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The vegetational ecology of black spruce swamps, fens, and bogs in southern boreal Manitoba, Canada

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black spruce swamp, bog, boreal, bryophyte, classification, depression wetland, fen, lichen, peatland, vascular plant

Abstract (summary)

We undertook a survey of the vegetational ecology of 94 peatlands at Duck Mountain, Manitoba to discriminate differences among peatland types at the southeastern edge of the boreal plain, especially black spruce swamps, and to clarify boreal swamp terminology. The majority of peatlands surveyed were wooded, relatively small (mean = 1.8 ha), and in depressions on the landscape. A classification and indicator species analysis identified the dominant peatland types as moderate-rich fens, with bogs and extreme-rich fens as rare. Black spruce swamps were relatively common and often found on gentle slopes. They were distinguished from wooded fens by larger trees (mean height = 9.7 m; diameter = 12.6 cm), denser overstory (68%), shallower peat depth (90 cm), and small size (1.6 ha). Although most similar to wooded moderate-rich fens by vegetation, black spruce swamps have a denser bryophyte layer and more mesic plant species. Significant indicator species on hummocks and drier areas include Pleurozium schreberi, Hylocomium splendens, Equisetum sylvaticum, Petasites frigidus var. palmatus, Cornus canadensis, Linnaea borealis, Rosa acicularis, Moneses uniflora, Geocaulon lividum, Orthillia secunda, Equisetum arvense, Listera cordata, and Mertensia paniculata. Species characteristically found in black spruce swamp hollows include Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Rhizomnium gracile, and Plagiochila porelloides. We discuss conifer swamp terminology globally, and recommend that black spruce swamps be recognized as a peatland type distinct from eastern white cedar-dominated boreal swamps found in the eastern boreal region, wooded fens, and black spruce-dominated uplands.

Publication Information

Locky, D. A., Bayley, S. E. & D. H. Vitt. (2005). The vegetational ecology of black spruce swamps, fens, and bogs in southern Manitoba, Canada. Wetlands, 25(3), 564-582. doi:10.1672/0277-5212(2005)025[0564:TVEOBS]2.0.CO;2


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