Design guidelines for integrating amphibian habitat into golf course landscapes
The average golf course occupies 150 acres of land and consists of approximately 16% non-turfgrass vegetation and 7% waterbodies. This results in approximately 35 ha on an average course that consists of forest, naturalized areas, and aquatic environments (natural or constructed) which are generally incorporated into the course layout for strategic and aesthetic purposes. Amphibian populations have been declining worldwide due to a number of environmental and human factors with habitat destruction, alteration and fragmentation considered to be the primary cause. A study was undertaken to explore whether golf course design has the potential to aid conservation efforts by providing high quality habitat for pond-breeding amphibians in the Great Lakes Region of Canada and the USA. A literature review of golf course design and maintenance combined with key informant interviews with golf course architects and superintendents revealed suitable areas within the course landscape to integrate aquatic and terrestrial environments that would not adversely affect the game of golf. This information was combined with the habitat composition and configuration requirements of pond-breeding amphibians to develop a set of design guidelines to aid architects in the provision of quality habitat within golf course landscapes. By adopting an integrative approach to golf course design that satisfies the habitat needs of amphibians and recreational use by humans, golf courses present valuable opportunities to mitigate the negative effects on global populations associated with habitat loss.