I am an ecologist writing a paper about disturbed forests (i.e. forests that are affected by things like forest fires, insects, and pathogens). It is common in my field to use the term "material legacy" to describe "stuff" that is left behind after a disturbance (like the seeds that remain after a wild fire). The word "legacy" implies that the materials in question existed pre-disturbance and then persisted afterwards; however, I am trying to come up with a term that describes structures that were not there before the disturbance, but are actually generated by the disturbance.

I've jokingly been using "spawn," but I don't think that will fly in a publication. I've also tested out "material currency" but I'm not sure if that's quite it either. Any ideas?

  • Possibly 'mutation' (a brought-about change) in the general sense would do ... but of course genetics has largely hijacked the term. Mar 7, 2022 at 15:01
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    What's wrong with "new material" or "new structures"? Using simple, well-understood terms is usually the best way to go. Mar 7, 2022 at 15:50
  • How about "new ecosystem states" as found in this relevant article: esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/fee.1311
    – Lambie
    Mar 7, 2022 at 17:02
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    "Material legacy" does both describe what's left behind after a disturbance, and imply the material existed before. However, structures that were not there before, but actually generated by the disturbance would not be antonymous; merely different. Could you re-phrase the Question to ignore or explain how what you describe could be an antonym of "legacy"? Mar 7, 2022 at 18:41
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    Afaik, you can use legacy to describe the effects of something that didn't pre-exist as well.
    – The Z
    Apr 6, 2022 at 21:46

4 Answers 4


Perhaps you could use other phrases like "disturbance contribution" or "residual effects" or "permanent changes" that could convey various nuances of meaning - as opposed to "material legacy" (that you essentially define as "unaffected residue").


You might use 'consequential' to include those things that "were not there before the disturbance, but are actually generated by the disturbance".

So,perhaps, consequential fallout, where fallout is understood as

the (typically adverse or unexpected) consequences of an action or event (OED)


When speaking about materials that exist in the current point in time you can use the word "contemporary" (i.e. contemporary material). Conveniently, it also works when speaking about something in the past tense so long as the point in time is not ambiguous.

If you are fine with compound words, I would honestly just go with "post-disturbance" material, as it is clear, unambiguous, and uses terminology that is already defined.

It's not clear whether you're looking for a noun or an adjective, but it you're looking for a noun then you can probably use a more anthropomorphic term like "progeny".


"Materialise" or "materialised" will do nicely. "Materialise" means come into being; become reality.

Another phrase "churned out" can also be used. To churn out something means to produce large quantities of it very quickly.

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