Saturday, February 18, 2017

17-Feb-2017 Olympia & Lacey, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
The weather still wasn't dry enough for a full spidering trip with Rod Crawford, but it was just fine for tapping fallen conifer cones.  I decided to head to Thurston County to see what I could find.

I first tried looking for fallen pine cones in South Sound Center in Lacey, but had no luck. Like so many malls in western Washington, black pines (Pinus nigra) are a dominant feature in the landscaping there, but the needle litter and fallen cones had been removed by groundskeepers. In fact, a crew of groundskeepers was thus occupied while I was there.  Sadness.

Towering Jeffrey pine
Luckily I didn't have far to go to find my first cone source. I'd driven just a few hundred feet down Pacific Ave. when I spotted a magnificent Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi) towering over the realm. The native range of the Jeffrey pine is mainly the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, so it was a real surprise to find one growing in Olympia, Washington. But it was conveniently located at the edge of a parking lot in an area apparently untouched by groundskeepers, and it was gorgeous, so I was happy enough to come upon it.

My excitement faded, however, when I realized that this tree's fallen cones were poorly opened and few in number.  Still, I did collect a female Tachygyna ursina (Linyphiidae) from the 19 cones I tapped, a species not previously recorded in the gridspace. So at least there was that.

Double row of Douglas-firs
Fallen Douglas-fir cones
My second sampling site was located in St. Martin's Park in Lacey. A double row of Douglas-fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii) borders much of the park and had dropped a wealth of cones and needle litter undisturbed by groundskeepers. The scales on Douglas-fir cones usually close in damp weather, but not always entirely.  I was able to find plenty of cones with scales open far enough to harbor small spiders.

Grammonota kincaidi females
Tachygyna vancouverana
I tapped 50 cones and collected 14 spiders.  Nine of the 14 were Tachygyna vancouverana -- 8 females and 1 male. I often tap T. vancouverana from cones in western Washington, but usually it's just a few individuals per 50 cone set. However, I have tapped crowds of 16 or 17 of them a few times, so finding 9 was unusual but not exceptional.  I also collected 2 female Grammonota kincaidi from this batch of cones, another linyphiid that I've only tapped from fallen cones once before.

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