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Types of peatlands

There are two main types of peatlands: bogs and fens. They differ on the basis of their vegetation, hydrology and water chemistry.

Two main types of peatlands:

Bog (ombrotrophic peatland)

Bogs are characterized by a vegetation that shows the effect of a high water table and a general lack of nutrients. The surface of a bog is often raised in the form of a mound and because it is isolated from mineralized waters, the main source of nutrients comes from precipitation and wind.


  • Nutrient input is carried by precipitation (rain and snow) and wind
  • Acidic water of pH < 4.5
  • Dominant vegetation: Sphagnum mosses accompanied by ericaceous shrubs and trees (larch and black spruce).
Fen (minerotrophic peatland)

Fens are characterized by a high water table, but with a very slow internal drainage by seepage along very low gradient slopes. The surface of a fen is flat to very gently sloping and it receives water that has been in contact with upslope mineral terrain that is enriched with dissolved mineral nutrients.


  • Nutrient input from surrounding mineral terrain
  • Acidic to slightly alkaline water of pH ranging from 4.5 to 7.5
  • Dominant vegetation: brown mosses and herbaceous plants (sedges).