Islands of long-hidden treasures 2.1
Unique habitats for unique species
Peatlands are a particular type of habitat with a highly fluctuating environment. The organisms that inhabit them must cope with specific conditions such as excess water, lack of nutrients, low oxygen availability or lack of space. That requires several adaptations, such as unusual feeding strategies, appropriate timing of life cycles, proper microhabitat selection or small body size. The communities they form are unique in many ways and often contain a high proportion of rare, endangered, and protected species. These are often organisms that have survived in small numbers from the end of the last ice age, so-called (post)glacial relics. Peatlands are, therefore, important centers of biodiversity.
The species composition of the plant and moss cover of individual peat bogs is the result of natural conditions. The height of the groundwater level, the amount of precipitation, the amount and chemical composition of nutrients in the water, the age of the peat bogs and the possible history of human activity on and around them all play an important role in their formation.
In nature, we can encounter species-rich communities with several critically endangered and protected species tied to mineral-rich peat bogs in places where farmers have harvested hay for a long time. These biotopes are thus enriched with several species typical of meadows and pastures. Conversely, especially on the edges of the highlands, we can find communities consisting of a few species of Sphagnum and one or two species of Carex, with occasional interspersions of other plant species.