Forest Land-Use Legacy Research Exhibits Aspects of Critical Physical Geography

  • David Robertson
  • Chris Larsen
  • Steve Tulowiecki


This chapter explores the relationship between two emergent and related areas of interdisciplinary scholarship: forest land-use legacy (LUL) research and Critical Physical Geography (CPG). We review the peer-reviewed literature on LULs, provide a focused analysis of studies exploring LUL effects in forest ecosystems, and explore the relevance of this research to CPG. Specifically, we analyze the use of biophysical and human data in forest LUL research and the presence of intellectual tenets of CPG, namely, transdisciplinarity, reflexivity, and power and justice. The chapter concludes with a reflection on how adoption of a CPG approach can inform future research on forest LULs.


  1. Ameztegui, A., L. Coll, L. Brotons, and J.M. Ninot. 2016. Land-use legacies rather than climate change are driving the recent upward shift of the mountain tree line in the pyrenees. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25: 263–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkinson, E.E., and E. Marín-Spiotta. 2014. Land use legacy effects on structure and composition of subtropical dry forests in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Forest Ecology and Management 335: 270–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beard, K.H., K.A. Vogt, D.J. Vogt, F.N. Scatena, A.P. Covich, R. Sigurdardottir, T.G. Siccama, and T.A. Crowl. 2005. Structural and functional responses of a subtropical forest to 10 years of hurricanes and droughts. Ecological Monographs 75: 345–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blixt, T., K.-O. Bergman, P. Milberg, L. Westerberg, and D. Jonason. 2015. Clear-cuts in production forests: From matrix to neo-habitat for butterflies. Acta Oecologica 69: 71–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Breuer, F., and W. Roth. 2003. Subjectivity and reflexivity in the social sciences: Epistemic windows and methodical consequences. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 4: Article 25.
  6. Bryman, A. 2006. Integrating quantitative and qualitative research: How is it done? Qualitative Research 6: 97–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chai, S.-L., and E.V.J. Tanner. 2011. 150-year legacy of land use on tree species composition in old-secondary forests of Jamaica. Journal of Ecology 99: 113–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clifford, M.J., N.S. Cobb, and M. Buenemann. 2011. Long-term tree cover dynamics in a pinyon-juniper woodland: Climate-change-type drought resets successional clock. Ecosystems 14: 949–962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cloke, P., C. Philo, and D. Sadler. 1991. Approaching human geography: An introduction to contemporary theoretical debates. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Della Porta, D., and M. Keating, eds. 2008. Approaches and methodologies in the social sciences: A pluralistic perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dickens, S.J.M., S. Mangla, K.L. Preston, and K.N. Suding. 2016. Embracing variability: Environmental dependence and plant community context in ecological restoration. Restoration Ecology 24: 119–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Foster, D.R., M. Fluet, and E.R. Boose. 1999. Human or natural disturbance: Landscape-scale dynamics of the tropical forests of Puerto Rico. Ecological Applications 9: 555–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foster, D.R., F. Swanson, J. Aber, I. Burke, N. Brokaw, D. Tilman, and A. Knapp. 2003. The importance of land-use legacies to ecology and conservation. BioScience 53: 77–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Franklin, J. 2007. Recovery from clearing, cyclone and fire in rain forests of Tonga, South Pacific: Vegetation dynamics 1995–2005. Austral Ecology 32: 789–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gragson, T.L., and P.V. Bolstad. 2006. Land use legacies and the future of Southern Appalachia. Society and Natural Resources 19: 175–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Greene, J.C., V.J. Caracelli, and W.F. Graham. 1989. Toward a conceptual framework for mixed-method evaluation designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 11: 255–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hahn, P.G., and J.L. Orrock. 2015. Land-use legacies and present fire regimes interact to mediate herbivory by altering the neighboring plant community. Oikos 124: 497–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Inkpen, R. 2005. Science, philosophy and physical geography. