Page 12 - The Life of a Raised Bog
ISSUE : Issue 12
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1975/12/1
It is a relatively stable phase in bog growth:dwarf trees have been found there ex? ceeding 90 years of age. Hummocks are the distinguishing feature* Black Spruce is "the major vascular plant involved in hummock building* Once established its upward growth corresponds with the upward growth of the hummocks***.(Its) branches are buried by Sphagnum species, but through layering, branch-tips turn upward and con? tinue to grow above the surface." The upward growth results in further drying and the Sphagnum species are replaced by lichens, especially Reindeer moss (Cladonia rangiferina) and Alpine Reindeer moss (C* alpestris) • and, huramock growth slows down* It would be a mistake to think that, the drier portion of the bog is now capable of supplying nutrient to support the lichens* Of lichens, Erskine writes: "Lichens are the poor relations of the plant kingdom, living on the leavings of the world, occu? pying places too barren to attract rivals and growing with infinite slowness and patience* (Many people call them "moss," but true mosses are green and have stems and leaves, whereas most of these are greenish only when wet and are usually in the form of sheets or tubes*) Lichens are really communities rather than plants* They are an unwilling partnership between certain fungi and microscopic green algae* The algae can manufacture their food from water and air, but without water they die* The fungi cannot manufacture their own food, but their spongy bodies store water for the algae and they feed upon the food the algae produce* The algae are wild species cap? tured and tamed by the lichen; the fungi are never found without the algae but are the dominant partners in the community*" Lichens survive in the bogs because they can fend for themselves* Cyclic Succession of the Ponds The pohds created remain and new ones are formed • and water level is controlled by rainfall and evaporation* Comeau writes: "Ponds are often found at different eleva? tions in the same section of a bog (v'ich) demonstrates the water holding capacity of the Sphagnum banks.,..In the ponds a cyclic succession occurs resulting in a con? tinued upward growth of the bog surface." It begins with the establishment of a Yel? low Pond Lily known as the Cow-lily (the Nuphar variegatum association) • starting with algae that colonize the bottom and edges of the pond. The Cow-lily and the Pipewort (Eriocaulon septangulare) grow mainly in the deeper parts. The filling-in process speeds up as Sphagnum cuspidatum starts growing profusely around the edges. It works toward the center, aided by shrub species around the edge with branches ex? tending into the pond. Vegetation mats are formed, giving strength against the wind, and the Sphagnum works in from the edges. These mats break up and sink, speeding the filling-m. The underlying peat eventually surfaces • and upon this Beak-rush (Rhyn- chospora alba) and Sundew (Drosera intermedia) establish in association. Nichols called this stage "muck mat." The water levels fluctuate and the area remains semi- aquatic • but the muck is firmed up by Leafless Bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta) and its extensive system of underground rhizomes. The exposed crust dries and tirms. The : • CampGill CampGill Lighthouse Cape Breton Shopping Plaza Sydney River, Nova Scotia CampGill Electrical Supplies Ltd. P. 0. Box 386 Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia 'J''''IS' IDEAL ICE CREAM The Only Ice Cream Manufactured in Cape Breton Prince Street, Sydney 564-4549 Cape Breton's Magazine/12
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