Monday, June 8, 2015

6-Jun-2015 Cooper River, Washington

Site locations (click to enlarge)
It's been unseasonably warm in Washington this spring, so Rod Crawford and I agreed to focus our current sampling efforts on the east side of the Cascade crest, the area that will dry out first and become less productive spider-wise as summer sets in.  The Cooper River watershed above Cle Elum was our day's destination.  Although the gravel roads were really dusty, recent weather has been unseasonably moist as well as warm on the east side, so we found the area still pleasantly green.

White (l) & lodgepole (r) cones
With my penchant for pine cone tapping in mind, Rod chose Red Mountain Trailhead as our first stop.  His choice was based partly on a trail description that promised a lower trail strewn with pine needles.  And indeed, there was one western white pine (Pinus monticola) and numerous lodgepole pines (P. contorta subsp. latifolia) growing next to the parking area.  But after hiking the lower section of the trail and finding no pines, we decided that "pine needles" had probably been used as a generic term for conifer needles.

Red Mountain Trailhead
sampling site
White pine cones at
Red Mountain Trailhead
Returning to the parking area, I tapped the 55 white pine cones I found lying in the sparse vegetation near the road.  I collected 22 spiders and 4 species, including 2 female and several juvenile Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae) and a lovely female Poecilochroa columbiana (Gnaphosidae).  (Of course formosa is Latin for beautiful, so the comeliness of the Euryopis fomosa spiders goes without saying.)

The litter associated with the trailhead cones, where any was present at all, consisted of a thin layer of pine needles and a bit of dried grass.  From this meager microhabitat I collected all of one juvenile crab spider.

Sampling site in Stave Creek canyon
A cone in Stave Creek canyon
Our next stop was about a third of the way up Stave Creek canyon, a tributary to the Cooper River.  While Rod went in search of meadow vegetation to sweep, I began another round of cone tapping along a decommissioned section of road.  I collected 7 spiders and one species, Poeciloneta lyrica (Linyphiidae), from 22 white pine cones.  There was no litter to sample.  The cones had been lying on bare ground or at best a bit of moss and a few conifer needles.

Sifting conifer litter near Cooper Lake
Streamside under-rock fauna
Next we moved on to the Cooper Lake area.  Seeing no pines in sight and feeling a bit sun baked, I headed towards the lake while Rod sifted conifer litter in the woods.  Finding that Stave Creek meets the Cooper River a few hundred feet downstream from the lake, I spent a refreshing time turning rocks on the restoratively cool and shady stream bank.

Violets (Viola sp.) growing streamside
Pacific treefrog (Pseudacris regilla)
near Cooper Lake bridge
We hiked to our final collecting spot, a lovely little flower-bedecked meadow, just as the setting sun signaled a cloud of hungry mosquitoes to come out and feed.  And feed they did, on us of course.  We definitely "gave at the office" at that site, and had to replenish lost vitality at a burger joint in Easton before driving home.

Be sure to read Rod's trip narrative here!

I'm testing a new ad slogan: "Say it with spiders!"

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