This exercise focuses on a little-known microhabitat -- the pine cone. A pine cone's primary function is, of course, reproduction ... housing the seeds of the next generation of conifer trees. However, pine cones are also the basis of a food web that provides both resources and living space for a wide variety of small arthropod species. The procedure outlined below is designed to examine this microhabitat and compare its community diversity among different species of conifers and habitats.
The exercise is based on a 1985 paper, Life in a Pine Cone, by David L. Kulhavy, Robert S. Baldridge and James W. Bing published in Texas Natural History. The paper is the basis of a Ward's Bulletin of the same title. The procedures have been modified somewhat in cooperation with D. L. Kulhavy for use in this exercise.
Students, or teams of students, will collect a standard sample of cones from a species of pine tree in a habitat of their choice, extract the arthropods associated with their cones, and provide numerical and descriptive data in a standard format. To ensure comparability between samples, a sampling protocol will be followed.
Kulhavy, David L., "Life in a Pine Cone" (2000). Faculty Publications. 269.