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Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
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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

Poor Fen

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

Definition

General natural community overview

This acidic, weakly minerotrophic peatland type is similar to the Open Bog, but can be differentiated by higher pH, nutrient availability, and floristics. Sphagnum mosses are common but don't typically occur in deep layers with pronounced hummocks. Floristic diversity is higher than in the Open Bog and may include white beak-rush (Rhynchospora alba), pitcher-plant (Sarracenia purpurea), sundews (Drosera spp.), pod grass (Scheuchzeria palustris), and the pink-flowered orchids (Calopogon tuberosus, Pogonia ophioglossoides and Arethusa bulbosa). Common sedges are (Carex oligosperma, C. limosa, C. lasiocarpa, C. chordorrhiza), and cotton-grasses (Eriophorum spp.).

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 Poor Fen natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = high association, 2 = moderate association, and 1 = low association. See the key to association scores for complete definitions.

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

Ants, wasps, and beesScore
Frigid Bumble BeeBombus frigidus2

BeetlesScore
Cantrall's Bog BeetleLiodessus cantralli2

BirdsScore
American BitternBotaurus lentiginosus3
Yellow RailCoturnicops noveboracensis3
American Black DuckAnas rubripes2
BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorus2
Nelson's SparrowAmmodramus nelsoni2
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
Arctic FritillaryBoloria chariclea2

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Forcipate EmeraldSomatochlora forcipata3
Subarctic DarnerAeshna subarctica3
Zigzag DarnerAeshna sitchensis3
Incurvate EmeraldSomatochlora incurvata2
Ringed BoghaunterWilliamsonia lintneri2
Sphagnum SpriteNehalennia gracilis2

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Bog ConeheadNeoconocephalus lyristes1
Delicate Meadow KatydidOrchelimum delicatum1
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna1

Leafhoppers and true bugsScore
A LeafhopperLimotettix elegans1
A LeafhopperLimotettix pseudosphagneticus1

MammalsScore
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus2
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus1
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus1
Water ShrewSorex palustris1
Woodland Jumping MouseNapaeozapus insignis1

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
Amerorchis rotundifolia Round-leaved Orchis 1
Carex exilis Coast Sedge 2
Carex michauxiana Michaux's Sedge 3
Drosera anglica English Sundew 3
Drosera linearis Linear-leaved Sundew 2
Eleocharis quinqueflora Few-flowered Spike-rush 1
Equisetum palustre Marsh Horsetail 3
Eriophorum russeolum ssp. leiocarpum Russet Cotton-grass 3
Juncus stygius Bog Rush 3
Pseudevernia consocians Common Antler Lichen 2
Rhynchospora fusca Brown Beak-rush 2
Salix sericea Silky Willow 1

Landscapes

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


Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.


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


Poor Fen Photos

Poor Fen Photo

Extensive wiregrass (Carex lasiocarpa) meadow that is inundated in years of higher Lake Michigan water levels. Pickerel Pond, The Ridges Sanctuary, Door County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Groundlayer of a poor fen. Menyanthes (bog bean) is the locally dominant herb w/ Sphagnum moss, sedges, stunted bog birch and tamarack seedlings. Bass Lake Wetlands, Flambeau River State Forest. Swayer County.

Photo by Andrew Galvin.

Poor Fen Photo

Edge of poor fen showing higher plant species diversity due to increased nutrient availability. A deep moat is present here. Bass Lake Wetlands, Flambeau River State Forest.

Photo by Andrew Galvin.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen bordering Miniwakan Lake within a large acid peatland complex . Langlade County Forest, Wisconsin.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen bordering Miniwakan Lake within a large acid peatland complex . Langlade County Forest, Wisconsin.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen, Langlade County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen, Langlade County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen, Langlade County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen, Langlade County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Poor Fen Photo

Drainage lake with northern sedge meadow and poor fen, Vilas County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen in kettle bog, Bayfield County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Coastal variant of a poor fen mat inbetween the slough and upland. Sedges dominate this portion of the fen, scattered stunted tamarack and ericaceous shrubs are also present.. Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area, Bayfield County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Some of Wisconsin's largest and least disturbed open peatland complexes occur in the Northern Highland Ecological Landscape. Mud Creek Springs, Vilas County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Groundlayer of a weakly mineotropic poor fen/open bog in Mud Creek Springs. Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Vilas County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Kentuck Lake Swale, poor fen. Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen near Deer Path Lake with an island of old growth hemlock in the background, Vilas County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Abundant Pogonia orchids (Pogonia ophioglossoides) in a small poor fen, Chippewa County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Pogonia orchids (Pogonia ophioglossoides) in a small poor fen, Chippewa County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Pond and boggy mat, Alvin Creek Headwaters, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

A poor fen located along a lake, just outside the Swanson Lake Intensive Peatlands site.

Photo by Christina Isenring.

Poor Fen Photo

A poor fen located along a lake, just outside the Swanson Lake Intensive Peatlands site.

Photo by Christina Isenring.

Poor Fen Photo

A poor fen located along a lake, just outside the Swanson Lake Intensive Peatlands site.

Photo by Christina Isenring.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen with Arethusa bulbosa, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen with Arethusa bulbosa, Forest County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor Fen with very wet Sphagnum cuspidatum lawns and small pockets of open water. Muskeg in background with abundant cotton-grass.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor Fen with very wet Sphagnum cuspidatum lawns and small pockets of open water. Muskeg in background with abundant cotton-grass.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor Fen dominated by Carex lasiocarpa with very wet Sphagnum lawns and small pockets of open water.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor Fen dominated by Carex lasiocarpa with very wet Sphagnum lawns and small pockets of open water.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor Fen dominated by Carex lasiocarpa with very wet Sphagnum cuspidatum lawns, small pockets of open water.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor Fen dominated by Carex lasiocarpa with very wet Sphagnum cuspidatum lawns, small pockets of open water.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Poor Fen Photo

Poor fen, sometimes also called a bog, occurs on saturated peat soils adjacent to lakes. Wild cranberries (Vaccinium spp.) grow on Sphagnum moss hummocks, interspersed with cotton-grass (Eriophorum spp.).

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

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: Tuesday, November 28, 2017