Saturday, July 8, 2017

27-June-2017 Cole Creek, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
Rod Crawford and I headed into the Cole Creek valley, which lies southwest of Easton. The Forest Service roads were in good repair but were in active use by fully loaded logging trucks. I appreciated the attentive driver of one such truck who stopped so that we could pass safely. I was relieved when we turned off onto a side road the loggers weren't using and parked near the restful Cole Creek crossing.

Near Cole Creek

One of my cone sources in the
dense forest above Cole Creek
Fallen cones in dappled light
Scouting out the area, I quickly spotted a western white pine (Pinus monticola) growing along another side road that was almost grown closed with alder (Alnus rubra). But although there were numerous cones on the tree, I could find none on the ground beneath it! Luckily, several additional white pines were visible in the surrounding forest. It took some uphill bushwhacking to reach them, but my efforts paid off. I found and tapped 56 fallen white pine cones, which produced 29 spiders from 9 families. Eight species were identifiable, but none dominated the sample. This was the only microhabitat in this gridspace from which we collected 4 of these 8 species.


Roadside cones
Looking south down the road,
pine tree on right, part of Cole
Butte in distance
After my Cole Creek cone sample was in the bag, I thought I'd indulge in a little sightseeing. My plan was to visit a small subalpine lake farther up the valley that I'd seen on the map. When I didn't find the lake after walking far enough to have reached it, I realized that I had taken the wrong road. But the road I was on did offer some nice consolation prizes. Not only did I enjoy exploring a beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) meadow and have great views of Kachess Lake and Three Queens mountains, I found a nice deposit of fallen white pine cones right next to the road!

Male Philodromus oneida
tapped from cone
Beargrass and lupine in
a forest clearing
As chance would have it, I again found 56 fallen cones to tap. This batch of cones produced 34 spiders, 22 of which were Tennesseellum formicum (Linyphiidae).

Only one of the 4 species identifiable in this sample was collected in any other microhabitat this day. Adding the three cone-only species I collected here to the four I had collected from the site near Cole Creek, 7 of the approximately 34 species that Rod and I collected this day were collected only from fallen pine cones!


Roadside ponderosas in Easton
Some cones were on gravel, others
on pine needle litter.
On the way home we made a quick stop in Easton to tap some ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) cones. Since the cones had fallen near the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, we saw this as an opportunity to perhaps find more Zodarion rubidum (Zodariidae). But 50 tapped cones landed us almost no spiders at all: only 2 juvenile linyphiids and a juvenile philodromid.

Read Rod's account of the day here.

Looking north from below Goat Peak: Cabin Creek on valley floor,
Kachess Lake in the distance, and Three Queens on the horizon.

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