Thursday 10 September 2015

Know Your Wetland Classes, Part 1: "Fentastic" Fens

A few weeks ago I helped out my colleagues over at Ducks Unlimited Canada with wetland classification surveys near Deer Lake (a wetland stewardship community!). The field work was part of a large project to map the wetlands of Newfoundland and Labrador using remote sensing techniques. It was challenging, and fun, to classify over 30 wetlands in a three day period!

Did you know that there are 5 classes of wetland in Canada? Learn to recognize them and get acquainted with the wetlands near you. You can learn about all 5 classes of wetland in greater detail by reading the Canadian Wetland Classification System. This post is Part 1 of a 5 Part series entitled Know Your Wetland Classes. This week, I'll start with Fens.

Wetlands with a build-up of organic soil, or peat, are called peatlands. They are found in cool, wet environments where decomposition is slow, allowing for this build-up of organic material. Most of the natural wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador are peatland, so chances are, you've seen one before! There are two types of peatland: Fen and Bog. 


Fens are peatlands that receive at least some of their water input from groundwater inflow. Water table fluctuates throughout the year, and is usually close to or above the ground surface. 

Fen Plants
Because groundwater is rich in dissolved nutrients and is less acidic than precipitation, fens have a higher diversity of plant life than their peatland compatriots, bogs. You'll find all sorts of neat plants here, including sedges, moss, Scheuchzeria (left) and Grass of Parnassus (right).

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