Salamander dispersal across a forested landscape fragmented by a golf course

Document Type


Date of Original Version



We assessed dispersal behavior of 78 radiotagged adult spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) at a 36-hole golf course in southeastern Connecticut, USA. Lake of Isles Golf Course is atypical of most golf courses in North America because it is much larger (461 ha) than average 18-hole golf courses (54 ha) and deciduous forests accounted for 70% landscape composition on the course. We tracked individuals an average of 164 days as they emigrated from 3 seasonal pools surrounded by golf course fairways and one pool located in contiguous forest (control pool) from March through December 2004. Males and females dispersed similar distances at the control pool, averaging 71 ± 10 m. However, females migrating across the golf course dispersed twice as far (214 ± 25 m) as males on the golf course (102 ± 15 m) and both genders at the control pool. Over 40% the salamanders at the golf course crossed fairways; thus, fairways were not a dispersal barrier to adult spotted salamanders. Previous researchers have suggested establishing a 164-m life zone around breeding ponds to protect pond-breeding amphibian populations. Our results suggest that strategies that protect core upland habitat within 164 m of wetland boundaries would include 82% of adult males and only 50% of adult females. Empirical estimates based on our telemetry study suggest that core terrestrial habitat would have to extend 370 m to protect 95% of adult females, which is much farther than previous estimates.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Wildlife Management