Saturday, March 14, 2015

12-Sep-2012 Wachusett Reservoir Gate 9, Massachusetts

Site location
The forest west of newly-constructed Tahanto Regional Middle/High School was the day's destination.  Huge earth-moving machines were making a racket in the school's parking lot, but the construction noise faded as I made my way deeper into the woods.

Trail through collecting site
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) dominated the overstory at my collection site and blanketed the trail and forest floor with needles.  The understory was dense with red maple (Acer rubrum) saplings, while blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) was a significant element in the ground layer.

Fallen cones under Vaccinium sp.
Mystery spider from cones
As in the previous week, I again got 22 spiders from 50 tapped cones, making this one of the most productive cone sites around the reservoir.  However, the composition of this sample was different.  Almost half of the specimens were of a species of microspider I hadn't seen before and haven't yet identified.  The rest were mainly the usual suspects: dictynids, gnaphosids, phrurolithids and thomisids.

A snouty Ceraticelus male
Mystery spider's epigynum & abdomen
The pine needle litter was also abounding with spiders.  I sifted 32 individuals and 8 species, including a few penultimate male specimens of the "mystery spider" I found in the cones.  Lathys pallida (Dictynidae) was the most numerous identifiable species present (3 females & 3 males), while 4 female Hahnia cinerea (Hahniidae) made that species the second-most common.  So much for my previous comment about collecting one and only one hahniid per sampling site!

Just someone I met on the trail...

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