TitleHow do land-use legacies affect ecosystem services in United States cultural landscapes?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsZiter, C, Graves, RA, Turner, MG
JournalLandscape Ecology
Pagination1 - 14
Date Published2017//
ISBN Number1572-9761
KeywordsAgricultural ecosystems, Exurban ecosystems, Historical ecology, land-use change, Urban ecosystems

Landscape-scale studies of ecosystem services (ES) have increased, but few consider land-use history. Historical land use may be especially important in cultural landscapes, producing legacies that influence ecosystem structure, function, and biota that in turn affect ES supply. Our goal was to generate a conceptual framework for understanding when land-use legacies matter for ES supply in well-studied agricultural,urban, and exurban US landscapes. We synthesized illustrative examples from published literature in which landscape legacies were demonstrated or are likely to influence ES. We suggest three related conditions in which land-use legacies are important for understanding current ES supply. (1) Intrinsically slow ecological processes govern ES supply, illustrated for soil-based and hydrologic services impaired by slowly processed pollutants. (2) Time lags between land-use change and ecosystem responses delay effects on ES supply, illustrated for biodiversity-based services that may experience an ES debt. (3) Threshold relationships exist, such that changes in ES are difficult to reverse,and legacy lock-in disconnects contemporary landscapes from ES supply, illustrated by hydrologic services. Mismatches between contemporary landscape patterns and mechanisms underpinning ES supply yield unexpected patterns of ES. Today’s land-use decisions will generate tomorrow’s legacies, and ES will be affected if processes underpinning ES are affected by land-use legacies. Research priorities include understanding effects of urban abandonment, new contaminants, and interactions of land-use legacies and climate change. Improved understanding of historical effects will improve management of contemporary ES, and aid in decision-making as new challenges to sustaining cultural landscapes arise.

Short TitleLandscape Ecology