MVJ Telč / ENG

Landscape on a swing

Vegetation and flora of peat bogs in the Telč region

The current composition of the vegetation of the peatland biotopes in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands reflects a long-term development which began before the end of the last ice age, i.e., approximately 15 thousand years ago. In the formerly treeless landscape, covered only with scattered shrubs and small trees, wetland vegetation developed in the wetter areas, i.e., in depressions and around pools along smaller watercourses, with a number of species that nowadays grow almost only in the boreal regions of Eurasia. After the warming and increase in humidity after the end of the glacial period, woody plants gradually spread across the landscape. Only the driest places, such as cliff tops, and the wettest places, such as pools and surroundings of the largest springs, were not wholly colonized. Here, species that could not tolerate permanent shade could be sustained, both from woody plants and herbs and grasses capable of fully utilizing more nutrients for their growth and thus shading out the smaller ones. We assume that the so-called late glacial (or postglacial) relics, as the species surviving to the present day from the end of the last ice age are called, survived the period of maximum forestation in our area only in limited populations in the few places where the continuity of peat production persisted throughout the postglacial period.

With the arrival of humans and the deforestation of the landscape, these species were then able to colonize the newly created habitat – areas in wetter places (which became even wetter after deforestation), extensively used for grazing and mowing. Together with species of wetland alder, grassland, vernal pools, and trampled areas, they gave rise to today’s wet and peaty grassland communities.

Among the rarest peatland species of the Jihlava Hills, which can be called relic, we can mention the sedge Carex chordorrhiza, currently growing only in the nature reserve Rašeliniště Kaliště and the national nature reserve Dářko in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, the sedge Carex dioica, which can be found in the Žďárské Hills, in the nature reserve V Lisovech and the nature reserve U potoků, the sedge C. lasiocarpa in several localities, or the relatively-easy to recognize sedge Carex limosa growing in the nature reserve V Lisovech, nature reserve Rašiniště Kaliště and nature reserves Doupský and Bažantka.

Only in 2009, Sparganium natans, a small plant of shallow peaty pools and ponds, which was previously known from the peaty outlet of the Olešský pond, from Horní Dubenky and Vanůvek was discovered at the edge of the Kaliště Nature Reserve. However, it does not grow anywhere in this location anymore.

At present, a scarce species of mineral-rich peat bogs, Eriophorum latifolium, grows in the nature reserve V Lisovech. Its more common relative, Eriophorum angustifolium, however, thrives in most peat meadows and peat bogs of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. On the other hand, Eriophorum vaginatum, a species typical of highlands and peat forests, grows only in the national natural reserve Zhejral, in the Krčil Nature Reserve and near Horní Dubenice. In the best-preserved places of peat bogs with average mineral richness, Trichophorum alpinum can be found on occasion; its recent occurrence is, however, only a fragment of its distribution 70 or more years ago.

An almost iconic plant of our peat bogs is the small carnivorous Drosera rotundifolia, which was much more common in the past, but can still be found on the better-preserved peat bogs. One of the most declining species of wetland and peat bog communities is Pedicularis palustris, a conspicuous semi-parasitic plant sometimes up to almost 1 m tall in its blooming period. Unfortunately, it now grows in the region only in the nature reserve V Lisovech and in the peat meadow near Strachoňovice. At the time of blooming, in the second half of summer, the white flowers of Parnassia palustris are striking, but it grows only in the best-preserved localities.

One of the heathery shrubs typical of mountain uplands and transitional bogs is Vaccinium uliginosum. It grows only in three localities in the region, two near Horní Dubenice and one in the Krčil nature reserve.

Vaccinium oxycoccus, conspicuous in autumn with its large red berries, is another typical species of peat bogs, where it can be found chiefly on elevated bulges.
In the Jihlava Hills, it can also be found only in the best-preserved localities, which are declared protected areas, e.g., in the national nature reserve Zhejral or the nature reserve V Lisovech.

The composition of the moss floor is also very rich and specific. In addition to several representatives of the genus Sphagnum or Polytrichum, which are characteristic for their large bullae, or species more common on peat bogs, such as Aulacomnium palustre or Calliergonella cuspidata, we can also find other scarce species. For example, Meesia triquetra can be found in the Czech Republic only in 5 localities, 4 of which are in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and one of which is the nature reserve Rašeliniště Kaliště. The critically endangered Paludella squarrosa, known from 4 other sites in the Telč region, currently grows in 18 places in the Czech Republic. Hamatocaulis vernicosus is a species protected under the European Habitats Directive and is now reported from three sites in the Telč region.

Fauna of peat bogs in the Telč region

Peatland inhabitants have to cope with unique, often extreme conditions. The small body size is a considerable advantage, so it is not surprising that invertebrates have adapted best. Examples of tyrphophilous, or peat-loving, species are the butterflies Neofaculta infernella, Hypenodes humidalis or Lithomoia solidaginis, whose presence has been detected in the Zhejral national nature reserve. Two species of beetles preferring preserved peatland habitats were recorded in the nature reserve Ještěnice – Ilybius crassus and Crenitis punctatostriata. In the territory of the nature reserve V Lisovech, a rare and bioindicatively important peatland beetle, Donacia obscura, was found, which is associated with the sedge Carex rostrata.

The most important glacial relics include tiny lung snails – the European-protected Vertigo geyeri, inhabiting the nature reserve V Lisovech, and Vertigo lilljeborgi, found in the nature reserves Doupský and Bažantka and the national nature reserve Zhejral. Another remarkable remnant of the last ice age, the ant Formica picea, nesting in moss and sedge bulges, survives in the same localities as both previously mentioned species, and in several other bogs. In the national reserve V Lisovech, the contemporary presence of the scarce butterfly Boloria aquilonaris, foraging on the plant Vaccinium oxycoccos, has also been recorded.

We can also find examples of vertebrates on the peat bogs. Among amphibians, we can see the moor frog (Rana arvalis) or the pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae); among reptiles, the viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara) and, more rarely, the common European viper (Vipera berus). Typical inhabitants of non-forest peat bogs are birds such as the Saxicola rubetra, Anthus pratensis or Lanius excubitor. One of our birds most decreasing in numbers, Gallinago gallinago, nests on peat and wet meadows. The Bohemian-Moravian Highlands is currently an important breeding area for this species of bird. In the Telč region, it can be found, for example, in the nature reserve Rašeliniště Kaliště, the nature reserve V Lisovech, the nature reserves Doupský and Bažantka and in the national nature reserve Zhejral. Among mammals, the Eurasian pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus), the short-tailed field vole (Microtus agrestis) and the Eurasian harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) can be found in various types of wetlands.