Friday, 16 November 2012

Hello Mr. Newt!

Roughskin Newt Nov 15 9th green
 Yesterday while inspecting my greens I came across this Roughskin Newt (Tarichia granulosa). In recent months I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of newt or salamander sightings on the putting greens at my course. This is the fifth salamander sighting since September.

I have always made mental note of newt sightings on the course simply because they are quite rare. I can only remember about 4 or 5 sightings in 12 years before this September.

Salamanders are considered to be an indicator species as they are extremely sensitive to environmental changes or pollution. They basically breathe and drink through their skin. Where human skin is one of our greatest defense mechanisms, amphibians will absorb anything they come in contact with through their skin. Many also spend part of their life cycle in aquatic environments and terrestrial environments which means that any pollution in either will drastically affect them. They also aren't affected much by predators as they are extremely toxic if ingested. They give a really good indication of the ecosystem health as a whole! For more information on amphibians check out the BC Frogwatch Page .

Oct 28 Upper practice green.
Recently I have started to record any salamander or frog sightings and will be instructing my crew to notify me when they make the sightings as well. I have inserted a visual inspection of the greens before mowing or rolling into the employee procedure manual and have also added a cup inspection before replacing a plug in an old hole. I have found 2 of these guys in old holes. This data gives me a really good idea of the health of the environment on the golf course.

A hot topic among the course membership is the fact that we are required to leave any trees that we cut down in the bush. Most people see this as wasteful. These newts are exactly the reason why we are required to do this. Many salamander species live in old rotten logs and if we continually clean the forest around the golf course we essentially remove salamander habitat.

In the end the fact that I am seeing more and more sensitive species on the golf course only confirms that the decisions I have made over that past few years have been for the better. With all of the negative press about pesticide use lately it is hard not to feel that as a golf course superintendent that I am destroying the environment. Well you know what naysayers!? I am not and I have proof!