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Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Assistant Ecologist


State Rank: S4     Global Rank: G4G5   what are these ranks?


Natural Heritage Inventory description 1

Muskegs are cold, acidic, sparsely wooded northern peatlands with composition similar to the Open Bogs (Sphagnum spp. mosses, Carex spp., and ericaceous shrubs), but with scattered stunted trees of black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina). Plant diversity is typically low, but the community is important for a number of boreal bird and butterfly species, some of which are quite specialized and not found in other communities.

1. Please see the printable version [PDF] of the NHI Natural Community descriptions.

Suggested citation: Epstein, E.J., E.J. Judziewicz, and E.A. Spencer. 2002. Wisconsin Natural Community Abstracts. Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources, Madison, WI.

Rare plants

Rare plants associated with Muskeg

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
Pyrola minor Lesser Wintergreen 1


Muskeg Photos

Muskeg  [Photo #959]

Black River State Forest, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #1454]

Black spruce dominated muskeg with well developed hummocks and heath layer. Flambeau River State Forest.

Photo by Andrew Galvin.

Muskeg  [Photo #1687]

Vegetation sampling plot with Joan Elias, Jim Meeker, and Eric Epstein. Muskeg in Bad River Reservation, Ashland County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Muskeg  [Photo #1770]

Muskeg, Iron County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #1771]

Muskeg/acid bog, Washburn County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #1772]

Michael Van Stappen on north side of Black Lake, in muskeg. Black Lake Bog State Natural Area, Douglas County.

Photo by Emmet Judziewicz.

Muskeg  [Photo #2090]

Muskeg/forested bog.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #2091]

Muskeg/open bog.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #2142]

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #2143]

Open Bog and Muskeg, Powell Marsh, Iron County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #2160]

Muskeg and Open Bog at Port Wing State Natural Area, Bayfield County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Muskeg  [Photo #2813]

A muskeg within the Swanson Lake Intensive Peatlands site.

Photo by Christina Isenring.

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, July 27, 2015