Understanding wetlands : fen, bog, and marsh

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The vegetation typically comprises species that are characteristic of bog, fen and open water habitats. In some cases the mire occupies a physically transitional location between bog and fen vegetation, for example on the margin of a raised bog, or may be associated with certain valley and basin mires. Like most peatland types in Ireland, transition mire have declined in extent mostly as a result of activities such as peat cutting and mining, afforestation, agricultural drainage and reclamation, infilling, and fertiliser pollution from adjacent farmland.

Calcareous springs. Priority habitat under the EU Habitats Directive. Calcareous spring fens develop around permanent freshwater springs or areas of water seepage that are especially rich in calcium. The upwelling of water is often associated with an interface between permeable and impermeable rock or soil layers. The water supply may be from upwelling groundwater sources, or from seepage sources or sometimes from geo-thermal sources. Petrifying springs may be closely associated with Alkaline fens but with less fluctuations in water.

A key requirement is a steady flow of water, though this may dry up for short periods. Springs are often very small features covering no more than some tens of metres. Petrifying springs occur on shallow peaty or skeletal mineral soils.

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On contact with the atmosphere at the spring head, carbon dioxide is lost from the water or is depleted by photosynthetic activities of plants growing in the spring, which results in the precipitation of a calcium bicarbonate marl or tufa crust. The vegetation in such areas, and especially mosses may be coated in a thick crust of lime.

Larger petrifying springs may form tufa cones that constitute a singular habitat. Spring vegetation is characterized by an abundant or dominant moss cover and may or may not be peat-forming. Calcareous spring fens are rare in Ireland. As calcareous spring sites are often small in extent they are threatened by a range of land reclamation, turf cutting, and drainage activities, which can rapidly degrade their structure and function.


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Non-Calcareous springs. Non-calcareous springs that are irrigated and kept permanently moist by acidic to neutral water that is base-poor and typically oligotrophic.

Understanding Wetlands | Fen, Bog and Marsh | Taylor & Francis Group

They may be associated with skeletal mineral or peaty soils. Vegetation is typically dominated by mosses and a few higher plant species. Non-Calcareous Springs occur in lowland and upland areas, are often very limited in extent and may be associated with a variety of different habitats such as woodland, heathland, grassland, bogs, wet clay banks or gravel deposits or on exposed bare rock.

As these spring sites are often small in extent they are threatened by a range of land reclamation, turf cutting, afforestation and drainage activities, which can rapidly degrade their structure and function. For further information on these and other Irish wetland habitats, including the species that occur on them etc.


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What are wetlands?

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Different types of wetlands

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