During this visit to my spot, I observed several different organisms. The first one I looked at was the Wood Fern (Dryopteris). I had noticed the Wood Ferns during my first visit due to the spores present on the backs of their leaves. This time, most of the spores were gone and I noticed that the small leaflets were turning white around the edges. Ferns are a characteristic of my spot because they’re the only visible plant under 3 feet tall at my site at the moment.
I also spotted a grub-like organism (grub: holotrichia)when I was moving some of the leaves off of the forest floor to observe the soil. This grub is characteristic of my place because there are countless organisms who use the rotting leaves on the ground for cover, moisture, and nutrients. I never notice them at first glance, but they after some time of observing my area, they make themselves known. The soil was very moist and nutrient rich, which is good for all of the plant life and organisms that live there.
The third organisms were three different types of trees. Surrounding my tree in the overstory are Sugar Maples (acer sacchurum), Yellow Birches (Betula alleghaniensis), White Oaks (Quercus alba), and White Pines (Pinus strobus). While I can’t be sure because my tree doesn’t have leaves, I suspect it was one of the oaks because of its’ bark. I also found an acorn in the leaves beneath the tree.
The fourth was something I hadn’t seen at my spot before, Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). When you angled to leaf just right, you could see the trail that a slug (Gastropoda) had left behind. This characterized my spot because it’s a safe haven for everything to thrive, and I’ve always seen slugs there! I also found a spider web nestled in the bark of the tree.
Another organism characteristic to my area is the Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), which was starting to fruit. Barberry is characteristic of my area because it’s one of the few shrubs ground around my tree.
The final evidence of an organism that I noted was a dirt mound at the base of the tree. This dirt mound was actually worm poop, otherwise known as castings, made from the Earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) when they surfaced during the storm the night before my visit.
Since my last visit, my area has changed drastically. What used to be a secluded area tucked away in the leaves, you can now see a lot of the surrounding forest. The brook flooded exponentially and caused erosion on some of the banks. Turbidity had increased as well, because I could no longer see the bottom. Creating the map forced me to really take in all of the details of my area, not just the mushroom tree, but all of the other things that make that spot truly unique and special.