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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Assistant Ecologist
608-266-7714

Central Poor Fen

State Rank: S3     Global Rank: G3G4   what are these ranks?

Definition

General natural community overview

These open, acidic, low nutrient peatlands occur within the Central Sand Plains of Wisconsin. Central Poor Fens are floristically depauperate and generally sedge dominated (Carex oligosperma, C. lasiocarpa, and C. utriculata). Bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis) is a frequent associate and may co- dominate some stands. Sphagnum moss carpets are common but typically lack pronounced hummocks and hollows. Shrubs are present but not dominant, hard-hack (Spiraea tomentosa) is the most consistent in presence, and cover of ericads is generally low. Other characteristic associates include wool grass (Scirpus cyperinus), cotton-grasses (Eriophorum spp.), swamp-candles (Lysimachia terrestris) and Kalm's St. John's-wort (Hypericum kalmianum). This community often intergrades with Tamarack (poor) Swamp. Disturbance of this community through mossing may significantly alter community composition, as recolonization by at least some of the vascular plants is very slow. Many plants characteristic of poor fen communities farther north are rare or absent in these central sands peatlands.

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the Central Poor Fen natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = significantly associated, 2 = moderately associated, and 1 = minimally associated.

AmphibiansScore
Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum3
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis2
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris2

BeetlesScore
Cantrall's Bog BeetleLiodessus cantralli2

BirdsScore
American BitternBotaurus lentiginosus3
Yellow RailCoturnicops noveboracensis3
American Black DuckAnas rubripes2
BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorus2
Henslow's SparrowAmmodramus henslowii2
Le Conte's SparrowAmmodramus leconteii2
Olive-sided FlycatcherContopus cooperi2
Rusty BlackbirdEuphagus carolinus2
Whooping CraneGrus americana2
Black-backed WoodpeckerPicoides arcticus1
Sharp-tailed GrouseTympanuchus phasianellus1
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeus1

Butterflies and mothsScore
Midwestern Fen BuckmothHemileuca nevadensis ssp. 31
Swamp MetalmarkCalephelis muticum1

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Forcipate EmeraldSomatochlora forcipata3
Incurvate EmeraldSomatochlora incurvata3
Ringed BoghaunterWilliamsonia lintneri3
Subarctic DarnerAeshna subarctica3
Sphagnum SpriteNehalennia gracilis2
Zigzag DarnerAeshna sitchensis2

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Bog ConeheadNeoconocephalus lyristes1
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna1

Leafhoppers and true bugsScore
A LeafhopperLimotettix elegans1
A LeafhopperLimotettix pseudosphagneticus1

MammalsScore
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus2
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus2
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus2
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Water ShrewSorex palustris1

ReptilesScore
Eastern MassasaugaSistrurus catenatus3
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritus3
Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii1
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix1
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta1

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Score
Lycopodiella margueritae Northern Prostrate Clubmoss 3

Landscapes

The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for Central Poor Fen, based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.


Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological LandscapeOpportunity
Central Sand PlainsMajor
Central Sand HillsPresent

Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.

Threats/Actions

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities

Photos


Central Poor Fen Photos

Central Poor Fen Photo

Early growing season view of a central poor fen just beginning to green up. Carex urticulata is the dominant species, with scattered stunted jack pine frequently occuring in these fens. Komensky Peatlands, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Central poor fen with Hypericum kalmianum, and Carex urticulata. Mollies Creek, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Extensive central poor fen occupiying a low basin within an extensively forested landscape. Carex urticulata is the dominant species. Starlight Peatlands, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Large, hydrologically intact open peatland is dominated by sedges and sphagnum mosses. Black River State Forest, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Open wetland (central poor fen) north of Bear Bluff Road, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Central Poor Fen Photo

A vast boggy peatland fills part of the bed of extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin. Sphagnum mosses ad sedges are dominant in this view. Bear Bluff, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Central poor fen along the trail to Lone Rock. Carex utriculata is dominant. Quincy Bluff State Natural Area, Adams County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Eric Epstein and Elizabeth Spencer sampling a plot in a Central Poor Fen, Adams County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Eric Epstein and Elizabeth Spencer sampling a plot in a Central Poor Fen, Adams County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Central Poor Fen, Adams County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Central Poor Fen, Adams County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Central fen groundlayer exhibiting higher nutrient availability near the upland/wetland boundary. Carex utriculata is dominant, Spiraea tomentosa and poison sumac (add scientific name). Quincy Bluff And Wetlands State Natural Area.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Island of jack pine and shrubs within a central poor fen. The foreground shows a mucky opening in the herb layer, important habitat for certain rare invertebrates. Carex urticulata is dominant, Spiraea tomentosa, Glyceria canadensis, Dulictium sp and Scir.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Central Poor Fen Photo

Large, sedge-dominated open peatland (‘Central Poor Fen’), headwaters stream. Black River State Forest, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Monday, November 14, 2016