Archivos de diario de octubre 2022

31 de octubre de 2022

Exploring underfoot - Suburban backyard, in the moss and leaf litter at the base of the maple tree

I get down on the lawn, zoom my camera in on a patch of moss or leaf litter, and gradually the world around me fades away as my consciousness shrinks down... and down... until the few square inches I'm focused on become a vast universe, and a tiny speck of movement is magnified into something legible -- a springtail crawling across a piece of decaying leaf.

The freeway is still audible, but I don't notice. I'm -- not elsewhere, but in another world. A world that's here, but usually unnoticed. I haven't gone anywhere, yet what I'm seeing is most likely unfamiliar to everyone who passes it.

Like any portal fantasy, stepping through the lens has a permanency. I'll leave this tiny patch of universe. It doesn't even take a step away - just sitting up takes it out of reach. But it won't leave me.

Springtails and moss are just some of the many things I was excited about in my move to Washington. In Los Angeles County, this world sleeps most of the year, except in a few irrigated spots under bushes.

I expect, without a great deal of certainty, that the suburban backyard will host a number of cosmopolitan species. I'm not able to identify springtails to the species level, but I enjoy seeing intricate color patterning on such tiny creatures. I love getting glimpses into their lives.

I did a bit of research in the heat of the Los Angeles summer, dreaming of mossy, springtail-laden forests, and discovered that the communities of springtails at different sites in a forest can be quite variable, both with the elevation and the variety of host plants present. I found a European study that also found that some species were exclusively arboreal. I wonder how much the species in this yard will vary over the course of the year, or from one section of the yard to another. I wonder if I'll find very different springtails in the Olympic rainforests. I wonder if springtails live high up in the moss-covered branches of bigleaf maples.

I love the little critters. They don't seem very popular compared to insects, but I think they're very interesting and ridiculously cute.

Publicado el octubre 31, 2022 06:36 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 8 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

Exploring underfoot - Capitol State Forest, first site

I'm not sure I'll be going back to Capitol state forest. There was way too much target shooting to do basically anything else. I got driven away from my first observation site by someone who pulled up very close and started shooting. I went to a different site in an area with signs posted indicating no shooting, and had JUST gotten out of my car before someone pulled up and started shooting. I have decided I do not approve of this sport.

The first site was in a small patch of mature forest with very deep leaf litter. I took a look at a bit right by the turnout - a few feet from the car. The diversity and density of life in the few square inches I contemplated was so great that I almost don't regret the day -- almost.

My favorite sighting was a tiny spider eating a globular springtail. I was sad to see one of my favorite taxa having met its end, but I also find it strangely pleasing to see them... let's say "participating in the food web."

Publicado el octubre 31, 2022 07:06 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Exploring underfoot - Capitol State Forest, second site

The second observation site I visited in Capitol State Forest was full of a large number of these big lumpy springtails - the very recognizable Poduromorpha. It was cool to see them there, because I didn't see any at the first site. (I identified these as Neanuridae, that being the name that came to mind for these lumpy friends, but I should probably go up to Poduromorpha, that being all I'm really sure about.)

I also saw a couple of these yellowish elongate springtails. They didn't look much like the ones I saw in the suburban yard, but were visually identical to the one I saw at the other site in Capitol State Forest.

I'm looking forward to further underfoot exploration... somewhere less shooty.

Publicado el octubre 31, 2022 07:25 MAÑANA por wildnettle wildnettle | 11 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario