Field of Science

Fun Times in Bogs

I have been to several bogs since I started studying mosses. These include a couple of local bogs in Connecticut and I visited a bog in Costa Rica this past January. The picture doesn't look much like a bog from this angle. There are quite a few shrubs growing in the bog and a tree growing at the edge. But when you look down you are greeted by the most typical bog moss of them all Sphagnum (peat moss). The second photo is of the ground covered by Sphagnum, peeking up between the blades of grass. If you have never been to a bog it is quite the experience. Boots or water shoes are a necessity, because bogs are very wet places. Walking on Sphagnum covered ground is like walking on an enormous sponge. It is squishy, wet and can be hard to keep your footing. This is due to a couple of fantastic Sphagnum properties.
1) Sphagnum can hold up to 20X its dry weight in water.
2) The water laden Sphagnum sets up anaerobic conditions, in which the nothing decays. Thus all of the dead Sphagnum just piles up with the newest plants growing on top of the old dead ones. That creates the spongy effect.

I also visited a floating bog in Wisconsin a few years back, where we had to take a small boat out onto the lake to reach a floating Sphagnum mat. Walking on this bog was like walking on a water bed. The ground was very unstable and I could feel the water rolling under me. Floating bogs such as this are a little dangerous and the buddy system should definitely be in effect. If you jump up and down too violently or don't watch out for holes in the Sphagnum, you can fall through. One grad students from Harvard University who was on this trip found this out the hard way. He didn't watch his footing and sank into the water up to his chest. Fortunately there was a shrub nearby that he grabbed on to, so he didn't go under and was able to pull himself out. But it was scary none the less.

I think that bogs are a really awesome natural habitat. They are totally fun to visit and I would highly recommend visiting one if you ever have the chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS