Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Carly Ziter; Rose A. Graves; Monica G. Turner
    Date: 2017
    Source: Landscape Ecology
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (586.0 KB)



    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.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Ziter, Carly; Graves, Rose A.; Turner, Monica G. 2017.How do land-use legacies affect ecosystem services in United States cultural landscapes?. Landscape Ecology. 21(3): 1129-.


    Google Scholar


    Land-use change, urban ecosystems, exurban ecosystems, agricultural ecosystems, historical ecology

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page