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Golf courses and wetland fauna

Johan Colding, Jakob Lundberg, Stefan Lundberg and Erik Andersson. Ecological Applications, 19(6):1481–1491 (2009)


Golf courses are often considered to be chemical-intensive ecosystems with negative impacts on fauna. Here we provide evidence that golf courses can contribute to the support and conservation of wetland fauna, i.e., amphibians and macroinvertebrates. Comparisons of amphibian occurrence, diversity of macroinvetebrates, and occurrence of species of conservation concern were made between permanent freshwater ponds surveyed on golf courses around Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm, and off-course ponds in natureprotected areas and residential parklands. A total of 71 macroinvertebrate species were recorded in the field study, with no significant difference between golf course ponds and offcourse ponds at the species, genus, or family levels. A within-group similarities test showed that golf course ponds have a more homogenous species composition than ponds in natureprotected areas and ponds in residential parkland. Within the macroinvertebrate group, a total of 11 species of odonates were identified, with no difference detected between the categories of ponds, nor any spatial autocorrelation. Significant differences were found between pond categories in the occurrence of five species of amphibians, although anuran occurrence did not differ between ponds. The great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) was significantly associated with golf course ponds, but the smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) was not. We found no evidence of any correlation between pond size and occurrence of amphibians. Among the taxa of conservation concern included in the sample, all amphibians are nationally protected in Sweden, with the internationally threatened T. cristatus more frequently found in golf course ponds. Among macroinveterbrates of conservation status, the large white-faced darter dragonfly (Leucorrhinia pectoralis) was only detected in golf course ponds, and Tricholeiochiton fagesi (Trichoptera) was only found in one off-course pond. GIS results revealed that golf courses provide over a quarter of all available permanent, freshwater ponds in central greater Stockholm. We assert that golf courses have the potential to contribute to wetland fauna support, particularly in urban settings where they may significantly contribute to wetland creation. We propose a greater involvement of ecologists in the design of golf courses to further bolster this potential.

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Keywords: amphibians, biodiversity, conservation, ecosystem management, golf courses, land use, macroinvertebrates, odonates, ponds, wetlands

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