Special Feature:
Ghosts of land-use past: Do land-use legacy effects constrain the restoration of aquatic ecosystems?

Illustration of channel complexity in a wilderness versus modified stream. Stream channel complexity contrasted in two watersheds including the Minam River—a designated wilderness area representing historical conditions—as seen from (A) aerial photography and (B) ground photography in 2013, and a simplified and unnaturally widened stream channel in the heavily impacted upper Grande Ronde River as seen from (C) aerial photography and (D) ground photography in 2015. Aerial images courtesy of Google Earth; ground images courtesy of the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.192.f1

Illustration of channel complexity in a wilderness versus modified stream. Stream channel complexity contrasted in two watersheds including the Minam River—a designated wilderness area representing historical conditions—as seen from (A) aerial photography and (B) ground photography in 2013, and a simplified and unnaturally widened stream channel in the heavily impacted upper Grande Ronde River as seen from (C) aerial photography and (D) ground photography in 2015. Aerial images courtesy of Google Earth; ground images courtesy of the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.192.f1

Collection launched: February 1, 2017

Guest Editors

Marcelo Ardón, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, USA
Ariane Peralta, Department of Biology, East Carolina University, USA

Recovery of the structure and function of degraded aquatic ecosystems is challenging due to past and present human impacts. Ecologists are increasingly recognizing that legacy effects of past land-use are important ecological features to recognize as potential barriers to restoring functioning, resilient aquatic ecosystems. Legacy effects include altered soil physical structure, increased nutrient content in soils/sediments, simplified geomorphology, altered hydrology, depleted seed banks, simplified food webs, and altered light regimes. These effects can limit the recovery trajectory of aquatic ecosystems long after the cessation of impacts, making restored ecosystems more vulnerable to current human impacts and climate change. Furthermore, land-use legacies coupled with climate change drivers could lead to positive feedbacks to climate, such as increased greenhouse gas emissions from nutrient-rich restored wetlands experiencing increased flooding and drought conditions. This special feature includes articles examining the consequences of past land-use on the recovery of processes at various spatial (microbial to ecosystem) and temporal scales (months to decades) in streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The papers in this Special Feature evaluate how legacy effects impact restoration of ecosystem structure and functions. The papers identify and evaluate potential barriers to restoration efforts and seek to make recommendations to restoration practitioners on ways to overcome these legacy effects and restore functioning, resilient aquatic ecosystems.

Additional articles under review

Conceptual diagram of upstream and downstream stressors affecting wetland restoration sites in the coastal plain of the US. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.236.f1

Conceptual diagram of upstream and downstream stressors affecting wetland restoration sites in the coastal plain of the US. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.236.f1

Collection Articles

Research Article
Legacies of stream channel modification revealed using General Land Office surveys, with implications for water temperature and aquatic life
Seth M. White, Casey Justice, Denise A. Kelsey, Dale A. McCullough, Tyanna Smith

Research Article
Fertilizer legacies meet saltwater incursion: challenges and constraints for coastal plain wetland restoration
Marcelo Ardón, Ashley M. Helton, Mark D. Scheuerell, Emily S. Bernhardt

Research Article
Effectiveness of cattail (Typha spp.) management techniques depends on exogenous nitrogen inputs
Kenneth J. Elgersma, Jason P. Martina, Deborah E. Goldberg, William S. Currie