Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Recent studies of this moss suggest that it might be what is called a 'colonist' species. This means it is amongst the first species to colonise a new site. However, it does not appear to be a competitive species, so when other mosses and higher plants move on to the site, Baltic bog moss disappears.
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Description

This rare moss can grow whilst completely or partly submerged in water. It resembles several other members of the sphagnum moss family and ranges from dull green to orange in colour. It can form large floating mats under the right conditions but, typically, occurs as scattered shoots amongst other bog mosses.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Expected to occur in the higher mountains of eastern North America; Finland (Crum et al. 1981). Wales, N. England and Scotland, showing a distinct eastern tendency, very rare; circumpolar, slightly continental (Smith 1978).

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Range

It has been recorded from seven different and widely scattered sites in the UK, and it seems it has disappeared from four of these. In England there are three recorded sites, in Cheshire (from where it has not been seen for over a century), Yorkshire (not seen in recent years) and Northumberland, which is the only current site in England. The only known Welsh site is in Ceredigion (Cardiganshire), and it has not been seen here since 1967. In Scotland, it is recorded in Aberdeenshire, Dumfriesshire and Abernethy Forest in Inverness-shire but, here too, it has disappeared from two sites. Outside of the UK, it has an extensive range across the lowlands of the northern hemisphere, although it is confined to the more northerly latitudes.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants small to moderate-sized, soft and ± weak-stemmed; brownish green, yellow-green, yellowish to golden brown, capitulum typically flat and 5-radiate. Stems pale green to brown, branch bases sometimes reddish; superficial cortex of 2-3 layers of moderately thin-walled and differentiated cells. Stem leaves 0.8-1.1 mm, triangular-lingulate to lingulate, concave, spreading, apex broadly obtuse, hyaline cells fibrillose in apical region. Branches slender and tapering, often 5-ranked and decurved, leaves somewhat elongated at distal end. Branch fascicles with 2 spreading and mostly 1 pendent branch. Branch stem green, cortex enlarged with conspicuous retort cells. Branch leaves ovate-lanceolate, 1-1.7 mm, straight, slightly undulate and spreading; margin entire, hyaline cells on convex surface with 1-5 pores in cell ends and free near apex, on concave surface with round wall thinnings in cell ends and angles; chlorophyllous cells triangular in transverse section and well-enclosed on concave surface. Sexual condition dioicous. Spores 25-33 µm; smooth to finely papillose on both surfaces; proximal laesura approximately 0.5 spore radius.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Sphagnum recurvum subsp. balticum Russow, Sitzungber. Naturf.-Ges. Univ. Dorpat 9: 99. 1890
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Found in ditches and depressions in ombrotrophic bogs (Smith 1978).

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Baltic bog moss, as its name suggests, is found in raised bogs holding water containing few nutrients. Occasionally, it is also found in blanket bogs.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Expected to occur in the higher mountains of eastern North America; Finland (Crum et al. 1981). Wales, N. England and Scotland, showing a distinct eastern tendency, very rare; circumpolar, slightly continental (Smith 1978). Found in ditches and depressions in ombrotrophic bogs (Smith 1978).

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Status

Classified as Endangered in the UK, and protected by Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
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Threats

One of the reasons for the disappearance of this moss from two of the Scottish sites is due to the afforestation of much of these upland bogs. This dates from the time when upland mires and bogs were not considered to be sites worthy of protecting. As well as shading, the moss is affected by changes in the water quality, particularly increased acidity and higher nutrient levels. Drainage of bogs and peat-cutting are also potential threats to this species, along with inappropriate gathering of all sphagnum species by the horticultural trade and by local collectors.
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Management

Conservation

Baltic bog moss is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans (UK BAP), and is included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme (SRP). The most important tasks behind protecting this moss are as follows: to re-survey those sites where it is known to have occurred in the past; ensure the survival of the moss where it is still found; establish ex-situ colonies (from British plants) to provide specimens for re-colonising suitable sites. It is also important that the precise habitat requirements of this species are known, particularly in view of its intolerance of poor water quality. It is hoped that more bryologists will be trained to identify this species and encouraged to report any new records. Finally, the indiscriminate collecting of sphagnum from the wild for use by the horticulture industry (for use in hanging baskets and displays) should be discouraged, perhaps by using local publicity and information boards at the appropriate sites.
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Notes

Comments

Unlike Sphagnum angustifolium and S. annulatum, S. balticum has stem leaves exerted at right angles to the stem. It also has fewer and weaker hanging branches than does S. angustifolium, which make the stem itself often visible and the stem leaves easier to see. Sphagnum balticum also lacks the paired pendent branch buds between the capitulum rays as seen in S. angustifolium.

  

In Sphagnum kenaiense there are sometimes spreading stem leaves but this species has 2 hanging branches per fascicle.

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