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Blanket Bog Restoration in Ireland  
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The Flora and Fauna of Irish bogs
  Blanket bogs support a range of plant and animal species which are well-adapted to life in harsh, wet and nutrient-poor conditions. This section describes and illustrates a number of these special species.
  F l o r a Fauna  
Black bog rush
(Schoenus nigricans)
Black bog rush (Schoenus nigricans)
Black bog rush is a common species of lowland blanket bogs in the west of Ireland. It is easily recognized by the conspicuous black tufts at the end of the stems.

Although the species is found in the nutrient-poor lowland blanket bogs of Ireland it is largely confined to mineral-rich fens in the rest of Europe.

The reasons for this are not clear however it is thought that the deposition of minerals from the sea during onshore gales along the west coast of Ireland may be a factor.
(Eriophorum spp.)
Bog-cottons (Eriophorum spp.)
In early summer the sight of bog-cotton blowing in the breeze is one of the most attractive sights on the bog.

The cotton itself is attached to a seed and is a dispersal mechanism which ensures the spread of the species. The most common species of bog cotton is the many-flowered bog cotton (Eriophorum angustifolium) which is especially conspicuous in areas which have been recently cut for peat.

Three other species also occur in Ireland namely hare's tail bog-cotton (Eriophorum vaginatum), broad-leaved bog-cotton (Eriophorum latifolium) and the legally protected slender bog-cotton (Eriophorum gracile).
Cross-leaved heath
(Erica tetralix)
Cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix)
This attractive, pink-flowered, heather is confined to the wetter areas of blanket bogs. The species gets its name from the arrangement of leaves in whorls of four on the stems of the plant.

Cross-leaved heath is common on both blanket and raised bogs.
(Eriocaulon aquaticum)
Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)
This distinctive species, which is often described as looking not unlike knitting needles, grows along the stony/peaty margins of lakes in lowland blanket bog areas. Although the species is common in North American lakes in Europe pipewort is confined to blanket bog lakes along the west coast of Ireland and a couple of lakes in western Scotland.
(Drosera spp.)
Sundews ( Drosera spp.)
The sundew is the most common insectivorous plant of the blanket bogs. It traps unwary insects on sticky pads on its leaves and then produces an enzyme which breaks down the insect into a form which can be readily absorbed by the plant. This is just one adaptation which bog plants have developed in response to the nutrient-poor conditions of the bog. There are three species of sundew in Ireland the round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia ), the oblong-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia ) and the long-leaved sundew (Drosera anglica). The most common of these is the round-leaved sundew which can grow in relatively dry areas of bog.
Sphagnum moss
(Sphagnum spp.)
Sphagnum moss (Sphagnum spp.)
Sphagnum moss is one of the most important plant species of the bog. Sphagnum moss has great powers of absorption, being able to hold many times its weight in water. It is this sponge-like property of the species which contributes to the wetness of bogs. Because of these considerable powers of absorption Sphagnum moss was extensively gathered in Ireland during World War 1 for use as a wound-dressing. In addition to contributing to the wetness of a bog the species also actively acidifies the water by holding onto any plant nutrients and replacing them with hydrogen ions which further slows the rate of decomposition. There are around 24 species of Sphagnum moss in Ireland and some, such as Sphagnum pulchrum, are relatively rare.
Bog spider
(Dolomedes fimbriatus)
Bog spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus)
The bog spider is relatively frequent on blanket bogs where it is generally found close to bog pools. It is a large species which has distinctive yellow/white bands down its brown body. It waits along the margins of pools and feels for vibrations on the water surface. Once an insect lands on the surface it darts out and catches its prey.
Dragonflies are among the most spectacular of all the creatures of the bogland. They spend their early years as an aquatic nymph stage, feeding on a range of small aquatic animals in bog pools. These nymphs then develop into the spectacular adult dragonflies which live only for a couple of months. Dragonflies are especially common is areas of cutover blanket bog where there are larger areas of open water in which to complete their life cycle. At least 12 species of dragonfly are known to occur on Irish bogs.
(Lutra lutra)
Although otters have a widespread distribution in Ireland , the lakes and river associated with blanket bogs are one of their favoured habitats. They typically feed on fish which inhabit lakes and rivers and their droppings are often seen along water margins. Ireland is considered to contain one of the healthiest populations of otters in Europe and the species is protected by law.
Hen harrier
(Circus cyaneus)
The hen harrier is a large bird of prey which is mainly confined to upland blanket bog areas. The male birds are especially conspicuous due to their striking blue-grey plumage with black wing tips. They tend to occur in blanket bog areas where there is some coniferous forestry, especially if that forestry is young and developing. Over recent decades there have been great fluctuations in numbers of hen harriers due mainly to changes in habitat.
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