Plant Ecology

, Volume 216, Issue 7, pp 999–1018 | Cite as

The lagg ecotone: an integrative part of bog ecosystems in North America

  • Étienne ParadisEmail author
  • Line Rochefort
  • Mélanie Langlois


Ecological gradients have always been a central theme of plant ecology. Yet, very little is known on the bog–lagg–mineral land gradient. Improved knowledge of this gradient is important to the understanding of wetland plant ecology and wetland delineation alike. In this study, the relation between vegetation composition and peat thickness is analysed in 20 raised bogs of eastern Canada using split moving window dissimilarity analysis. Four different transition types are identified: (1) an abrupt transition without an ecotonal community; (2) a narrow transition with a lagg-swamp ecotonal community (most common transition type); (3) a narrow transition with two ecotonal communities (a lagg-fen and a lagg-swamp); and (4) a broad transition with a large wetland adjacent to the bog. Laggs that could be defined as separate habitat (type 1) occured, on average, on peat soil over 30 cm thick (defined as > 30 % dry mass of organic matter), making the lagg an integral part of the peatland complex. Other unique features of the lagg are: (1) a very densely structured habitat where trees, shrubs, herbs and Sphagnum mosses are abundant; (2) soils characterised by relatively high contents of total nitrogen and total phosphorus, but a particularly low N:P ratio (8.7 ± 2.5); and (3) a relatively high water table, which fluctuates substantially (from −33 to +10 cm in site A; from −12 to +10 in site B).


Transition Zonation Delineation Peatland Swamp 



Financial support for this research was provided by the NSERC, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy of NB, and the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association and its members. Personal grants to Étienne Paradis were provided by the FQRNT and EDS Institute. We are grateful to Phan Cat Tuong Le, Catherine Emond, Marie-Ève Gauthier, Maud Gauthier, Virginie Laberge, Flor de María Salvador Pérez and Torben Russo for assistance in the field. We thank members of PERG-UL and Olivia Bragg for comments on this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Étienne Paradis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Line Rochefort
    • 1
  • Mélanie Langlois
    • 2
  1. 1.Département de phytologie, Centre d’études nordiquesUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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