Tuesday, February 10, 2015

7-Oct-2013 McLellan Conservation Area, Washington

Location of sampling sites in Spokane
Co., Wash. Click to enlarge.
The ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests of Spokane County, Washington would be our sampling home for the next 5 days.  First stop, McLellan Conservation Area.  As Rod described it, "410 acres at the tip of a north-jutting peninsula surrounded by Spokane River waters impounded by Nine Mile Dam".

Cones & needle litter in riparian veg.
We found two forest zones along the trail from the parking lot to the river, riparian and upland.  I was eager to sample the cones laying in the riparian zone since this was a configuration I'd had little access to previously. 

Spot the spider collector?
I'd just started tapping cones when the skies opened and sent me running into the rain shadow of a big tree.  Rod, who had been sampling the riparian vegetation, "sheltered in place".

Rain drops on spider silk
And then the sun came out!  Not only were we treated to a lovely rainbow over the river, but the lingering rain drops helped me spot tiny spider webs between cone scales.  Fifty tapped cones produced 31 spiders and 6 identifiable species, while the bag o' needle litter produced 17 spiders and 4 identifiable species.  Quite a haul!  Meioneta bucklei and M. simplex (Linyphiidae) were present in both cones and litter. 
Upland site

Moving on to the upland site, which was comprised of 100% ponderosa pines and blanketed with sumptuously thick needle litter, I collected 6 spiders and 3 species from 50 cones, but got skunked again by the litter.
"All's well that ends well"

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