Wednesday, June 8, 2016

6-June-2016 Vashon Island, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
In my search for the limits of Ozyptila praticola's range in Washington state, I've visited shopping mall parking lots, college campuses, suburban back yards and rural enclaves.  But this was my first visit to an island.  That getting there required a ferry ride on a beautifully sunny day made the destination all the more enticing.

Downtown Vashon

Eastern white pines
Fallen white pine cones
I already had my first destination planned before arriving on the island: two huge white pine trees in downtown Vashon that I'd spotted via Google Maps Street View.  The trees turned out to be eastern white pines (Pinus strobus), and hundreds of their fallen cones had accumulated on the pine needle litter around their bases.  It seemed the perfect spot to start the day's collecting with a bang, but the opposite turned out to be true.  I tapped 100 cones and collected only one juvenile Phrurotimpus sp. and one juvenile harvestman.  I did notice that these cones were quite dusty from road debris, so perhaps this affected their attractiveness to spiders?

Ober Park Park & Ride

Black and Scots pines
No shortage of black pine cones!
After that disappointing start, I retraced my steps to a Park & Ride lot that I had noticed on the way into town from the ferry.  The entrance was decorated with two black pines (P. nigra) and a Scots pine (P. sylvestris), and their fallen cones had been allowed to accumulate on the needle litter below.  I tapped 100 black pine cones and collected 31 spiders and 5 species.  Now that was more like it!  Perhaps not surprisingly, the mix of spiders was very much like what I've tapped from cones in the Seattle area: juvenile philodromids, Enoplognatha thoracica and E. probably-ovata, tons of Tenuiphantes tenuis (7 females!), one Tachygyna female and, yes, one male Ozyptila praticola.

While in Vashon I chanced upon a place called Hastings Cone Gallery.  Was it possible that someone else had an interest in confer cones, and had some on display?!  The place was closed so I pressed my nose against the glass in great anticipation, only to find what looked like a cafe.  A very nice-looking cafe to be sure, but not a pine cone in sight.  There was some lovely art on the walls, however.  I've since learned that the place is named for its owners, Megan Hastings and Adam Cone, who exhibit art in their cafe.  Too bad I didn't stop by during business hours, because maybe I could have at least found that special kind of edible "cone" that doesn't contain spiders (one would hope), the scone.

Paradise Ridge Equestrian Park

Double row of Douglas-firs
Nobody home but C. exlineae
Since I was eventually going to take the ferry from the southern terminal in Tahlequah, I decided to search for a final collecting site on that half of the island.  At Paradise Ridge Equestrian Park I found an inviting double row of Douglas-firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) with plenty of cones and litter beneath them, reminiscent of my collecting site in Snoqualmie.  I tapped 75 cones but collected only 3 spiders, all female Cryphoeca exlineae.

Male Ozyptila praticola
Female Cryphoeca exlineae
Vashon Island is the western-most place in Washington state where I've found the European species O. praticola.  However, having tapped just one male spider from 275 cones makes me wonder whether the species really is established on the island, or whether that individual was a "dead end" pioneer.  Only more sampling will tell.

Mt. Rainier from just offshore of Tahlequah

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