Monday, April 20, 2015

4-Jun-2011 Table Mountain and Teanaway Campground, Washington

Site locations (click to enlarge)
Back on the beat with Rod Crawford, I had a very busy day tapping fallen pine cones at three elevations on Table Mountain, which is located north of Ellensburg, and in the Teanaway forest, located north of Cle Elum.

Reecer Canyon site (3600')
Reecer Canyon was my first site of the day and the lowest elevation (3600') site I sampled on Table Mtn.  Tapping 50 ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) cones in this mixed Pseudotsuga menziesii-P. ponderosa forest got me 7 juvenile spiders, mostly lycosids and the "pine cone spider" Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae).

Table Mtn site (5400')
P. ponderosa cones in Reecer Canyon
Rod was eager to get to a higher elevation site to augment a previous sample he'd taken there, so we leapfrogged what would later be my mid-elevation site and drove as far up Table Mountain as the snow pack would allow, 5400'.  Although this put me above my coveted P. ponderosa zone, the subalpine parkland supported scattered lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) trees, a species whose cones I hadn't yet tapped.

Fallen P. contorta cones on Table Mtn
with spring-beauty (Claytonia sp.)
Downed P. contorta branch on Table
Mtn with attached cones
Pinus contorta cones are "persistent", meaning they aren't shed annually as are P. ponderosa cones, but may remain attached to the tree for years.  Nevertheless, with some hunting I was able to find 30 cones to tap.  Some I found on the ground, while others were still attached to fallen branches and so weren't in direct contact with litter or the ground.  Those 30 cones were small and often only partially open, but they produced 9 spiders and 3 species, and provided the first record of the presence of spiders in fallen P. contorta cones.

Reecer Creek Road site (4800')
P. ponderosa cone at Reecer Creek Rd
Retracing our steps, we dropped back down into the P. ponderosa zone and stopped along Reecer Creek Road to take a mid-elevation sample (4800').  Tapping 51 cones I collected 5 spiders and 3 species including a rare dictynid collected in Washington only twice previously.
P. ponderosa cones near
Teanaway Campground

Site near Teanaway Campground
With too much delicious daylight left to head home, we made one more stop, near Teanaway Campground.  The 103 P. ponderosa cones I tapped weren't terribly productive, producing only 10 spiders from 2 species.  But one was a rare, undescribed Neon sp. jumping spider (Salticidae), and seven were photogenic E. formosa juveniles, so I was a happy camper.

Late afternoon sun brings out the
chestnut highlights in this E. formosa
View of an E. formosa's
silver-lined "heart" markings

Be sure to check out Rod's take on the day!

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