Saturday, July 9, 2016

8-July-2016 Puyallup and Parkland, Washington

Site location map.  Click to enlarge.
Today I was back on the trail of the introduced crab spider Ozyptila praticola (Thomisidae).  My goal was to tap cones in the Puyallup area in order to close a gap in my samples along the apparent southern edge of O. praticola's local range.  A drive along Pioneer Way on the southern edge of the Puyallup Valley gave me a refreshing peek at some of the farms in this rich valley before I began my upland urban and suburban sampling.  I took two samples in Puyallup, the first at South Hill Mall and the second at a small apartment complex.  I completed a third sample in Parkland on my way back to Seattle.

South Hill Mall

South Hill Mall cone source
A fallen P. nigra cone
A small grove of the black pine trees (Pinus nigra) grows on a sliver of land between the South Hill Mall parking lot and some neighboring businesses.  The area under the trees had largely escaped the ravages of groundskeeping, and so I had no trouble finding 50 cones to tap, most lying on luxurious beds of pine litter.  In an urban setting, this is a real treat!

I tapped 50 cones and collected 21 spiders and 5 species, a fine start to my day!  As is so often the case in this part of the state, the introduced species Tenuiphantes tenuis dominated the sample.  But I did find a few native spiders, including two species of Tachygyna as well as Phrurotimpus borealis.  As for the target species: I found no O. praticola.

Apartment Complex

One tree...
...many cones.
Like the mall site, this spot had escaped the rake and had accumulated hundreds of fallen Scots pine (P. sylvestris) cones, all lying on pine tree litter.  But when I tapped 50 of these cones, I found only one juvenile linyphiid.  Well, at least the apartment residents were friendly, which I always very much appreciate.


Towering ponderosas...
...dropped plenty of accessible cones
I've read about the natural disjunct population of ponderosa pines (P. ponderosa) that grows within the boundaries of Joint Base Lewis McChord, but I've never had the opportunity to tap its cones.  So as I worked my way west towards JBLM and Interstate 5, I was delighted to see the occasional ponderosa towering over homes in Spanaway and Parkland.  Not all of the disjunct population grows in forbidden territory!  All of the trees I spotted were growing on private property, however, so it wasn't until I spotted these trees on two opposing street corners in Parkland that I found caches of accessible fallen cones.

Female Lepthyphantes leprosus
Juvenile Micaria sp.
Tapping 50 cones I collected 12 spiders and 2 species, P. borealis again and Lepthyphantes leprosus.  The cones also held 3 large juvenile Tegenaria, reminding me that the size of the gap between cone scales is probably a limiting factor in which individuals can utilize a fallen cone's inner spaces.  I also tapped a juvenile ant mimic Micaria from these cones, the only spider all day that made me say "wow!".  My photo (right) doesn't do it justice.  In life, it looked like a red and black ant.  A really beautiful animal.

The sets of spiders I collected from Puyallup and Parkland were quite similar in composition to others I've tapped from cones in urban or suburban sites in the southern Puget Sound region.  And like those collected from other sites south or west of the Puyallup River, they lacked O. praticola.

A C-17 military transport from JBLM took wing as I tapped cones in Parkland

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