Golf Course Management

MAY 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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28 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 05.18 Was it your childhood dream to find a chest of gold buried in your backyard? Uni - versity of Wisconsin graduate student Carly Ziter has been digging in 40 yards in Madi - son, Wis., as well as at 60 other sites in the city. She hasn't found any gold, but the soil has yielded its secrets. rough her research, Ziter has been able to show that urban green spaces are significant providers of ecosystem services, which she defines as "the ways that nature benefits us." Although urban areas have recently been rec - ognized for their contributions to ecosystem services, Ziter is concerned that scientists have overlooked the complexity of land-use history of cities and how that legacy affects ecosystem services in the present day. To explore the role of urban areas in the ecosystem and how the history of those areas affects their current con - tributions, Ziter centered her study on Madi- son, which had been an agricultural area be- fore it became the state capital. e aim of the research was to answer three questions: (1) How do ecosystem ser - vices indicators vary with contemporary land cover and time since development? (2) Do ecosystem services indicators vary primarily among land-cover classes, within land-cover classes or within sites? (3) What is the relative contribution of urban land-cover classes to po - tential citywide ecosystem services provision? ree soil-based ecosystem services were tested for this study: carbon storage (measured as carbon density), water-quality regulation (measured as available phosphorus) and flood mitigation (measured as saturated hydraulic conductivity). e five land-cover classes in the research project were deciduous forest, grassland (unmowed meadows, restored prai - ries), open space (city parks, golf courses and cemeteries), and low- and medium-density de - veloped areas (both categories are described as residential). Each class was tested at 20 sites distributed throughout the city. Each site was 30 meters × 30 meters with four 5-meter × 5-meter subplots (30 meters = ~33 yards; 5 meters = ~5.5 yards). Soil samples were taken from each subplot and tested to determine whether the site was providing any of the three ecosystem services. Urban green spaces help store carbon and control flooding (turf) Teresa Carson Twitter: @GCM_Magazine Forty residences were among the sampling sites in Madison, Wis., for University of Wisconsin graduate student Carly Ziter's study of the benefits of various urban green spaces. Photo by Lauren Jensen e results showed that open spaces and residential areas both stored more carbon than natural areas like forests and grasslands. Madison is unusual in that residential areas and open spaces contributed equally to car - bon storage, and carbon storage was actu- ally greater in the city than in the surround- ing agricultural areas. Awareness of the high amounts of carbon stored in urban areas is important, says Ziter, because regional and national studies have often considered carbon storage to be nonexistent in urban areas. Flood mitigation, also called runoff regula - tion services, was highest in forests and next highest in unmowed meadows and restored prairies, likely because of the lower bulk den - sity of the soil in these areas. Meadows and prairies are unlikely to have been tilled, which would reduce soil bulk density. Phosphorus levels in residential areas were high. Phosphorous fertilizers were banned in Madison in 2005, but their use for many years before the ban has likely caused the phospho - rus to persist in the soil. Household pet waste also contributes to high levels of phosphorus in residential soil — pet waste was the source of 76% of phosphorus inputs in residential watersheds in a Minnesota study published in 2017. High soil phosphorus combined with large areas of impervious cover can result in high levels of phosphorus in stormwater and present a danger to water quality. Residential areas showed more diversity within sites than between sites, possibly re - flecting different management practices by different owners and varying uses for front yards versus backyards. In contrast, larger areas like forests, grasslands and open spaces were most variable among sites, reflecting the larger scale of the green space. For example, one grassland site may be burned regularly, and the other may not be burned at all. In summary, urban areas include a mosaic of green spaces that offer significant ecosytem services. In the past, ecosystem services in urban areas have been overlooked and under - rated. e effect of historical land use is im- portant in measuring current ecosystem ser- vices and should not be ignored. And, since most of the population lives in urban areas, small actions by a large number of individuals can have a significant positive effect on their environment and should be encouraged. e full article is available at https://doi. org/10.1002/eap.1689. Teresa Carson is GCM 's science editor.

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