The efficacy of small-scale conservation efforts, as assessed on Australian golf courses.
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Habitat remnants on urban green-space areas (i.e. parks, gardens and golf courses) sometimes provide refuge to urban-avoiding wildlife, leading some to suggest these areas may play a role in wildlife conservation if they are appropriately designed and managed. The high densities observed on some green-space areas may however be attributed to external influences. Localised efforts to enhance the habitat value of urban green-space areas may therefore have little more than a cosmetic effect. This study investigated environmental factors influencing bird, reptile, mammal and amphibian diversity on Australian golf courses to assess the efficacy of small-scale conservation efforts. Abundance and species richness did not simply reflect local habitat qualities but were instead, partly determined by the nature of the surrounding landscape (i.e. the area of adjacent built land, native vegetation and the number of connecting streams). Vertebrate abundance and species richness were however, also associated with on-site habitat characteristics, increasing with the area of native vegetation (all vertebrates), foliage height diversity and native grass cover (birds), tree density, native grass cover and the number of hollows (mammals), woody debris, patch width and canopy cover (reptiles), waterbody heterogeneity and aquatic vegetation complexity (frogs). Localised conservation efforts on small land types can benefit urban-avoiding wildlife. Urban green-space areas can provide refuge to urban-avoiding vertebrates provided combined efforts are made at patch (management), local (design) and landscape (planning) scales.