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The Biology of Peatlands$
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Hakan Rydin and John K Jeglum

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198528722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198528722.001.0001

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Sphagnum – the builder of boreal peatlands

Sphagnum – the builder of boreal peatlands

Chapter:
(p.58) 4 Sphagnum – the builder of boreal peatlands
Source:
The Biology of Peatlands
Author(s):

Håkan Rydin

John K. Jeglum

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198528722.003.0004

Boreal peatlands would have neither their extent nor their particular features if it were not for the peculiar characteristics of the peat mosses — the genus Sphagnum. Peat mosses are very special bryophytes, particularly adapted to acidic, cool, waterlogged, and extremely nutrient-poor conditions, and they create these hostile environments themselves. In short, Sphagnum mosses are successful in boreal mires because: (1) they make their surroundings acidic, wet, and anoxic; (2) they tolerate and require only low concentrations of solutes; (3) they are resistant to decay; and (4) there are a number of species that specialize in different types of peatlands. Among their peculiar adaptations focus is on their water-holding capacity, and their production of organic compounds that modify the environment for other organisms and retard the activity of decomposers. Different Sphagnum species are excellent environmental indicators.

Keywords:   boreal peatlands, peat mosses, bryophytes, nutrient-poor conditions, sphagnum

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