Peat bog plants & animals

The dominant plant group of peatland is moss, in particular the Sphagnaceae. The rare Baltic bog moss – Sphagnum balticum – is usually found on raised bogs but occurs on blanket bog above Loch Muick. Sphagnum moss is able to hold many times its own weight of water. Peat mosses act as unseen reservoirs slowly releasing the winter’s rainfall and snowmelt throughout the summer months. Acidification of the water is increased through a mechanism allowing the exchange of hydrogen ions for valuable nutrients.

These wet moss habitats support a variety of microscopic animals as well as larger species, including protozoa and tardigrades able to withstand the acid and fluctuating conditions. On the blanket bog, important breeding birds include golden plover, dunlin and snipe, and the large heath butterfly breeds on blanket bog as well as on wet heath.

Threats to fen and peat bog habitats and species in the Cairngorms National Park include:

  • agricultural drainage and reclamation;
  • drainage for afforestation;
  • overgrazing and muirburn;
  • natural succession to scrub and woodland.