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Kepfer-Rojas, S., K. Verheyen, V.K. Johannsen, and I.K. Schmidt. 2015. Indirect effects of land-use legacies determine tree colonization patterns in Abandoned Heathland. Applied Vegetation Science 18: 456–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kirkman, L.K., R.F. Lide, G. Wein, and R.R. Sharitz. 1996. Vegetation changes and land-use legacies of depression wetlands of the Western Coastal Plain of South Carolina: 1951–1992. Wetlands 16: 564–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuemmerle, T., P. Olofsson, O. Chaskovskyy, M. Baumann, K. Ostapowicz, C.E. Woodcock, R.A. Houghton, P. Hostert, W.S. Keeton, and V.C. Radeloff. 2011. Post-soviet farmland abandonment, forest recovery, and carbon sequestration in Western Ukraine. Global Change Biology 17: 1335–1349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuhman, T.R., S.M. Pearson, and M.G. Turner. 2011. Agricultural land-use history increases non-native plant invasion in a southern Appalachian forest a century after abandonment. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 41: 920–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lave, R. 2015. Introduction to special issue on Critical Physical Geography. Progress in Physical Geography 39: 571–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lave, R., M.W. Wilson, E.S. Barron, C. Biermann, M.A. Carey, C.S. Duvall, L. Johnson, et al. 2014. Intervention: Critical Physical Geography. Canadian Geographer 58: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lu, X., D.W. Kicklighter, J.M. Melillo, J.M. Reilly, and L. Xu. 2015. Land carbon sequestration within the conterminous United States: Regional- and state-level analyses. Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences 120: 379–398.Google Scholar
  26. Lynch, M. 2000. Against reflexivity as an academic virtue and source of privileged knowledge. Theory, Culture and Society 17: 26–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Malterud, K. 2001. Qualitative research: Standards, challenges and guidelines. The Lancet 358: 483–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mattingly, W.B., J.L. Orrock, C.D. Collins, L.A. Brudvig, E.I. Damschen, J.W. Veldman, and J.L. Walker. 2015. Historical agriculture alters the effects of fire on understory plant beta diversity. Oecologia 177: 507–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McClenachan, L., A.B. Cooper, M.G. McKenzie, and J.A. Drew. 2015. The importance of surprising results and best practices in historical ecology. BioScience 65: 932–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McDonald, R.I., G. Motzkin, and D.R. Foster. 2008. Assessing the influence of historical factors, contemporary processes, and environmental conditions on the distribution of invasive species. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135: 260–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McEwan, R.W., J.M. Dyer, and N. Pederson. 2011. Multiple interacting ecosystem drivers: Toward an encompassing hypothesis of oak forest dynamics across Eastern North America. Ecography 34: 244–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mesquita, R.D.C.G., P.E.D.S. Massoca, C.C. Jakovac, T.V. Bentos, and G.B. Williamson. 2015. Amazon rain forest succession: Stochasticity or land-use legacy? BioScience 65: 849–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Montello, D.R., and P.C. Sutton. 2006. An introduction to scientific research methods in geography. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  34. Munteanu, C., T. Kuemmerle, M. Boltiziar, V. Butsic, U. Gimmi, Lúboš Halada, D. Kaim, et al. 2014. Forest and agricultural land change in the carpathian region-A meta-analysis of long-term patterns and drivers of change. Land Use Policy 38: 685–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Munteanu, C., T. Kuemmerle, N.S. Keuler, D. Müller, P. Balázs, M. Dobosz, P. Griffiths, et al. 2015. Legacies of 19th century land-use shape contemporary forest cover. Global Environmental Change 34: 83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Napton, D.E., R.F. Auch, R. Headley, and J.L. Taylor. 2010. Land changes and their driving forces in the Southeastern United States. Regional Environmental Change 10: 37–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oswalt, C.M., S. Fei, Q. Guo, B.V. Iannone III, S.N. Oswalt, B.C. Pijanowski, and K.M. Potter. 2015. A subcontinental view of forest plant invasions. NeoBiota 24: 49–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Perring, M., Pieter De Frenne, Lander Baeten, Sybryn Maes, Leen Depauw, Haben Blondeel, María Mercedes Carón, and Kris Verheyen. 