Golf is said to be among the most rapidly increasing forms of land use, yet little is known of the effects of golf courses and golf playing on wildlife. A Norwegian population of the endangered ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana) occurs on a forest burn that has an area allocated to golf. Some forest-burn habitat (heather [Calluna vulgaris] heath with scattered, small Scots pines [Pinus sylvestris]) remains between fairways and on the periphery of the golf course. I compared pairing success, residence times, and emigration rates of male ortolan buntings in the interior and periphery of the golf course and in a neighboring part of undisturbed forest burn (control area). Males in the interior of the golf course (n = 4) never attracted females and less than half (43%, n = 7) in the golf periphery did so, whereas most males in the control area attracted females (77%, n = 13; all males on golf course vs. control: P = 0.038). Males in the golf interior had shorter residence times than males on the golf periphery, and both were present for a shorter time than males in the control area (golf vs. control: P = 0.030). All males that had territories in the golf interior emigrated to other areas (median = 13.3 km away). The emigration rate was lower for males on the golf periphery (43%) and even lower in the control area (15%; golf vs. control: P = 0.033). Males emigrating from the golf course attracted females at the same rate as control males in their new areas of residence. Compared to males in the rest of the forest burn (n = 76), males on the golf course had shorter residence times (P = 0.049) and higher emigration rate (P = 0.009), but pairing success was not different (P = 0.196). Overall, the golf course did not seem to be attractive to ortolan buntings, although the lack of other populations on golf courses precludes replicate studies. Whether the apparent avoidance was due to fragmentation of breeding habitat on the golf course, human disturbance, or some other reason remains to be tested. In the case of the ortolan bunting, the negative effects of the golf course probably would have been reduced if remaining natural habitat had been concentrated to the periphery of the golf course and adjacent to other bunting habitat.
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Vol. 68 • No. 3