The conservation value of suburban golf courses in a rapidly urbanising region of Australia.
MetadataShow full item record
The conservation value of suburban golf courses was assessed in southeast Queensland, Australia, by investigating their capacity to support urban-threatened birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs. Terrestrial vertebrate assemblages were compared between golf courses and nearby eucalypt fragments and with suburban bird assemblages. Biotic diversity varied among golf courses. While some had conservation value (supporting high densities of regionally threatened vertebrates), most failed to realise that potential, supporting only common urban-adapted species. Golf courses were generally a better refuge for threatened birds and mammals than for threatened reptiles and amphibians. Reasons for the relative absence of threatened herpetofauna are currently unclear but could be attributed to increased sensitivity to isolation, exposure to herbicides or greater disruption of ground-level habitats. While species-specific studies are required to identify the ecological role played by habitats on golf courses and the potential for long-term viability, the results confirm that suburban golf courses can have local conservation value for threatened vertebrates. Given their ubiquity, golf courses present a significant opportunity for urban wildlife conservation. Thus while the golf industry is making genuine attempts to improve its environmental management standards, it is important to ensure those efforts target the needs of regionally threatened species. Legislation may be required to ensure ecological criteria are incorporated in new golf developments. Ongoing research is investigating the effect that golf course design and management practices have on the local diversity of threatened vertebrates.
Landscape and Urban Planning