Monday, May 15, 2017

3-May-2017 Naneum Creek, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
Rod Crawford and I returned to the Ellensburg area, this time north of the city to the Naneum Creek bridge. But first, we stopped just east of Cle Elum at Indian John Hill Rest Area to tap some fallen pine cones.

Indian John Hill Rest Area

The facility features a fine ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) woods that serves as a dog walking area. I had passed on the opportunity to tap cones there when we passed by a few weeks prior. But not this time.

Rod tapping cones at Indian John Hill
Rest Area
Rod volunteered to help expedite the process, tapping 25 cones in a less trodden area containing intact understory while I tapped 27 cones from the more heavily trafficked "doggie zone", which lacked any understory. Between the two of us we collected four identifiable species including the "pine cone spiders" Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae) and Pholcophora americana (Pholcidae). But the most exciting spider in our catch was a male Orchestina sp. #1 (Oonopidae). I had tapped a male O. sp. #1 from a ponderosa cone once before, near Lake Chelan State Park in 2011. Aside from my two cone-derived specimens, the Burke Museum has only a few others, both collected from tree litter in nearby counties. Rod would sift more O. sp. #1 later the same day at Naneum Creek.

I was curious about the rest area's namesake, but the only thing an online search revealed was that John was a Kittitas man. However, the state library does have a photograph of his daughter Lucy Pahofta Bertram, taken about 1900 when she was elderly.

Naneum Creek Bridge

Cone sampling sites near Naneum Creek Bridge.
Our main sampling site for the day was the area around the intersection of Naneum Creek Road and Naneum Creek. I tapped three sets of cones there. The first cone source was a lone ponderosa growing above an irrigation canal at the riparian - steppe ecotone.

"Above canal" cone source. Naneum
Creek Bridge in background.
A standard sample of 50 tapped cones produced 11 spiders and 4 identifiable species. The most interesting species was Ebo evansae (Thomisidae), which I would eventually find in all three Naneum Creek cone samples. Like the Orchestina I found at Indian John Hill Rest Area, E. evansae is a rarity in terms of presence in the Burke Museum's collection.

Next I beat shrubs and swept herbs on the nearby hillside - sweaty work for someone no longer accustomed to warmth and persistent sunshine! Afterwards, while I cooled down on a shady boulder under the bridge, a big male Pardosa (Lycosidae) walked right onto my net!

Roadside ponderosa
Fallen roadside cones
My second set of cones came from another lone pine, this time growing next to the road. Tapping 50 cones, I collected 24 spiders. Of the six identifiable species, the most numerous was Zodarion rubidum (Zodariidae). This introduced species seems to be showing up in fallen cones here there and everywhere in the past few years. The other five species present were natives species typical of this part of the state.

"Homestead" Douglas-fir
The remnants of an old homestead are still to be found a little ways up the creek canyon from the bridge. They include concrete building foundations and clumps of daffodils, both sure signs of a former habitation. A lone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) towering over the spot was my third cone source. I tapped the usual 50 fallen cones and collected 9 spiders and 3 identifiable species. I had already collected those species from ponderosa cones at the first two sites, but the sample did provide an "east side" data point for Douglas-fir cones. Since my focus has been fallen pine cones, I've only tapped Douglas-fir cones the few times that pine cones were unavailable on the east side of the Cascades crest.

Read Rod's account of the day here.
Prairie star flower was blooming in profusion on the steppe, Lithophragma sp.

No comments:

Post a Comment