Closer Look: Home on the Links

"Long derided by environmentalists for their excessive use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, golf courses are perhaps the last place one would expect to encounter amphibian-friendly habitats. But this is exactly what amphibian expert Ray Semlitsch, a Curators Professor of Biological Sciences, and his MU team found in a recent study."

Home on the links: Over the past decade or so, scientists have noted with alarm sharp declines in salamander populations worldwide, a trend exacerbated by climate change, pollution and, perhaps most importantly, habitat loss. Now some rare good news has recently emerged from an unlikely place: America‚Äôs estimated 18,300 golf courses. Long derided by environmentalists for their excessive use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, golf courses are perhaps the last place one would expect to encounter amphibian-friendly habitats. But this is exactly what amphibian expert Ray Semlitsch, a Curators Professor of Biological Sciences, and his MU team found in a recent study. No one was more surprised than Semlitsch himself. “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.”

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