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Images Of Flora & Fauna Of Owens Peak (Work In Progress)
Cameras Used: Nikon D-3200, Nikon D-90, Sony HX-20, Sony HX-50, Sony HX-60, Sony T-10

© Latest Update W.P. Armstrong, 9 November 2021
 OwensPk1   OwensPk2A   OwensPk2B   OwensPk3   OwensPk4   OwensPk5   OwensPk6   OwensPk7   AbejaPond 
During my retirement years from the Life Sciences Department at Palomar College I decided to do a photographic survey of the flora & fauna of Owens Peak north of Palomar College, also known affectionally as "P" Mountain. In fact, while sitting on an outcrop of Santiago Peak metavolcanic rock at the summit I became interested in ants once again. Ants were my childhood passion back in the early 1950s. Hiking Owens Peak was not only interesting from a biological standpoint, but also served as good cardiovascular exercise. The images came from numerous hikes to the summit of Owens Peak dating back to day 1 of the 3rd Millennium & 21st Century (January 1, 2001). The following colored tabs contain images of ants from several survey areas in San Diego County, including nearby Twin Oaks Valley.
    7 Parts To Owens Peak Images (Work In Progress)    

     Part 1:  Geology, Lichens & Misc. Plants & Animals  

    Part 2A:  More Plants (Shrubs & Wildflowers) On Owens Peak

    Part 2B:  More Plants (Shrubs & Wildflowers) On Owens Peak

    Part 3:  More Animals: Insects & Spiders On Owens Peak

    Part 4:  More Animals: Birds & Reptiles On Owens Peak

    Part 5:  Scenic & Miscellaneous On Owens Peak

    Part 6:  Fungi, Lichens, & Ferns On Owens Peak

    Part 7:  Liverworts At Palomar College & On Owens Peak

    Abeja Pond:  Including World's Smallest Flowering Plant

Many Additional Owens Peak Images Appear On
Spiders & Insects and Other Wayne's Word Pages

Owens Peak #1: Geology, Lichens, Plants & Animals
Before roughly ten million years ago, the landscape of southern California was as flat as eastern Kansas is today, a land of low rolling hills. There were no mountains, no frequent earthquakes, no San Andreas Fault, and fewer habitats for plant species, resulting in much less diversity. Furthermore, due to the absence of great mountain chains like the Sierra Nevada and Peninsular Ranges, southern California received summer rainfall. Then, about ten million years ago, an oceanic spreading center was subducted under the North American continental crust here (a collision of two tectonic plates). This began the process of mountain building in Southern California, including formation of the San Andreas Fault, migration of the Baja California peninsula away from mainland Mexico, the loss of our summer rainfall, and the diversification of species for which California is famous. Note: The hard, black rock at the summit of Owens Peak is much older. It was formed during the Jurassic Period, 145 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Introduction by Tom Chester.
Armstrong, W.P. 2009 (with Tom Chester and Kay Madore).
The Santa Rosa Basalt Brodiaea: A New Species "Hidden In Plain Sight."
FREMONTIA 37 (2): 20-27.   
See PDF File

  Wayne's Geologic Time Scale in HTML  

View of Owens Peak looking north from the Palomar College Arboretum.
The elevation of flat-topped summit is 1,302 ft. (397 m).

View from Owens Peak looking southwest toward Palomar College. In the foreground is an outcrop of Santiago Peak metavolcanic rock. In the distance is the new Natural Science Building and the Palomar College Arboretum.

An outcrop of Santiago Peak metavolcanic rock at the summit of Owens Peak, better known as Palomar "P" Mountain. This dark, fine-grained, very hard rock dates back to the Jurassic Period, 145 million years ago, to a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. This heavy rock is resistant to erosion and forms some of the higher topography in coastal San Diego County. It is evident on nearby Double Peak and in the San Dieguito riverbed below the Lake Hodges Dam.

According to Archeologist Richard Carrico: "The people of the San Dieguito Complex fashioned elaborate stone tools from the metavolcanic rock that extrudes from the ancient river channel between Rancho Santa Fe and Lake Hodges. The spear points, knife blades, and scrapers manufactured by these craftsmen were used to dress the abundant game that foraged throughout the San Dieguito River Valley. The people drank from the clear springs in the nearby hills and made use of ponds formed by natural volcanic dikes that now echo with the voices of golfers and hikers. The prehistoric animals and waterfowl that came to the ponds found their way into the San Dieguito larders."

Santiago Peak metavolcanic rock from the summit of Owens Peak.

Santiago Peak metavolcanic from Owens Peak showing rectangular plagioclase crystals.
Bedrock "gray granite" (previously reported as tonalite) from construction site of Palomar College Science Building. Steve Spear of Palomar College and Mike Walawender of San Diego State University (retired) recently mapped this bedrock as monzogranite (personal communication, 2007).
  Santiago Peak Metavolcanic Rock In San Dieguito River  
San Marcos Gabbro In The Nearby The San Marcos Mts.

Rock Formations On The Santa Rosa Plateau
Basalt Outcrops On The Santa Rosa Plateau

Jerusalem cricket (Stenopelmatus) on Owens Peak (Santiago Peak metavolcanic rock).

