surface of Wachusett Reservoir and forms wind-driven slicks along the shoreline.

Cones amid blueberries & orchids.
Arborvitae & reservoir in background
Gate 17 sample site
Just a few hundred feet inside Gate 17 I found the day's collecting site: a small stand of eastern white pine growing between the access road and the reservoir, with a sparse smattering of oak seedlings (Quercus sp.), blueberry plants (Vaccinium sp.) and pink lady's slipper orchids (Cyripedium acaule) in the understory.  The stand was separated from the reservoir by the fabled curtain of arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis).

Pollen-sprinkled web
Cockroach found in cone
I had no problem finding enough cones to sample, especially since many were draped with bright yellow pollen-encrusted webs.  Fifty-three cones yielded 18 spiders, including more Phrurotimpus sp. (Phrurolithidae) and Neon nellii (Salticidae).  And...cockroaches.

Litter spider, ID still TBD
Litter in sifter, waiting to be processed
A load of needle litter yielded 14 spiders, IDs still to be determined.

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