Today In Newtopia: 01-06-2018

Most creatures living under the redwoods here are hidden during the day - under logs, behind bark, in burrows. It's easy to forget they're there at all.

An Ensatina salamander clinging to the underside of a log

This lack of awareness can have devastating results for some animals. The first log we looked under today was near the entrance to the preserve, in the middle of a dry streambed that's used as a trail. The little Ensatina eschscholtzii above was clinging to the log itself, and this one was bravely holding its ground on a scrap of wood:

A tiny Ensatina salamander on a piece of wood

The third Ensatina wasn't so fortunate. Its tail and a couple of feet had been flattened. My best guess is this salamander was in an unlucky position between the log & a scrap of wood when someone stepped on the log.

Please take care where you step in the woods.

An Ensatina salamander next to a US quarter. The Ensatina is small enough to curl up on the quarter

Again, no Taricha newts out and about, but we did encounter another California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus):

California Slender Salamander, a long, thin, tiny black-and-brown salamander

The banana slugs (Ariolimax sp.) are also more active this time of year:

A large green Banana Slug curled up on the forest floor

Nothing new to speak of in the fungi department, but I thought I'd demonstrate why Caulorhiza umbonata is called the "Redwood Rooter." This is what the mushroom looks like when you encounter it under the redwoods:

Redwood Rooter mushroom: a viscid brown mushroom with a broad cap and a short stipe

But if you dig into the duff & the dirt very carefully, you can extract the pseudorhiza (or some of it, anyway!)

Hand holding a Redwood Rooter mushroom, showing a long, taproot-like pseudorhiza covered in dirt

I didn't get the whole pseudorhiza here; these structures can be over twelve inches long! Not all mushrooms form pseudorhiza, and nobody's sure what the purpose of it is. But it's a good reminder that there's so much more going on in the woods than meets the eye.