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For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Ecologist

Lake--Soft Bog

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


General natural community overview

Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for Lake--Soft Bog in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database.

Small lakes (<10Ac) with alkalinity of < 50 ppm and low pH.

The pH of this mineral-poor lake type is below neutral due to a lack of groundwater influence. Soft bog lakes typically have clear water and a firm substrate and support an oligotrophic submergent community sparsely populated by short aquatic macrophytes called isoetids. Dwarf water-milfoil (Myriophyllum tenellum), seven-angled pipe-wort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), and submersed brown-fruited rush (Juncus pelocarpus) are examples of the plant group commonly found in high-quality soft bog lakes. Bladderworts (Utricularia spp.) may be associated with shallow mineral pockets. Floating lilies (Nymphaea odorata and Nuphar variegata) can usually be found along lake margins, which transition to a narrow sphagnum lawn and fringe of sedges. This, in turn, often transitions to an open bog dominated by leather-leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), Labrador-tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum), black spruce (Picea mariana), and tamarack (Larix laricina). Because soft bog lakes are nutrient poor, they are particularly vulnerable to eutrophication. High nutrient levels can lead to dense beds of duckweeds (Lemna spp.) and water-meals (Wolfia spp.) as well as larger aquatic macrophytes like coon-tail (Ceratophyllum demersum) and common waterweed (Elodea canadensis), which can displace the smaller isoetids. Associated fish species include central mudminnow and yellow perch.

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 Lake--Soft Bog 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.

Blanchard's Cricket FrogAcris blanchardi3
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis3
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris2

A Minute Moss BeetleOchthebius lineatus2

Black TernChlidonias niger2
Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangula1
Common TernSterna hirundo1
Forster's TernSterna forsteri1
Red-necked GrebePodiceps grisegena1

A Giant Casemaker CaddisflyBanksiola dossuaria2
A Phryganeid CaddisflyBeothukus complicatus2

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Lake EmeraldSomatochlora cingulata3
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydra3
Pronghorn ClubtailGomphus graslinellus3
Spatterdock DarnerRhionaeschna mutata3
Sphagnum SpriteNehalennia gracilis3
Subarctic DarnerAeshna subarctica3
Unicorn ClubtailArigomphus villosipes3
Double-striped BluetEnallagma basidens2
Painted SkimmerLibellula semifasciata2
Slaty SkimmerLibellula incesta2
Spangled SkimmerLibellula cyanea2
Lilypad ForktailIschnura kellicotti1

Redfin ShinerLythrurus umbratilis1

Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus3
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Tricolored BatPerimyotis subflavus1
Water ShrewSorex palustris1

Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii3
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritus3
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta2
Western RibbonsnakeThamnophis proximus1

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
Eleocharis robbinsii Robbins' Spike-rush 2
Potamogeton bicupulatus Snail-seed Pondweed 2
Potamogeton confervoides Algae-leaved Pondweed 3
Potamogeton diversifolius Water-thread Pondweed 1
Potamogeton oakesianus Oakes' Pondweed 1
Potamogeton pulcher Spotted Pondweed 2


The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for Lake--Soft Bog, 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.


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


Lake--Soft Bog Photos

Lake--Soft Bog Photo

Extensive acid conifer swamp heavily dominated by black spruce surrounds this remote undeveloped bog lake on or near the Flambeau River SF.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Lake--Soft Bog Photo

Tula Lake SNA with poor fen and black spruce swamp.

Photo by Amy Staffen.

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, August 30, 2022