Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health of ecosystems on U.S. golf courses better than predicted, researchers find

Date:
April 10, 2014
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Currently, there are more than 18,300 golf courses in the US covering over 2.7 million acres. The ecological impacts of golf courses are not always straightforward with popular opinion suggesting that environmentally, golf courses have a negative impact on ecosystems. Now, researchers have determined that golf courses can offer a viable habitat for stream salamanders, and enhanced management practices may be beneficial to ecosystems within golf courses.

Black-Bellied Salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus).
Credit: Bill Peterman

Currently, there are more than 18,300 golf courses in the U.S. covering over 2.7 million acres. The ecological impacts of golf courses are not always straightforward with popular opinion suggesting that environmentally, golf courses have a negative impact on ecosystems. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that golf courses can offer a viable habitat for stream salamanders, and enhanced management practices may be beneficial to ecosystems within golf courses.

"If you look at the literature on golf courses, historically they get a lot of bad publicity," said Ray Semlitsch, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU. "It's always been thought that course managers not only clear the land, but they add a lot of chemicals to the environment. In terms of maintaining the turf of the golf course, managers use herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. We went into the research study thinking these things were going to be really toxic and really bad to the salamanders. What we found was quite the opposite -- golf courses can actually provide a wonderful habitat for salamanders and other organisms where they can survive and thrive."

The study was conducted on 10 golf courses in the southern Appalachian region of western North Carolina. All courses were within a 30-mile radius of the Highlands Biological Station. Sampling focused on both larvae and adult salamanders in streams that crossed fairways within the golf courses. Water samples were also analyzed for chemicals and adverse substances that might be detrimental to the salamanders located on the courses.

"Surprisingly, we found no change or reduction in the abundance or diversity of salamanders downstream, which is where we expected to find chemical runoff from the upkeep and maintenance of the courses," Semlitsch said. "Golf courses have an environmental impact when they go in and clear an area; however, because of improved management techniques, we're seeing no signs of chemical effects around these courses. It implies that the turf science industry is doing a great job at utilizing fairway design techniques, plants that reduce chemicals found in the soil, and other methods to ensure that biodiversity succeeds on the course."

Semlitsch and his research team, including graduate students, Mark Mackey, Grant Connette and Bill Peterman, suggest that salamander abundance on golf courses and related ecosystems may be enhanced through simple management practices such as retaining woody debris, leaf litter, and restoring the natural buffers between fairways and streams.

"We have this image of pristine and highly manicured fairways such as the ones we see in Augusta, or at Pebble Beach," Semlitsch said. "However, our research suggests a more natural course that includes streams with leaf litter, sticks and twigs that offer a natural habitat for different species is preferred. Turf and golf course managers are taking note of these practices, and it is making a real ecological difference."

The study, "Do golf courses reduce the ecological value of headwater streams for salamanders in the southern Appalachian Mountains?" was published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mark J. Mackey, Grant M. Connette, William E. Peterman, Raymond D. Semlitsch. Do golf courses reduce the ecological value of headwater streams for salamanders in the southern Appalachian Mountains? Landscape and Urban Planning, 2014; 125: 17 DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.01.013

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Health of ecosystems on U.S. golf courses better than predicted, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122201.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2014, April 10). Health of ecosystems on U.S. golf courses better than predicted, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122201.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Health of ecosystems on U.S. golf courses better than predicted, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122201.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A day after over 100,000 people marched against climate change, more than 1,000 activists blocked parts of Manhattan's financial district. Over 100 people, including a person wearing a white polar bear suit, were arrested Monday night. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned about the potential "catastrophe" if global warming was not dealt with in a "powerful" way. Duration: 01:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) After a year of poor rains and heavy fighting Somalia is again at risk of famine, just three years after food shortages killed 260,000 people. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins