Image above: Aerial view across the Flow Country showing peatland pool system / Credit: Nature Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo)

Understanding of the development of peat bogs have improved greatly over the past decade but investigation of the properties of peat and mires is no simple undertaking. It involves taking multiple cores from bogs to establish peat depth and stratigraphy and then careful analysis of the cores. The various layers must be dated using radiocarbon and the pollen and sub-fossil wood, seeds and leaves must be analysed. For the most detailed environmental reconstructions, it is increasingly common for beetle and midge remains to be examined, identified and counted at intervals of a few cms through metres long cores. And let’s not forget the tephra layers….

Sphagnum – the peat former

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