2023 Awards Winners Spotlight: In Practice

Dr George Smith CEcol

Know Thy Sphagnum: Species-Specific Lessons for Understanding Bogs

Published September 2022

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This article challenged the idea and that Sphagnum species are difficult to identify and encouraged practitioners to avoid ‘lumping’ species together in ecological assessments by taking readers through basic field identification techniques for the main bog Sphagna. The author argued that, given the useful of Sphagnum spp in assessing conservation condition, hydrology and restoration potential of bogs, the reward is well worth the effort.

The author went on to describe species that are commonly found and easily identified but that also have good peatforming properties, therefore being key to bog restoration. Other species were
described that are indicators of high-quality raised bog or high water tables. Indicators of poor condition were also covered as some Sphagnum species respond favourably to the disturbance or drier conditions that are detrimental to bog restoration.

The judges felt that the article gave excellent encouragement to ecologists too daunted by the carpet of greenybrowny- red moss to have a go at identification, arguing that it really isn’t as difficult as it looks and identification of species can tell us so much more about the condition of the bog and the likely direction of travel for its future conservation status without intervention.

We will be posting further information on each of the 2023 Awards Winners over on our blog.