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Scientific Name: North-Central Interior and Appalachian Acidic Peatland
Unique Identifier: CES202.606
Image 21929
© New York Natural Heritage Program
Summary: These Sphagnum and shrub peatlands occur in basins south of the Laurentian-Acadian region down to near the glacial boundary in the northeastern and north-central U.S. Unlike the true raised bogs of boreal regions, the vegetation is not raised above the groundwater level. They are found in colder regions, mostly in areas where glacial stagnation left coarse deposits and glacial depressions (many are "kettleholes"). The basins are generally closed, i.e., without inlets or outlets of surface water, and typically small in area. The nutrient-poor substrate and the reduced throughflow of water create oligotrophic conditions fostering the development of Sphagnum peat and the growth of peatland vegetation. In deeper basins, the vascular vegetation grows on a Sphagnum mat over water, with no mineral soil development. Ericaceous shrubs and dwarf-shrubs (e.g., Chamaedaphne calyculata) dominate, with patches of graminoid dominance. Some peatlands may have a sparse tree layer. Although these are often called bogs, in most cases they are technically fens (albeit nutrient-poor ones), as the vegetation remains in contact with the surface water.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system occurs south of the Laurentian-Acadian division in the Midwest, south of the Northern Appalachian-Boreal ecoregion in the Northeast, and inland from the Coastal Plain, and these acidic peatlands are distinctive and discrete elements of the landscape. They are related to Northern Appalachian-Acadian Conifer-Hardwood Acidic Swamp (CES201.574) and Eastern Boreal-Sub-boreal Acidic Basin Fen (CES201.583), but occur in a different landscape setting and often have some more temperate floristic elements to distinguish them. They include treed, shrub, and graminoid associations, often occurring in a mosaic. In the Midwest, it may be necessary to split off the shrub/graminoid acid peatland (poor fen) types.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES103.581 Eastern Boreal-Sub-boreal Bog
CES103.724 Eastern Boreal-Sub-boreal Conifer Acidic Swamp and Treed Poor Fen
CES201.574 Northern Appalachian-Acadian Conifer-Hardwood Acidic Swamp
CES201.583 Eastern Boreal-Sub-boreal Acidic Basin Fen
CES203.893 Atlantic Coastal Plain Northern Bog

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002472 Larix laricina / Aronia melanocarpa / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Forest
CEGL005085 Vaccinium corymbosum - Gaylussacia baccata - Aronia melanocarpa / Calla palustris Acidic Peatland
CEGL005092 Chamaedaphne calyculata / Carex oligosperma - Eriophorum virginicum Acidic Peatland
CEGL005256 Carex oligosperma - Carex pauciflora - Eriophorum vaginatum / Sphagnum spp. Acidic Peatland
CEGL005279 Carex lasiocarpa - Carex oligosperma - (Lysimachia terrestris) / Sphagnum spp. Acidic Peatland
CEGL006008 Chamaedaphne calyculata - (Gaylussacia dumosa) - Decodon verticillatus / Woodwardia virginica Acidic Peatland
CEGL006022 Pinus rigida / Vaccinium myrtilloides / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland
CEGL006077 Dulichium arundinaceum - Triadenum virginicum / Sphagnum fallax Fen
CEGL006098 Picea mariana / (Vaccinium corymbosum, Gaylussacia baccata) / Sphagnum sp. Swamp Woodland
CEGL006131 Dulichium arundinaceum / Sphagnum spp. Fen
CEGL006135 Sphagnum rubellum - Vaccinium oxycoccos Fen
CEGL006190 Vaccinium corymbosum / Sphagnum spp. Acidic Peatland
CEGL006194 Pinus rigida / Chamaedaphne calyculata / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland
CEGL006302 Myrica gale - Chamaedaphne calyculata / Carex (lasiocarpa, utriculata) - Utricularia spp. Fen
CEGL006394 Sphagnum (cuspidatum, torreyanum) - Vaccinium macrocarpon Fen
CEGL006395 Acer rubrum / Alnus incana - Ilex verticillata / Osmunda regalis Woodland
CEGL006513 Chamaedaphne calyculata / Eriophorum virginicum / Sphagnum rubellum Acidic Peatland
CEGL006587 Pinus rigida - Picea rubens / Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland


