Welcome to the Wetland Communities section of the Virtual Walk in the Forest Tour! Here we will explore how wetlands are a diverse type of ecosystem with many different communities. Search each example community to see what components of the ecosystem are clues that we are in a wetland environment. This community is a fen wetland.Marsh Wetland
What does the field journal tell you about this environment? From the field journal, we can see that the water table is medium to high (it will fluctuate between spring and fall) and is limiting the space available for root development of the plants in this environment. There are more nutrients here than in a wetland bog, but less than a rich forest soil. There are a few trees, but they are short. All of this helps us confirm that this is a boreal fen wetland.
Fen community species need saturated ground that is rich in nutrients. The mosses form high points and low points (called hummocks and hollows) that other species grow out of. Species shown: (1 & 3) Sphagnum mosses with Bog Rosemary (or *Andromeda polifolia*), (2) Marsh Cinquefoil (or *Potentilla palustris*), (4) Tamarack Larch (or *Larix laricina*). Can you find some of these species in this fen?
What organisms would you find in a wetland like this fen peatland? The Moose (*Alces Alces*) captured on these wildlife cams are a species that is often found in wetlands, foraging on aquatic and non-aquatic plants, as well as on young trees and shrubs. Photo Credits: Caroline FranklinBog 8k preview (1)-...
Fen wetland – with Dr. Bin Xu This is a boreal fen, a type of wetland ecosystem very common in the Northern regions of Alberta. The most common tree species you'll find in boreal fens is the tamarack, or larch, that you see everywhere in this video. Compared to the upland forest in the background, the canopy or tops of large trees in the fen is fairly open and sparse, so most boreal fens are considered open canopy systems. There are small woody shrubs called bog birch that are just turning yellow and red in this photo. Boreal fens often have a variety of herbaceous species, including sedges, grasses, and aquatic plants. If you look to the ground, you can see the carpet of small red, brown and yellowish green colored plants. This is a group of very tiny, early land plants that have adapted and thrived in these unique ecosystems. They're called mosses. You shouldn't underestimate these small plants because in these fens, they play a critical role in regulating water supply and the nutrients available to the bigger trees and shrubs. The growth of these mosses can capture a lot of the ecosystems carbon in the form of peat as they build up over time. These small mosses are the main contributor to the peat formation in these northern peatlands. When you look across the site, the only place you'll see the presence of water is near the base of this scene. This is telling us that although there is not as much water as in the marsh ecosystem, the water table within the fens system is still very close to the surface. The near surface water table limits oxygen availability in the rooting zone of vascular plants. A good trick to tell a wetland from an upland forest is by the height and number of woody tree species. In most wetland ecosystems, trees are fairly short and open due to the high water table and limited rooting space.