Wetlands

UNDERC supports a large number of wetlands. These areas are important not only because they occupy a large portion of the land area, but also because they satisfy many other functions, including nutrient cycling, storage and regulation of water flow, and primary production. There are three main types of wetlands at UNDERC: bogs, shrub carrs, and marshes.

Bogs

Students sampling Ziesnis Bog

  • Characterized by acidic conditions and are often surrounded by tamarack (Larix laricina) and black spruce (Picea mariana)
  • Floor is covered by a thick layer of sphagnum moss (Sphagnum spp.)
  • Sphagnum can also form floating mats, held together by roots of ericaceous shrubs, such as cranberry (Vaccinium spp.), Labrador tea, leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), and bog rosemary
  • Other bog plants include orchids, and predatory plants such as pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) and sundews (Drosera rotundifolia)
  • Dead plant material (peat) accumulates reaching several feet in thickness and forming the base of the bog
  • Decomposition is extremely slow because of the lack of oxygen and the antibacterial properties of sphagnum

Shrub Carrs

  • Shrub swamp containing dense thickets of evergreen or deciduous shrubby species
  • Dominated by alders (Alnus incana)
  • Important in the nitrogen cycle because alders fix nitrogen in their roots and thus replenish this often limiting nutrient in the soil

Marshes

Students hunt for amphibians in a marshy area near a lake

  • Characterized by soft-stemmed plants such as cattails, grasses, and sedges
  • Soils can either flood periodically or constantly be saturated with water
  • Also support a host of submergent and emergent aquatic macrophytes in areas of open standing water
  • Often form along the borders of lakes or streams.