Wednesday 25 November 2015

Know your Wetlands Classes, Part 2: Beautiful Bogs

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 2 of a 5 Part series entitled Know Your Wetland Classes. 

The theme this week is Bogs, and if you missed Part 1 (Fentastic Fens), you can find it here.
Bog complex near Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park, NL.


Bogs and fens are peatlands, meaning they have at least 30 cm of organic soil (peat). Unlike fens, a bog is ombrotrophic, meaning that the only source of water is precipitation, whereas a fen is minerotrophic, meaning it also receives water from surface and/or groundwater. Because of this, bogs are more acidic, nutrient poor and generally more dry than fens and other types of wetland. This creates a tough environment for plants, but those that do thrive here have developed some very interesting adaptations.

Pitcher plant in winter, NL.
Pitcher Plants

Most interesting among these species might be the carnivorous plants that have adapted to a lack of nutrients by feeding off of insects. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we might be most familiar with the pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), because it is the provincial flower. These vase-shaped plants entice insects to their water-filled leaf pouches with attractive patterns and colours. Once inside, smooth, downward-facing hairs inside of the leaves make it almost impossible for the insect to escape.  The insects drown in the 'bellies', where they eventually decompose and the plant can absorb their nutrients. 

Bogs in Newfoundland and Labrador

Bogs are the most frequent wetland type in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a common site as you drive across the province. A recent project to map the wetlands of the province using remote sensing will provide valuable insight into the total cover of the different wetland classes. Many of our stewardship communities have management units that include bogs, including Gambo, GanderWinterland and Happy Valley - Goose Bay.
The View from Joey's Lookout, Outside of Gambo, NL.