Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alpine larch

A call from Don Pigott from Yellow Point Propagation provided a much needed excuse for a subalpine escape. Don wanted mature larch cones. The details were to find a sample of viable seeds from 10 individuals in two separate stands. Adrian Leslie and I decided to pick a relatively close by and familiar location to look for some these samples - above Whitewater ski hill, in Ymir Basin.
Leaving the ski runs below Ymir Basin

Adrian and Ellie looking for trees that had cones
 Once up to the shorter trees that we could access with our pruning pole, we discovered that other seed predators were well at work.

Adrian inspecting a poorly developed cone
 This critter was probably Strobilomyia macalpinei, something that I found a fair amount of in the stands I suveyed in the Rockies.
A larvae were already harvesting the seeds!

An old vet..

This was a classic open, timberline stand, where avalanche disturbance and deep spring snow packs allowed the larch to continuously regenerate among surviving older seed producers. The other high elevation species, spruce, fir, and whitebark pine were relegated to protected ribbons below rock outcrops, or mature larch groups. 

In the end, a dissapointing cone crop - but a beautiful day out in the mountains and great break from the office!

Me clipping off cones, using a pruning pole.

Another cone with a smaller larvae instar

Two well developed cones, and a short shoot that couldn't make up its mind whether to be a cone or a branch

A local resident (marmot) checking us out

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