COURSE CARE
Keeping all the Pieces: Restoring Natural Processes on Golf Courses February 27, 2015

Photo Caption:The USGA supported research at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio to examine how buffer vegetation around ponds could benefit amphibians. Scientists found that sensitive species like Blanchard’s cricket frogs (pictured above) benefited from buffer zones and taller grass surrounding ponds. The research indicates that many species of amphibians would benefit from properly managed aquatic and terrestrial habitat on golf courses.

Golf courses can be compatible with wildlife when management practices support natural habitats. For example, several amphibians use ponds for larval development, and many adult species congregate around ponds during the year. Golf courses can benefit local amphibian populations because they frequently have ponds on their property. Managing golf courses in ways that help amphibians can provide benefits such as tadpoles grazing on algae, young salamanders eating mosquito larvae, and adult amphibians feeding voraciously on nuisance insects.

The USGA supported a study in Oxford, Ohio by scientists at Miami University to examine how buffer vegetation around ponds could benefit amphibians. The goal was to reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff into ponds, and provide valuable habitat for adult amphibians to survive during the winter. The scientists found that sensitive species like Blanchard’s cricket frogs (Acris blanchardi) benefited from buffer zones and taller grass surrounding ponds. The research indicates that many species of amphibians would benefit from properly managed aquatic and terrestrial habitat on golf courses. However, not all habitats are created equally. The more closely a local habitat mimics nature; the more likely a golf course will reap the free rewards nature provides.

Looking to nature as a guide for managing out-of-play areas can serve as a means for preserving all of an ecosystem’s pieces, and the benefits they provide. When green spaces like golf courses can help mitigate the effects of habitat destruction, everyone wins.

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Seasonal Wetlands and Golf Courses