Field Journal: 10 - 16 March 2019 - Under-Log Edition

After a rainy start to the week, we had long string of warm, sunny days - the first real taste of springtime weather here in Roy's Redwoods. This felt like a good time to focus on the critters who live under logs.

Hanging Slime Mold (Badhamia utricularis) Sporangia

The Badhamia sporangia I photographed last week have matured to an eye-catching pale blue.

Unidentified Slime Mold (Myxomycetes)

I found these growing on the same log as the Badhamia. They look like they've been dusted in powdered sugar.

Unidentified Slime Mold (Myxomycetes)

I don't know this slime mold's name, but they're fruiting all over the place. I also found them in the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed and along Devil's Gulch Trail in Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Anatomy of a Slime Mold Fruiting Body

These sporangia beautifully demonstrate their anatomical structure. I hope you like vocabulary words, because I have so many vocabulary words.

  • The stalk is an elongated structure that lifts (or lowers) the spore-bearing part of the sporangium away from the surface it's growing on. Slime molds that don't have stalks are called sessile.
  • The hypothallus is the thin layer of tissue that connects the stalk to the surface. It's the part of the slime mold that the sporangium rises from. The hypothallus can surround just one individual fruiting body, or it may be connected to other fruiting bodies.
  • The sporotheca is the rounded, spore-bearing part of the sporangium.
  • The sporotheca is enveloped by an outer skin called the peridium.
  • When the peridium breaks apart, it releases spores and reveals the threadlike capillitium inside.
  • The cuplike portion of the peridium that remains in some slime molds is called the calyculus.
Unidentified Slime Mold (Myxomycetes)

For more on slime molds, including what the heck a sporangium is, see my Slime Mold Special Edition.

Unidentified Slime Mold (Myxomycetes)

It finally occurred to me to take a photo with something in it for scale.

Unidentified Slime Mold (Myxomycetes)

Behold this glorious mess. There is so much going on under logs.

Unidentified Spider

I spotted bold blonde arachnid on top of a log, which is a new experience for me. They were very good at being very still.

Reticulate Taildropper (Prophysaeon andersoni)

The Reticulate Taildropper is a species I've only found under logs. They're tiny, as slugs go - most of the ones I've spotted are about an inch long.

California Lancetooth Snail (Haplotrema minimum)

Lancetooth is another smallish mollusc - this one was about 3/4 inch in diameter. What they lack in size, they make up for in horror: This snail drills through the shells of other snails in order to eat them from inside. Tiny and terrifying.

Desert Stink Beetle (Genus Eleodes)

The Desert Stink Beetle is the most common insect I find under logs. I caught this one chowing down on the splintered remains of another Lancetooth snail, under the same log as the snail above. I wonder, do Lancetooths predate on each other? And should I be calling them Lanceteeth? That just feels wrong. I'm sticking with Lancetooths.

Yellow-Eyed Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica)

Amphibian skin is endlessly fascinating.

Yellow-Eyed Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica)

In the right light, I sometimes see a touch of iridescence.

California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)

A Slender Salamander's spine is remarkably flexible, even for a salamander.

Pacific Trillium (Trillium ovatum)

Above ground, more Trillium are blooming under the redwoods' shade.

The creeks are still running, which means that the hillsides haven't finished draining off last week's rain. Next week's forecast calls for more showers.

Previously: 03 - 09 March 2019 - Signs of Spring Edition

Next: 17 - 23 March 2019 - Color & Light Edition

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