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Wading Right InDiscovering the Nature of Wetlands$
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Catherine Owen Koning and Sharon M. Ashworth

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226554211

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226554495.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Stuck in the Muck: Bogs and Fens

Stuck in the Muck: Bogs and Fens

(p.87) Chapter 4 Stuck in the Muck: Bogs and Fens
Wading Right In

Catherine Owen Koning

Sharon M. Ashworth

Catherine Owen Koning

University of Chicago Press

Bogs and fens are peatlands, which have different water sources and ecological development. Researchers use cues from the vegetation zonation and species to understand the hydrology, history and ecology of peatlands. Bogs require cool, damp climates and low-nutrient, acidic water, which slow decomposition thus preserving the remains of plants, wildlife and humans. Bog plants get most of their water from precipitation, which is acidic and low in nutrients. The ecosystem engineers of the bog are species of Sphagnum moss, which alter the hydrology and chemistry. Sphagnum mosses have structural adaptations and mutualistic microbial relationships to assist in their dominance of the bog. Other bog plants have adaptations to deal with low nutrients and high acid, such as carnivory and evergreen leaves. A fen is a peatland fed by groundwater, precipitation and often surface water. A fen may develop into a bog over time. The type of fen depends on the water sources, but most have less acid and more minerals than bogs. Fens may harbor rare plant species, but are vulnerable to nutrient pollution, climate change and groundwater diversion. Some of the most diverse fens are isolated from surface water and thus may receive less legal protection.

Keywords:   peatland, bog, fen, Sphagnum moss, ecosystem engineer, groundwater, acidity of water, minerals

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