life in the wetland
Wetlands are intriguing places. They are often difficult to walk on, there are lots of stories about them (dead things are often very well preserved in bogs!) and the unique living requirements cause them to host a range of species that aren’t found anywhere else. The most obvious characteristic of wetlands is that they are saturated with water, leading to both restrictions and possibilities for plants and animals.
Plants and microbes are the main constituents of the unique ecosystem that wetlands are. But with plants come more or less specialized insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds, which, together with a range of other organisms, build up marshes, swamps, fens and all the other kinds of wetland. In many places, like Finland, most of the native wetlands have been drained and turned into forest or agricultural soil – this has driven many of the specialized wetland species close to extinction.
These photos are from two different bogs located in southern Finland. The species are often, or only, found in bogs, where they create a beautiful and really special landscape. I hope you enjoy the photos!
A crane fly caught by the carnivorous Great sundew (Drosera anglica). Sundews are generally quite poor competitors, but thanks to their ability to survive submersion for extended periods of time, and get nutrients from insects in an otherwise nutrient-poor environment, they thrive in bogs.
The Common frog (Rana temporaria), like many frogs, spends most of its life in wetlands.
The Hare’s-tail cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum) is a common sight in bogs.
The fungus Exobasidium karstenii makes the leaves of the Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) turn pink.
The Raft spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) is also a common sight in wetlands, where it runs on water and hunts insects, spiders and tadpoles. It’s a large spider (for Finland): the females can reach 70 mm in size (including legs). The males are considerably smaller.
The Common sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) awaiting prey. The sundews (there are 3 species in Finland) sometimes make whole bogs appear red – they’re truly beautiful plants.