Jul 31

To celebrate the 20th International Bog Day on Sunday 31st of July, we are highlighting some of the amazing species that call the beautiful bog their home, and why they are such important habitats to preserve. They may have a bit of a bad reputation, but bogs are important ecological sites sustaining a unique array of species.                  

Adaptations to a nutrient-poor habitat

Bogs are often low oxygen, high carbon dioxide environments leading to acidic conditions. High acidity prevents nutrients being available to plants in a useful form and this has led to plants turning to more grisly methods to get the nutrients they need. These plants are able to break down and absorb nitrogen and other nutrients from animals, usually invertebrates such as insects. The sundew (Drosera anglica) lures insect prey to sweet sticky secretions on tentacle-like leaves. When an insect such as this common blue damselfly becomes trapped, the leaves slowly curl up and the sundew secretes enzymes which then digest the helpless insect. 

Common blue damselfly caught by sundew carnivorous plant

Common blue damselfly caught by sundew carnivorous plant

Also found in boggy areas, the fanged pitcher plant (Nepenthes bicalcarata) produces nectar which attracts invertebrates to the brim of its pitcher. When stepping on the slippery, waxy surface the invertebrates will often fall into the depths of the pitcher. Unable to escape, they drown in the pitcher fluid and their bodies are broken down by digestive enzymes.        

The common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) is yet another example of a carnivorous boggy plant, attracting insects to its leaves with a sticky sweet substance. Once trapped, the leaf slowly curls up and the insect is digested.    

Close up of a pitcher of the fanged pitcher plant

Fanged pitcher plant

Common butterwort with remains of small copper butterfly

Common butterwort with remains of small copper butterfly












Safe Haven

The Critically Endangered bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) inhabits swamps, sphagnum bogs and marshy meadows of the eastern United States. Finding safety on muddy ground, the bog turtle will burrow into the mud when alarmed. Perhaps this species is the inspiration behind the sewer-dwelling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! 

Bog turtle in mud

Bog turtle hidden in mud

Wealth of colour  

Contrary to popular belief, bogs aren’t dull and dreary. Prevalent on peat bogs, sphagnum mosses provide a carpet of colour. For example the Baltic bog moss (Sphagnum balticum) can form large floating mats of green and orange. The bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) is another vibrant bog-dwelling plant. It has bright yellow star-like flowers which were once used as a hair dye. The bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) can be found throughout most of Europe, with it’s delicate white flower brightening boggy areas.               

Peat bog with bog asphodel flowers

Peat bog with bog asphodel flowers

Bogbean in flower

Bogbean in flower











So why is there a need for an International Bog Day?  Boggy habitats are becoming rarer and rarer as they are increasingly being drained, dredged, filled or flooded, for urban development, agriculture, and pond and reservoir construction. Bogs are an important habitat for many specialised species, and they certainly deserve protecting and a day of recognition.       

Eleanor Sans and Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researchers      

  • Eliza Olson (August 1st, 2011 at 7:35 pm):

    Thank you for raising International Bog Day and the importance of bogs. Once you start learning about them, you discover how fascinating and interesting they are.

    The Burns Bog Conservation Society just celebrated its 15th International Bog day with the “Jog for the Bog” fundraiser and festival, This year we titled it “Come for the Run. Stay for the Fun.”

    The Society just published its “For Peat’s Sake: A Classroom Study of Burns Bog and Other Peatlands” and “For Peat’s Sake: the Story of Burns Bog and Other Peatlands” for those just interested in the information.

    The UN stated in 20007 that only 3% of the earth’s surface is covered with peatlands. Yet that small bit filters 10% of the world’s fresh water.

    About half of Burns Bog was purchased by three levels of government in 2004. Today it is threatened by the South Fraser Perimeter Road! This road is funded by the British Columbia government and the Canadian government. In spite of paying 73 milion for just over 5000 acres none of the original purchasing partners have got the message about how important this Bog is. T

    The Burns Bog Conservation Society is sueing the Federal government for failing to uphold the Conservation Covenant.

    Bertha Williams (Tsawwassen First Nation) and William Burnstick (Cree) are sueing the BC Government for failing to protect archaeological sites along the South Fraser Perimeter Road. One site, St. Mungo’s is estimated to be over 9000 years old–older than stonehenge, Egyptian pyramids and other ancient historical sites. The BC Government went so far as to hide the archaeological report to the BC Government under the guise that the release might affect real estate values1