All photography provided by Erik Paterson.
FLORA OF PEATLANDS
The fauna and flora of Langlands Moss is fairly typical of such sites. The Sphagnum Mosses are a great example - there are several species of Sphagnum mosses at Langlands Moss. Each species occupying a slightly different ecological niche - from the early colonisers that grow in the open water channels to those that don’t like getting their feet too wet and only grow in the higher, drier hummocks of the bog.
The Sphagnum mosses are vital to the survival of the bog. They make the bog function. But other plants also grow on the bog, notably common heather, or ling. Because of the acidic conditions, in other words the acute lack of nutrients associated with peatland sites, the range of plants adapted to grow there is very limited. Nonetheless, careful search will soon reveal other plants growing amongst the heather.
Cross-leaved heath, bog cotton and bog asphodel are quite easily spotted amongst the heather during summer months. Less obvious are the creeping threads of cranberry, and in early summer its lovely little pink flowers, somewhat resembling miniature cyclamen. But the star of the show must be the insectivorous round-leaved sundew - a tiny little plant with red sticky leaves, designed for catching and digesting insects!
Other rarer plants include blueberry, crowberry and cloudberry. As far as we know there is only one place on the Moss where each of these grow. Cloudberry is really an arctic plant and is more common on the higher hills of Lanarkshire, and elsewhere. It rarely grows on lowland bogs.
FAUNA OF PEATLANDS
Winter months are not a good time to see anything of note but warmer summer months can be very productive. Meadow pipits breed quite commonly across the Moss, together with occasional skylarks. In recent years a pair of stonechats have bred occasionally. Buzzards are regularly observed too! Unfortunately they could be reducing the population of the smaller birds.
Mammals observed at the Moss include roe deer, red fox and brown hare. Otters frequent the area and have almost certainly visited the Moss on occasions. Amphibians and reptiles are represented by common lizard, newts and common frog.
Various insects are also present at Langlands, these include a range of butterflies, moths, pond skaters and dragonflies etc. More notable amongst these would be large heath butterfly, emperor moth and green emerald damselfly.
PEATLANDS AND TREES
Trees can absorb carbon quickly but there is a limit to the amount of carbon that a woodland can store. Peatlands form peat much more slowly but they can store carbon for thousands of years.
QUICK FACTS ON PEATLAND BIODIVERSITY
- Peat is a bit like porridge - 10% solid and 90% water.
- Sphagnum mosses can hold between 20-30 times their dry weight in water (average household sponge can hold only 7 times its dry weight).
- Lowland raised bogs provide a home for a great variety of butterflies and moths - the Large Heath butterfly is only found on peatlands, Green Hairstreak and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary can find homes on the edges of bogs.
- Emperor Wood Tiger, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Lunar Hornet, Silvery Arches, Grass Wave and Orange Underwing are only some of the spectacular and colourful moths found on lowland bogs.
- Lowland bogs can be great places to see spectacular wildlife, from dragonflies (Common Hawker and Black Darter) to carnivorous plants (Round-leaved Sundew).