Signs and Interrelationships in Brown’s Bog

Nature has a way of sending us signs. When the leaves on trees turn up and the wind changes and the animals become scarce, we know a storm is coming. When walking through the woods to see an increasing presence of peat moss, we know we are approaching a bog, but I am led to wonder what about peat moss links it to the wet environment of Brown’s Bog.  Peat, or sphagnum, moss has adapted its structure to the watery habitats in which it is found.  The water supports the plant, so it does not need strengthening structures, meaning wet places are where the moss can grow and thrive most efficiently.  Tangentially—but still interestingly—at its base, sphagnum moss is decaying and dying, while is base is made up of a stem and branches that foster photosynthesizing leaves.  Further, as we witnessed in Brown’s Bog, peat moss makes up a forest floor that is supple and rubbery.  It has come to be known as a “habitat manipulator” for its effect on the atmosphere, adding significant amounts of hydrogen and its ability to spread into drier environments and provide habitat for many peatland plants, including carnivorous plants like the pitcher plant we saw in the bog.  What this microcosm shows us is the great influence one aspect of the environment bears on all its surroundings, even so far as to say the power the part has over the whole.  And even as the root of the moss is dying, the species is fostering new life.   

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