16 Ant Species Found On Owens Peak
Click On Images To See Larger Images & Captions

1. Pheidole vistana

2. Pseudomyrmex apache

3. Prenolepis imparis

4. Messor andrei

5. Pogonomyrmex subnitidus

6. Solenopsis xyloni

7. Forelius pruinosus

8. Dorymyrmex bicolor

9. Linepithema humile

10. Tapinoma sessile

11. Crematogaster sp.

12. Formica moki

13. Camponotus dumetorum

14. Camponotus fragilis

15. Dorymyrmex insanus

16. Myrmecocystus testaceus
Note: #5 is Pogonomyrmex subnitidus; Myrmecocystus wheeleri occurs in the Merriam Mtns a few miles away.
Comparative Ant Sizes on Owens Peak:
Camponotus dumetorum is the Largest.
(Click On Image To View This Species)

I recently found another ant species in my traps on Owens Peak. I am reasonably certain it is a large-eyed, nocturnal species of honeypot ant (Myrmecocystus testaceus). It clearly belongs to the subfamily Formicidae with one petiole node and an acidopore. In addition, it has long maxillary palps typical of Myrmecocystus. I also collected this species in a trap at Daley Ranch. This makes a grand total of 16 species for Owens Peak!

Lichens & Tardigrades On Owens Peak

  List Of Lichen Images On Wayne's Word  

An outcrop of Santiago Peak Volcanic rock at the summit of Owens Peak, better known as Palomar "P" Mountain. This dark, fine-grained rock with white flecks dates back to the Jurassic Period, 145 million years ago. The lemon-yellow, crustose lichen is Acarospora socialis with a small patch of A. bullata (far right). The Acarospora doesn't have the marginally lobate thallus of Pleopsidium flavum and P. chlorophanum. The brown crostose lichen A. bullata is similar to the common species A. fuscata.

Yellow coblestone lichen (Acarospora socialis) on Owens Peak. The areoles are about 1-1.5 mm in diameter, some of which contain a sunken hymenial layer. Photographed with Nikon D-40x with manual 55 mm micro-Nikkor macro lens and 3 extension rings at f-22 (one second exposure).

Tardigrades Belong To The Seldom-Seen Phylum Tardigrada

Magnified view of yellow coblestone lichen (Acarospora socialis) and tardigrade (black arrow) on Owens Peak. The areoles are about 1-1.5 mm in diameter, some of which contain a sunken hymenial layer. The tardigrade is only about 0.25 mm long (1/100 of an inch).

Minute tardigrades (Phylum Tardigrada) are only about 0.25 mm long (1/100 of an inch). Although they are fairly common on mosses and lichens, they are rarely seen. They are called "water bears" because of their fat body with stubby legs bearing claws at the tips.

  Selection In Tardigrades: Are They Over-Equipped  

Tasty Salad Plant On Owens Peak

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata) is abundant on shady, north-facing slopes in early spring.

A delicious miner's lettuce-avocado salad for dinner.

Be Very Careful When Reaching Into A Patch Of Miner's Lettuce!

Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis ssp. helleri).

Another Southern Pacific rattlesnake in bushes along trail to Owens Peak,
Be careful when climbing around the boulders on Owens Peak north of Palomar College. When searching for ants, look carefully before placing your hands under shrubs or between boulders!

Beautiful red diamondbacks (Crotalus ruber) along trail to Owens Peak.

I take road trips to find & photograph interesting creatures (and trains). After driving 900 miles on my latest trip, I found this handsome alligator lizard on nearby Owens Peak.

Another serpent encounter on Owens Peak. Thankfully, I am not a small rodent! This handsome reptile is a California whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis).

Interesting Spiders On Owens Peak

Orb weaver spider (genus Metepeira): The web consists of both an orb web and an irregular 3-dimensional web. The retreat is a tangled, knotted web made with debris and leaves woven into the silk, placed so as to make a small protective tent for the spider. When disturbed it quickly drops out of the leaf cluster retreat and returns when the danger has passed. The genus was identified by Jim Berrian of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Silver argiope (Argiope argentata) on Owens Peak (28 October 2010).

A large banded argiope (Argiope trifasciata) photographed on Owens Peak north of Palomar College.

  See Banded Argiope On Owens Peak  
See A Tarantula on Owens Peak

Some Plants On Owens Peak

Venus looking-glass (Triodanis biflora), a seldom-seen wildflower in bellflower family (Campanulaceae).

Boneseed: Osteospermum moniliferum (syn. Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera)

A few boneseed shrubs (Osteospermum moniliferum) are
naturalized on shady, north-facing slopes of Owens Peak.

  More Images of Boneseed (Osteospermum moniliferum)  

This native shrub is very common on Owens Peak & the hummingbirds are very happy!

Red wildflowers in full bloom on Owens Peak (31 May 2016): Mimulus aurantiacus var. puniceus (monkey flower), Silene laciniata ssp. laciniata (Indian Pink) & Delphinium cardinale (scarlet larkspur).

Petrorhagia dubia (Carophyllaceae), an uncommon naturalized weed on Owens Peak.

Mission manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor).

Wild sweet pea (Lathyrus vestitus var. alefeldii)

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica).)

Canchalagua (Centarium venustum) of the gentian family: This has been an amazing spring for wildflowers on Owens Peak north of Palomar College. Note the unusual spirally twisted anthers.

Telegraph weed (Heterotheca grandiflora): It is important to keep an open mind in biology. Although this plant was considered an introduced, naturalized weed many years ago, it is now listed as a native (indigenous) wildflower endemic to California!