Fen habitats are America’s most diverse habitat for vegetation, and many rare plants are found in fens. A fen is a type of wetland formed when water bubbles up from an underlying aquifer via an Artesian well or seep. In the case of Gallagher Fen, the water emerges from a hillside seep because two aquifers intersect nearby increasing the underground water pressure. Since the water is emerging from deep within the earth through limestone gravel dumped by glaciers during the last Ice Age, the water is very alkaline and very cold, about 56 degrees year round.
Although it is a wetland, it is difficult for many plants to absorb the very cold water. So ironically drought-tolerant prairie plants thrive in fen meadows. Many of the plants found in local fens moved into the area when there were glacially fed lakes in Ohio. As the glaciers retreated these plants were unable to tolerate the warmer weather, and they disappeared from Ohio, but pockets of them remained in these scattered fens. Outside of Ohio’s fens you would have to go to northern habitats like northern Michigan or Minnesota to find other representatives of these plant communities.
A boardwalk leads visitors around the edge of Gallagher Fen.
In science fiction, there’s something called “terraforming” where people take an inhospitable, alien habitat and make it more earth-like so that people can live there. Well it turns out that sphagnum moss has mastered something similar — I’m going to call it “boggaforming” — where it takes a wetland and makes it more and more bog-like. One its secret weapons in this process is dead sphagnum moss. Here are some of the ways that previous generations of sphagnum moss contribute to the success of the current generation.
I took this photo while standing on the floating mat of sphagnum moss that makes up Cranberry Bog. I’ve labeled some of the other vegetation that is growing here without the benefit of any dirt.
Previously I’ve pointed out that Jackson Bog and Cedar Bog aren’t really bogs. Now it’s time to look at a nature preserve that really is the bog that it claims to be: Cranberry Bog State Nature Preserve. However it’s not like any other bog in the world since the entire bog is floating in the middle of a lake.
A view of the Nature Center from the boardwalk
Cedar Bog is a state nature preserve that’s managed by the Ohio Historical Society due to its historical significance… or should I say prehistorical significance? There are a number of plants and animals in the preserve that were common in this region at the close of the last Ice Age, but which are now found in cooler, North American climates. Because it is such a unique habitat, in 1941 it was the first nature preserve designated by Ohio. Today it is one of Ohio’s 25 National Natural Landmarks.
Posted in Nature, Southwestern Ohio
Tagged "Cedar Bog", "Champaign County", "Ohio Historical Society", "Wheelchair Accessible", Frogs, Lizards, Park Review, State Nature Preserve, wetland, wildflowers
I decided to write this after visiting Jackson Bog State Nature Preserve and reading all the informative signs there… except they weren’t all that informative for me because I didn’t know my swamps from my bogs. So when I came home I decided to learn a few wetland basics.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. In North America a wetland that has trees growing in it is called a swamp. That’s why Dawes Arboretum referred to the following grove of trees as “Cypress Swamp”.
Posted in Nature
Tagged "Jackson Bog", "nature profile", "Stark County", bog, Dawes Arboretum, fen, Frogs, habitats, marsh, moss, swamp, vocabulary, wetland