Sunday, May 7, 2017

29-Apr-2017 Brim Creek, Vader, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
I've finally seen living Ozyptila pacifica (Thomisidae)! Until this day, I had only seen preserved O. pacifica specimens at the Burke Museum. My excitement comes from having spent the past two years actively searching for its introduced European cousin, O. praticola, in an effort to determine O. praticola's distribution in Washington. But in all that time, or indeed in the eight years of spider collecting before I began the praticola project, I'd never seen the native species.

Female Ozyptila pacifica
I always search for O. praticola in fallen conifer cones, but I was essentially unable to sample that microhabitat at our Brim Creek collecting site since I was only able to find 11 open Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cones to tap. Consequently, I still don't know if O. pacifica, when it is present, utilizes fallen conifers cones like O. praticola does.

Cascara buckthorn starting to
leaf out. Note the moss
growing on base of trunk
I found a female O. pacifica in moss growing on the base of the trunk of a cascara buckthorn (Frangula purshiana) tree. The tree was in a clearing in the Douglas-fir forest that appeared to be an abandoned apple and cascara orchard. Rod Crawford also sifted a male O. pacifica from leaf litter he found in the band of deciduous forest growing along Brim Creek.

In the grand sweep of spidering history, this is hardly a noteworthy find. Ozyptila pacifica isn't a rare or enigmatic species. But for me personally, it was a thrill and a delight.

You can read Rod's description of the day here.

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