Land Cover Class: Woody Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Small patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: No
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: Partially Isolated

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Organic Peat (>40 cm)  
Acidic Water  
>180-day hydroperiod  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Isolated Wetland Partially Isolated
Oligotrophic Water  
Long (>500 yrs) Persistence  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Platanthera leucophaea
  (Eastern Prairie White-fringed Orchid)
G2G3 LT: Listed threatened

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Larix laricina G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Picea mariana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Vaccinium macrocarpon G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Vaccinium oxycoccos G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Decodon verticillatus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Chamaedaphne calyculata G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Platanthera leucophaea G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
Woodwardia virginica G5 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
Eriophorum virginicum G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Ambystoma maculatum
  (Spotted Salamander)
Condylura cristata
  (Star-nosed Mole)
Myodes gapperi
  (Southern Red-backed Vole)
Synaptomys cooperi
  (Southern Bog Lemming)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CT, IL, IN, MA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WI
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: ON
Global Range: This system is found from central New England to the Great Lakes and south-central Minnesota southward, generally associated with the glacial terminus or stagnation zones, and interior from the Coastal Plain.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
202-Central Interior and Appalachian C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
45 North Central Tillplain Predicted or probable
46 Prairie-Forest Border Predicted or probable
48 Great Lakes Predicted or probable
49 Western Allegheny Plateau Predicted or probable
60 High Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
61 Lower New England / Northern Piedmont Confident or certain
64 St. Lawrence-Champlain Valley Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
41 Northern Lake Country Possible
49 Central Till Plains Predicted or probable
50 Central Great Lakes Uplands Predicted or probable
51 Great Lakes Plains Predicted or probable
52 Eastern Till Plains Predicted or probable
60 Chesapeake Bay Never was there
61 Northern Appalachia Confident or certain
62 Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
63 Finger Lakes Confident or certain
64 Northeastern Highlands Confident or certain
65 Connecticut River Basin and Highlands Confident or certain
66 The North Woods Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9193

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Element Description Edition Date: 02Jan2015
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler, J. Drake and M. Pyne

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Damman, A. W. H., and T. W. French. 1987. The ecology of peat bogs of the glaciated northeastern United States: A community profile. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service Biological Report 85(7.16). 100 pp.

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Faber-Langendoen, D., C. Hedge, M. Kost, S. Thomas, L. Smart, R. Smyth, J. Drake, and S. Menard. 2011. Assessment of wetland ecosystem condition across landscape regions: A multi-metric approach. NatureServe, Arlington VA. plus appendices.

  • Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

  • Kost, M. A., D. A. Albert, J. G. Cohen, B. S. Slaughter, R. K. Schillo, C. R. Weber, and K. A. Chapman. 2007. Natural communities of Michigan: Classification and description. Report No. 2007-21, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing. 314 pp. []

  • ONHD [Ohio Natural Heritage Database]. No date. Vegetation classification of Ohio and unpublished data. Ohio Natural Heritage Database, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus.

  • Sperduto, D. D., and W. F. Nichols. 2004. Natural communities of New Hampshire: A guide and classification. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord. 242 pp.

  • Swinehart, A. L. 1997. The development and ecology of peatlands in Indiana. Ph.D. thesis, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. 303 pp.

  • Swinehart, A. L., and G. D. Starks. 1994. A record of the natural history and senescence of an Indiana tamarack bog. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 103(3-4):225-239.

  • WDNR [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources]. 2015. The ecological landscapes of Wisconsin: An assessment of ecological resources and a guide to planning sustainable management. PUB-SS-1131 2015. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison. []

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Data last updated: March 2019