Facts About Bogs For Kids: Animal And Plant Life Revealed

Oluniyi Akande
Nov 03, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Mar 03, 2022
A boardwalk leads the way through the bog

A bog is a type of ombrotrophic (those which are dependent on precipitation for their nutrition), mossy wetland.

It is an ecological community that grows on spongy soil made of bog peat, which is layers of decayed plant material. Peat bogs are low in oxygen and fairly acidic, which makes them a nutrient-poor formation.

The development of peatlands takes hundreds or even thousands of years. It began at the end of the last glacial age when flat, suspended lake basins were covered in fen vegetation.

A dense layer of fauna and waterlogged surface lowered the oxygen supply under the water, reducing the rate of decomposition. It resulted in the formation of layers of peat that created the bog soil.

What are bogs?

Bogs are freshwater wetlands that develop in poorly drained areas, like lake basins. Unlike low swamps, a bog is higher than the land encircling it. Depending on the landscape, water proximity, and nutrient level, peat bog can be categorized into five different types: valley bogs, raised bogs, blanket bogs, quaking bogs, and cataract bogs.

Valley bogs: these grow in mildly sloped valleys, with a peat layer filling the deepest part of it. Running streams might be present on the surface on which the bog environment depends. The climate is comparatively dry and warm.

Raised bogs: these grow in a lake that has peat buildups higher than the flat ground surface. The raised bog area is completely rain dependent, as surface water doesn’t reach this part.

This dome-like part is a few feet high and surrounded by vegetation. There are many types of raised bog, including coastal bog, plateau bog, upland bog, kermi bog, string bog, palsa bog, and polygonal bog.

Blanket bog: this bog forms in cool climates with consistent rainfall where the ground remains waterlogged with standing water. Here, the vegetation grows on the surface like a blanket layer.

A blanket bog can survive on neutral or alkaline substrates, unlike the others that are solely acidic. Blanket bogs can also form in intermediate climates away from direct sunlight, or in periglacial climates in a patterned form known as string bog.

Quaking bogs: these form as a 1.6 ft (0.5 m) thick floating mat in the drenched parts of raised and valley bogs, or around the rims of acidic lakes. The bog mat sometimes covers entire lakes, and strong movements cause ripples on their surface. The vegetation majorly consists of sphagnum moss, and sometimes white spruces grow as well.

Cataract bog: this forms on the edges of wet granite rocks by a live, permanent stream. This is usually a narrow and permanent ecosystem.

Where are bogs found?

Most bogs are found in the northern hemisphere. Peat bogs of the Western Siberian Lowlands in Russia are the most extensive wetlands in the world.

In North America, the Mackenzie River Basin and the Hudson Bay Lowland are well-known larger bogs. Some large peatlands are also found in northern Europe. Approximately 0.3% ground area of Austria is covered in smaller wetlands.

There is a lesser number of bogs found in the southern hemisphere. Magellanic moorland in South America is the largest bog in the southern part of the planet. A gigantic bog extends from the Republic of the Congo to its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Animal And Plant Life Of Bogs

Bogs are mostly covered in sphagnum moss, evergreen shrub, and dispersed conifer trees. But when it comes to animals, the population is quite low because of the acidic water and inedible vegetation. The plant and animal species found in peat bogs are quite unique.

The plant species include graminoids like various types of sedges, cotton-grasses, white beak-rush, and wool-grasses. Forbs like wild calla, grass-pink, marsh cinquefoil, pink lady-slipper, various types of sundew, bog buckbean, white-fringed orchid, rose pogonia, pitcher-plant, arrow-grass, bog goldenrod, horned bladderwort, bog bladderwort, and yellow-eyed grasses are the most common bog plants.

The sundew and pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that prey on various insects found in the bog environments.

Virginia chain-fern and sphagnum moss are the dominant part of the flora.

Shrubs rooted in the bog include bog rosemary, black chokeberry, buttonbush, leatherleaf, mountain holly, winterberry, Labrador tea, bog willow, different types of laurels, blueberries, cranberries, and wild raisins. Red maple, tamarack, black spruce trees, and evergreen trees, like pines, grow in the bog as well.

The animals of the bog environment include songbirds like swamp sparrows and song sparrows; shorebirds like Siberian cranes and yellowlegs; herptiles like eastern American toad, the northern leopard frog, the moor frog, the garter snake, the viper snake, bog turtles; mammals like short-tailed shrews, caribou, moose, the beaver, the meadow vole, the mink, the muskrat, and the masked shrew and insects like dragonflies, bugs, butterflies, moths, and spiders.

The habitat area of bog turtles contributes to the bog environment as it absorbs floodwaters and refills underground aquifers while purifying the bog water.

What is the environment of bogs?

Bogs are usually 6.5-33 ft (2-10 m) deep with a trapped water surface that restricts the water movement underneath the layer of moss. It limits the temperature exchange between the air and bog water resulting in an intense microclimate.

In this temperate environment, the temperature difference between day and night varies by more than 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). The surface plants and moss carpet maintain the water temperature under 50 degrees F (10 degrees C), even during summer.

At night, the bog often freezes. Wetlands, like bogs, grow where the climate is cold and full of moisture. A bog thrives on precipitations like rain and snow.

Characteristics Of Bogs

Even though different types of bogs are formed, there are some unique characteristics that commonly resonate with all of them.

A bog forms exclusively on peat soil that is thicker than 1 ft (0.3 m).

The peat bog soil is extremely acidic, nutrient-poor, and has a low fertility rate.

It is low in oxygen as flooding prevents the healthy flow of oxygen.

The bog ecosystem, consisting of both plants and animals, is completely dependent on rainwater instead of groundwater.

The dissolved peat tannins give the bog water a characteristic brown color.

Peat can be used as fuel.

Peat bogs absorb and store huge amounts of carbon dioxide that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the negative effects of climate change.

A peat bog and swamp may appear similar, but are quite different, with bogs being higher than the surrounding lands and swamps being lower. Bogs are entirely dependent on natural precipitation, whereas swamps feed off streams and rivers and have a drainage system.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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