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Bog community

Of all the aquatic communities, none are more intriguing than bogs.  In physical and chemical characteristics, they differ sharply from ponds and swamps.

 To begin with, bogs are found where drainage is blocked, must have cushion-like vegetation and all have an accumulation of damp, organic vegetation.  Since drainage is inadequate in this case because of sheets of plastic, the soil is saturated with water the year around and little organic matter is carried away or mixed with mineral soil from below.  Drainage is further congested by plant growth.  As the dead vegetation accumulates in the water, the bacteria population continues to also increase.  A point is reached where almost all of the oxygen in the water is used up creating anaerobic conditions.  In other words, the water has no oxygen and it can be very stinky.

The students can stick their fingers in the muck of the bog and get a nose full of odoriferous matter.

Furthermore, the partially decomposed organic debris often releases humic acids which can often tinge the water with a light brown color and create an aquatic community on the acid side of the PH scale.  It is not uncommon to have water samples from the bog with a PH of 6.5 to 6, depending upon the season of the year.

These harsh environmental conditions often limit the kind of plants and animals able to survive there.  Horsetail, the most common plant found in the bog, does very well in these acid conditions.  Just have the students look at the distribution of the horsetail.  The line of demarcation is very sharp.  In other words, the area covered with the horsetail will outline the bog environment.

In summary, life in the bog is restricted in the number of species, but the organisms present may be abundant.  Microscopic plants and animals can adapt to these conditions, but most other aquatic animals cannot.

Birds, on the other hand, can be rather common.