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Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada

Wetland Habitats

Wetlands have a major influence on the water chemistry, level and colour of freshwater ecosystems, and provide habitat for many of the species at risk in the park, including the Blanding’s turtle, the Northern ribbonsnake, and Atlantic Coastal Plain flora.

Bogs

Boardwalk crossing bog © Parks Canada/P. Hope

Bogs are the most common type of wetland in Nova Scotia, and a significant habitat in the park. They grow in areas of poor drainage and fill up old lakes. To discover Kejimujik’s bogs, hike the Snake Lake Trail, paddle Jeremys Bay, Still Brook, or one of the other slow-moving waterways. Bogs take centuries to develop. They are saturated with water and are dominated by mats of spongy sphagnum moss. As the moss grows and dies, the plant material rots very slowly forming layers of dead moss called peat that can become several metres deep. The dark brown waters, so characteristic of Kejimkujik, are stained with tannic acids from this peat.

On the drier parts of bogs, waist-high shrubs grow including Leather-leaf, Sheep laurel, and Rhodora. These species can tolerate the acidic conditions. Even the most moisture-tolerant tree species, including Larch, Red maple, and Black spruce, survive mostly on raised hummocks and around the bog’s edge.

Pitcher-plant Pitcher-plant
© Parks Canada/R. Swain
Some plants have special adaptations to the nutrient-poor growing conditions. Pitcher-plants and Sundews trap and digest insects to supplement their diet. Orchids use specific soil fungi to get enough nutrients to produce their delicate flowers. The bogs that we often regard as soggy, prickly, and tangled obstacles are the preferred nesting areas for some birds, especially the Palm warbler, Swamp sparrow, and Common yellowthroat. From the purple blanket of Rhodora blossoms in the spring to the cranberries of fall, bogs are beautiful.

Floodplains

Flat wetland areas bordering rivers and other waterways are known as floodplains. In Nova Scotia, floodplains often appear as lush, grassy meadows in summer. In Kejimkujik, the trail crossing Rogers Brook offers one of the best views of a floodplain.

Floodplain at Rogers Brook Floodplain at Rogers Brook
© Parks Canada

Floodplain lands and adjacent waters form a complex and dynamic ecosystem. When river waters overflow due to seasonally heavy rains or spring runoff, these important riparian areas collect and retain the floodwaters. Not only do floodwaters carry plant material and silt laden with nutrients, wetting of the floodplain surface releases its own nutrients: those left over from the last flood, and those resulting from the rapid breakdown of organic matter that has accumulated since then. The combination of high nutrient-levels, high moisture and periodic physical disturbance creates unique, productive habitat for plants and wildlife, including rare species.

As the levels of a floodplain increase, moisture-tolerant trees and other forest vegetation such as maples and alders eventually gain a foothold. Plants found in Kejimkujiks’s floodplains include Blue flag iris, Poison ivy and Meadowsweet. Dragonflies, salamanders, turtles, owls, birds, bats, beavers and White-tailed deer are among the species that depend on the floodplains. The crowns of the trees also support rich insect and bird life. Warblers, vireos and flycatchers are some of the birds sighted in the forest floodplain.