2016. Global environmental change effects on ecosystems: The importance of land-use legacies. Global Change Biology 22: 1361–1371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Plieninger, T., H. Schaich, and T. Kizos. 2011. Land-use legacies in the forest structure of silvopastoral oak woodlands in the Eastern Mediterranean. Regional Environmental Change 11: 603–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Plue, J., M. Hermy, K. Verheyen, P. Thuillier, R. Saguez, and G. Decocq. 2008. Persistent changes in forest vegetation and seed bank 1,600 years after human occupation. Landscape Ecology 23: 673–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ponette-González, A.G., and M. Fry. 2014. Enduring footprint of historical land tenure on modern land cover in Eastern Mexico: Implications for environmental services programmes. Area 46: 398–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ponette-González, A.G., H.A. Ewing, M. Fry, and K.R. Young. 2016. Soil and fine root chemistry at a tropical andean timberline. Catena 137: 350–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rhemtulla, J.M., D.J. Mladenoff, and M.K. Clayton. 2007. Regional land-cover conversion in the U.S. Upper Midwest: Magnitude of change and limited recovery (1850-1935-1993). Landscape Ecology 22: 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. ———. 2009. Legacies of historical land use on regional forest composition and structure in Wisconsin, USA (Mid-1800s-1930s-2000s). Ecological Applications 19: 1061–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tadaki, M., G. Brierley, M. Dickson, R. Le Heron, and J. Salmond. 2015. Cultivating critical practices in physical geography. Geographical Journal 181: 160–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tayyebi, A., B.C. Pijanowski, and B.K. Pekin. 2015. Land use legacies of the Ohio river basin: Using a spatially explicit land use change model to assess past and future impacts on aquatic resources. Applied Geography 57: 100–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thompson, J.R., D.R. Foster, R. Scheller, and D. Kittredge. 2011. The influence of land use and climate change on forest biomass and composition in Massachusetts, USA. Ecological Applications 21: 2425–2444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tokuoka, Y., and K. Hashigoe. 2014. Effects of stone-walled terracing and historical forest disturbances on revegetation processes after the abandonment of mountain slope uses on the Yura Peninsula, Southwestern Japan. Journal of Forest Research 20: 24–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Torres, I., B. Pérez, J. Quesada, O. Viedma, and J.M. Moreno. 2016. Forest shifts induced by fire and management legacies in a Pinus pinaster woodland. Forest Ecology and Management 361: 309–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tulowiecki, S.J., and C.P.S. Larsen. 2015. Native American impact on past forest composition inferred from species distribution models, Chautauqua county, New York. Ecological Monographs 85: 557–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Turner, B.L., II, E.F. Lambin, and A. Reenberg. 2007. The emergence of land change science for global environmental change and sustainability. PNAS 104 (52): 20666–20671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Uriarte, M., C.D. Canham, J. Thompson, J.K. Zimmerman, L. Murphy, A.M. Sabat, N. Fetcher, and B.L. Haines. 2009. Natural disturbance and human land use as determinants of tropical forest dynamics: Results from a forest simulator. Ecological Monographs 79: 423–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Valencia, V., S. Naeem, L. García-Barrios, P. West, and E.J. Sterling. 2016. Conservation of tree species of late succession and conservation concern in coffee agroforestry systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 219: 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wallin, D.O., F.J. Swanson, and B. Marks. 1994. Landscape pattern response to changes in pattern generation rules: Land-use legacies in forestry. Ecological Applications 4: 69–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Warren, R.J. II. 2016. Ghosts of cultivation past—Native American dispersal legacy persists in tree distribution. PLoS One 11 (3): e0150707.Google Scholar
  56. Williams, M. 1989. Americans and their forests: A historical geography. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Robertson
    • 1
  • Chris Larsen
    • 2
  • Steve Tulowiecki
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographySUNY GeneseoGeneseoUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

Personalised recommendations