Monday, April 4, 2016

30-Mar-2016 Lummi Island, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
Spring!  What a treat to spend a day outdoors sampling spiders and not be in danger of either heat stroke or hypothermia, rattlesnakes or rain!  Conditions were perfect for Rod Crawford, Jessi Bishopp and I to enjoy gorgeous weather and beautiful scenery while sampling the last two unsampled gridspaces on Lummi Island.

Sitka spruce in pasture
Thanks to the good folks at the Lummi Island Heritage Trust, we had permission to sample in a privately owned pasture ("Pasture" on my map, above) and then in the Curry Preserve.  Neither location had pine trees, but there was no shortage of other conifers dropping cones for me to tap.

Sitka spruce cone on needle litter.
Painfully pointy spruce needles, ouch!
When we arrived at the pasture, I began sampling the first conifer vegetation I came to without first identifying the tree.  Ouch, that was a mistake!  The painfully sharp needles on that tree reminded me that we were in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) territory.  This isn't a species I see very often, so I hadn't ever tapped its cones before.  Now was my opportunity.

Woodlouse coming out of cone
scale pocket
Woodlice and a weevil
The pasture and surrounding forest were full of birdsong. I tapped 50 cones to the hoots of a barred owl, the rasping song of an Anna's hummingbird, and the bubbly song of several Pacific wrens.  Too bad I wasn't studying woodlice.  They were by far the most numerous occupants of these cones.  I also tapped out several weevils.  The little pockets created by the wavy cone scales seemed perfect for housing these tiny animals.  As for spiders, I collected 5 juveniles.  Most were Phrurotimpus sp. (Phrurolithidae).  Maybe it wasn't the most exciting cone spider sample, but now I can add Sitka spruce to the list of tree species whose fallen cones are used by spiders!

Looking across meadow from beneath
my Douglas-fir cone source at Curry
The fallen cone microhabitat at
Curry Preserve
My cone source at the Curry Preserve was a Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) growing at a meadow edge.  This meant that most of the cones I tapped were lying on meadow grass, a configuration I haven't sampled much.  I tapped 50 cones and collected 6 spiders from at least 5 species.  Unsurprisingly, this batch of cone spiders very much mirrored what I had already swept from the meadow, and included Araniella displicata (Araneidae), Xysticus cristatus (Thomisidae) and Zelotes sp. (Gnaphosidae).

Read Rod's trip narrative here and view his album here!

An Aculepeira sp. orbweaver in its rush-top retreat at Curry Preserve

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