Bogs are a unique type of freshwater wetland prevalent in northern European countries such as Germany and Denmark. There are also a notable few in the continental United States. Bogs are an important ecosystem because of the distinct biodiversity that is found there. There are different kinds of bogs such as eutrophic bogs or valley bogs. The type of bog that I find most interesting is the quaking bog.
Bog soil is highly acidic in pH. In addition, the primary form of freshwater for bogs is from rainfall. Hence, they are also low in nutrients. All bogs have a limited amount of oxygen. As a result of this and the acidity, plant matter, mostly from Sphagnum moss and other mosses, decays slower than normal. Layers of these decaying plants accumulate forming peat, a thick and soggy substance. These peat layers can form ‘floating mats’ with more vegetation growing on top. Quaking bogs earn their name due to the wave like movements that are generated by the mats when a person or animal steps on it.
Another interesting phenomenon observed are ‘bog bodies’. These are people who have been trapped in peat bogs and mummified. Oftentimes, floating mats of bogs are not structurally strong enough to hold weight. If a person or animal steps on it, they can fall through the mats and die. However, the environment of the bog prevents decay and instead the bodies are preserved naturally.
Peat is the first stage in the formation of coal. Over thousands of year, rocks and other sediments press down on the peat to squeeze out water and form coal, an important fossil fuel. Peat can also be used as a fuel source. Bogs however, are extremely sensitive to changes in pH and can be destroyed easily. Much of the habitat has been destroyed in England for example, because of extensive peat extraction. Therefore, it is important we take care of our bogs, not only for their ecosystems and biodiversity, but also for their unique characteristics.
Posted by “Priya Bikkani” (1)
That is really interesting how people and animals can get sucked into bogs and be naturally preserved by the bog itself. Do you know if falling into a bog is like falling into quicksand in the sense that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get out of that predicament? It's interesting that peat can be used as an energy source; this could add to alternative energy sources in the future (if peat can be optimized efficiently).ReplyDelete
I imagine it isn't as slow a process as sinking into quicksand. Here is a link to a video to help you visualize a quaking bog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFvYN_zi1esDelete
Additionally, I believe peat isn't a reliable source of energy as the rate at which we consume it is much faster than the rate at which it forms (upto a 100 years).
- Priya Bikkani
In many places along the Irish country side peat moss is still used as a way to heat homes and businesses. But I have a quick question, you say that they are filled mostly by rain water, does that mean they are rarely attached to ground water sources like lowland wetlands? Also, what about the environment of the bogs prevent decay from occuring?ReplyDelete
Bogs are formed in areas of depression like valleys where water drains into (can be from rainwater or other sources like run-off). Most wetlands and other ground water sources are interconnected and continuously exchange water above and below the ground. However for most, their only source of new freshwater is from rainfall.Delete
Bogs have a highly acidic environment (think pH levels similar to vinegar). Hence, these bodies are almost 'pickled' to be preserved. The skin is preserved pretty well but the acid dissolves the bones usually.
I definitely remember seeing these in some sort of videos before, but I didn't know they had a name along with all these cool properties. It sounds like a harsh environment for a species to live in due to low nutrients, oxygen, and the high acidity. Are there any species that only reside within bogs or that have adapted unique traits to survive?ReplyDelete
Yes! Actually, one interesting type of species that seem to do well in this environment are insectivorous and carnivorous plants. They derive much of their nutrition from trapping insects. However, they still need to perform photosynthesis for energy.Delete
- Priya Bikkani
Is there any way that this formation of "peat" could be sped up in order to increase the coal production and aid in the formation of a crucial fossil fuel?ReplyDelete