Friday, June 19, 2015

16-Jun-2015 Sand Ridge Trailhead, Washington

Site location (click to enlarge)
After getting baked in Peavine Canyon the previous week, I was happy that Rod Crawford and I were collecting this day at Sand Ridge Trailhead where the temperature stayed comfortably in the mid 70s F (~24 C).  The 3 hour drive to the trailhead, which is located southeast of Mt. Rainier near White Pass, brought us past numerous Muckleshoot fireworks stands, evangelical churches and views of Mount Rainier.  But the drive was most noteworthy for being the first in recent memory where I didn't get tailgated, not even once!

Debris mound surrounding
ponderosa pine tree.
Net diameter 15" (38 cm)
Lots of small woody debris
The forest at the trailhead was dominated by Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), but two huge ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) growing within view of the parking area provided me with ample cones.  In contrast to the ponderosas in Peavine Canyon the week before, these trees bore no fire scars and were surrounded by mounds of bark scales and pine needles.  Likewise, the forest floor was littered with branches, sticks and twigs.  This place hasn't seen fire in quite some time.

Glade cones
Shade cones
I tapped a total of 50 fallen cones, half of which were laying on the densely shaded forest floor that supported almost no ground vegetation ("shade cones"), and the other half laying in a large patch of twinflower (Linnaea borealis) ("glade cones") growing adjacent to the shade cone area.

In all I collected 20 spiders and 5 species. Almost half of the specimens were agelenids.  Perhaps the most interesting find was an Agyneta perspicua (Linyphiidae), a species I hadn't tapped from cones before and for which there are less than 10 records in the Burke Museum's spider databaseUpdate (28 XII 2015): Upon closer examination, it was Agyneta protrudens, a litter species that I have tapped from cones only once before. The most noticeable difference between the two groups of cones was the total absence of harvestmen from shade cones; I collected 7 juveniles from glade cones.

Juvenile Callobius (and exuvium)
under ponderosa bark scale
Juvenile Callobius in ponderosa cone
Despite the apparent lack of recent fire at this site, the litter associated with the cones was almost non-existent.  The half bag of littler that I managed to scrape up consisted mainly of twigs and a very thin layer of pine needles.  The 2 juvenile spiders I sifted from the litter included a Callobius sp. (Amaurobiidae).  I also collected juvenile Callobius from tapped cones and from underneath bark scales on standing ponderosas.

The only elk we
saw were on signs
Several signs along Route 123 promised statuesquely posed elk, but we never glimpsed a one.  However, I did manage to snap this photo of Sasquatch.  Too bad Rod wasn't around to witness it!

A view of Mt Rainier from near Chinook Pass

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