Invalid Unit Specified
Formation Detail Report: F016
Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen Formation

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen includes temperate bogs and fens dominated by Sphagnum or brown mosses with ericaceous shrubs, graminoids, and low scrub tree growth forms, across the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere from 23° to 70°N, but is much less common in the southern mid-latitudes.
Collapse All::Expand All
Translated Name:Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen Formation
Colloquial Name:Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen
Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen includes temperate and boreal bogs and fens dominated by Sphagnum or brown mosses with ericaceous shrubs, graminoids, and low scrub tree growth forms (<5 m). The driest bogs, especially in permafrost terrain, may be covered in dwarf-shrubs and lichens. The bog surface, which is raised or level with the surrounding terrain, is virtually unaffected by runoff waters or groundwaters from the surrounding mineral soils. Precipitation, fog and snowmelt are the primary water sources and, thus, all bogs are ombrogenous.

A temperate and boreal fen is a peatland with a fluctuating water table. The waters in fens are rich in dissolved minerals and, therefore, are minerotrophic. Groundwater and surface water movement is a common characteristic of fens. Surface flow may be directed through channels, pools, and other open waterbodies that can form characteristic surface patterns. The dominant materials are moderately decomposed sedge and brown moss peats of variable thickness. The vegetation on fens is closely related to the depth of the water table and the chemistry of the water present. The composition of vegetation may also reflect regional geographic variations. In general, graminoid vegetation and some bryophytes dominate wetter fens where the water table is above the surface. Shrubs are prominent in drier fens where the water table is lower. Trees appear on the driest fen sites where microtopographic features such as moss hummocks provide habitats as much as 20 cm above the water table.
This peatland type is dominated by Sphagnum spp. or brown mosses, with ericaceous shrubs, graminoids, and low scrub tree growth forms (<5 m). The driest bogs, especially in permafrost terrain, may be covered in dwarf-shrubs and lichens. Bogs contain raised or level sphagnum peat surfaces that are ombrotrophic or weakly minerotrophic, whereas fens are groundwater-driven, and moderately to strongly minerotrophic.
Vegetation Hierarchy
Name:Database Code:Classification Code:
Class 2 Shrub & Herb Vegetation C02 2
Subclass 2.C Shrub & Herb Wetland S44 2.C
Formation 2.C.2 Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen F016 2.C.2
Division 2.C.2.Na North American Bog & Fen D029 2.C.2.Na
Division 2.C.2.Nb Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Pocosin D324 2.C.2.Nb
Subarctic and arctic (polar) bogs and fens belong in this formation.
Synonomy: > Bog Wetland Class (National Wetlands Working Group 1997) [The class may include perhaps poor fens, but is otherwise synonymous with this formation.]
> Fen Wetland Class (National Wetlands Working Group 1997) [The class is synonymous with the fen part of this formation. Trees are typically <10% cover.]
> Peatlands (Mitsch and Gosselink 2000) [Bogs and fens are treated together, but tropical and temperate bogs are not separated. Forested bogs are included.]
> Peatlands (Roth 2009) [Bogs and fens are treated together, but tropical and temperate bogs are not separated. Forested bogs are included.]

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Brady and Weil 2002
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2015c
  • Mitsch and Gosselink 2000
  • National Wetlands Working Group 1997
  • Roth 2009
States/Provinces:
Nations:CA, US
Range:This formation is found across the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere from 23° to 70°N, but is much less common in the southern mid-latitudes.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name:
Province Code:   Occurrence Status:
Section Name:
Section Code:     Occurrence Status:
This peatland type is dominated by Sphagnum spp. or brown mosses, with ericaceous shrubs, graminoids, and low scrub tree growth forms (<5 m). The driest bogs, especially in permafrost terrain, may be covered in dwarf-shrubs and lichens. The vegetation on fens is closely related to the depth of the water table and the chemistry of the water present. The composition of vegetation may also reflect regional geographic variations. In general, graminoid vegetation and some bryophytes dominate wetter fens where the water table is above the surface. Shrubs are prominent in drier fens where the water table is lower. Trees appear on the driest fen sites where microtopographic features such as moss hummocks provide habitats as much as 20 cm above the water table. Sites in fens with waters extremely low in dissolved minerals are poor fens and have Sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs. Poor fens are sometimes placed with bogs as "acid peatlands." Fens with slightly higher concentrations of dissolved minerals are moderately rich fens and are dominated by sedges and brown mosses (such as Drepanocladus sp.). The moderate to extremely rich fens are sometimes collectively called "alkaline peatlands" or "rich peatlands" (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).
The bog surface, which is raised or level with the surrounding terrain, is virtually unaffected by runoff waters or groundwater from the surrounding mineral soils. Generally the water table is at or slightly below the bog surface. As the bog surface is raised, so is the bog water table relative to the elevation of the water table at the edges of the bog. Precipitation, fog, and snowmelt are the primary water sources and, thus, all bogs are ombrogenous. Given that precipitation does not contain dissolved minerals and is mildly acidic, the surface bog waters are consequently low in dissolved minerals and acidic. Bog water acidity, usually between pH 4.0 and 4.8 (Gorham and Janssens 1992), is enhanced due to the organic acids that form during decomposition of the peat and the acids present within Sphagnum leaves (National Wetlands Working Group 1997). The soils are mainly Histosols in the U.S. soil classification, and Fibrisols, Mesisols and Organic Cryosols (permafrost soils) in the Canadian soil classification system (National Wetlands Working Group 1997) [see Brady and Weil (2002) for comparison of Canadian soil orders with U.S. and FAO systems].

Fens are peatlands with a fluctuating water table. The waters in fens are rich in dissolved minerals and, therefore, are minerotrophic. Groundwater and surface water movement is a common characteristic of fens. Surface flow may be directed through channels, pools, and other open waterbodies that can form characteristic surface patterns. The dominant materials are moderately decomposed sedge and brown moss peats of variable thickness.
High
Many bogs started out as fens and may even have aquatic peat in the deepest layers. Only in transition from fen to bog will there be mixed "bog" peat with Sphagnum and ericaceous shrubs and "fen" peat with the remains of more minerotrophic plants such as brown mosses, sedges and shrubs (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).
Authors:
D. Faber-Langendoen, after National Wetlands Working Group (1997)      Version Date: 03Aug2016


References:
  • Brady, N. C., and R. R. Weil. 2002. The nature and properties of soils. Thirteenth edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, and E. Helmer. 2015c. Classification and description of world formation types. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-000. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO.
  • Mitsch, W. J., and J. G. Gosselink. 2000. Wetlands. Third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. 920 pp.
  • National Wetlands Working Group. 1997. Wetlands of Canada. C. D. A. Rubec, editor. Ecological Land Classification Series No. 24. Environment Canada, Ottawa, and Polyscience Publications, Inc., Montreal. 452 pp.
  • Roth, R. A. 2009. Freshwater aquatic biomes. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.


USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Formation level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Disclaimer:
Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the USNVC.org website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. [http://www.fgdc.gov/standards/projects/FGDC-standards-projects/vegetation/NVCS_V2_FINAL_2008-02.pdf]

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (amckerrow@usgs.gov)
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber- langendoen@natureserve.org)
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions Scott.Franklin@unco.edu
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (mburke@fs.fed.us)