Monday, May 22, 2017

19-May-2017 Middle Canyon

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
One of the Columbia River's 14 dams is situated just a few miles south of the Interstate 90 river crossing at Vantage. The resulting reservoir, called Wanapum Lake, drowned the combined mouths of Johnson Creek and Middle Canyon and created a little bay. Someone subsequently planted dozens of Siberian elms (Ulmus pumila) and other exotic trees around the bay to create a private campground called Getty's Cove. Since the closing of Getty's Cove in 2008 and Grant PUD's reinvention of the area as The Cove Recreation Area, it has become a very pleasant little oasis for spider collecting and other low impact activities.

Ponderosa pine "island" in
gravel parking lot "sea".
Juvenile Hololena in web
in cone
One tree planted in the gravel parking lot caught my eye: a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) with a nice accumulation of fallen cones beneath. The set of 50 cones I tapped was apparently an oasis within an oasis, because it produced an astonishing 206 spiders! The vast majority of them were Dictyna calcarata (Dictynidae): 15 females, 7 males and 152 juveniles. I've tapped this anthropocentric species from cones only once before, but also in great number, near Blockhouse Creek in Klickitat County. Another species not commonly found in cones but present in surprising numbers in this batch was Salticus scenicus (Salticidae): 2 males and 7 juveniles. The most numerous unsurprising spiders present were 13 juvenile Hololena (Agelenidae).

Siberian elms line The Cove's shore
The shape of the samaras helped me
identify the tree species.
I took a break from cone tapping to explore the area a bit, turn some rocks, and beat elm tree foliage. The elms were a good place to collect mature Phanias watonus (Salticidae), quite an attractive species. I wish I'd taken the time to photograph a few. By the end of the day Rod Crawford and I would find them present in numerous other microhabitats including cones and shrub foliage.

Black pine next to Huntzinger Road
Attempting to live up to the popular aphorism "Leave no cone untapped", I wended my way back to a pine that Rod and I had spotted earlier at the intersection of Huntzinger Road and the gated Doris Road. Although it looked like a ponderosa from a distance, it turned out to be the same exotic species I find in abundance in mall parking lots in western Washington: black pine (Pinus nigra).

Fallen black line cones
The cones under this tree were all fully open and present in abundance. And like their ponderosa cousins in The Cove's parking lot, they contained numerous spiders. I tapped 50 cones and collected 71 spiders and 6 identifiable species. Once again, dictynids made up the majority of the sample although D. calcarata wasn't the only dictynid species present. Poecilochroa montana (Gnaphosidae) and Hololena nedra (Agelinidae) were the next-most abundant species present.
Northbound Huntzinger Road. The Cove lies to the left, Wanapum Lake to the right.
Doris Road beckons.

No comments:

Post a Comment