30 December 2007

AC-1 is still standing


I found this dead tree and collected snail shells around it for the first time on 29 March 1998. It subsequently became my station AC-1, about a half an hour hike from my house. I returned to the spot on 21 October 2001 and then forgot about it.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the tree still standing upright 10 days ago on 20 December. I took the above picture on that occasion. The tree still has most of its main branches, the topmost of which reach about 30 m above the ground. If it lasts until the end of next March, it will be an at least 10 year-old dead tree. The entry in my notebook for 29 March 1998 reads: Most of its bark has fallen off & pieces of it are covering the ground. That means at that time the tree had already been dead for some years. It must have had, and still does, a strong trunk and deep roots. Another factor that may have contributed to its longevity is that in its vicinity there is no running water, which tends to destabilize the soil and loosen the roots of even live trees.

Disappointingly, however, AC-1 is not an especially rewarding spot as far as the diversity and numbers of land snails are concerned. In the past, I had found only a few shells at every visit. This time was no different: all I could find during a brief search was a measly Zonitoides arboreus shell.


I did see several isopods, though, under the leaf litter and pieces of wood. They all appeared to be the common Trachelipus rathkii. Here is one photographed in the field.


I have to remember to go back there on the 10th anniversary.

1 comment:

xoggoth said...

They do seem to last a very long time, esp. pines. I always like the look of those gnarly old dead deciduous trees one sees in the country, just the main twisted branches and almost white. They are all haunted by ghosts of hanged highwaymen.