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Introduction: Our understanding of the long-term ecological consequences of ecosystems disturbances has increased dramatically in the last two decades. The expansion in knowledge has been fueled by recent large and intense natural disturbances that have provided scientists with extraordinary opportunities to thoroughly investigate impacts and recovery processes associated with such disturbances. These disturbances events include the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980 (Franklin et al. 1984; Franklin, Frenzen, and Swanson 1996). Yellowstone forest fires of 1988 (Christensen et al. 1989) and Hurricane Hugo of 1989 (Walker et al. 1991) and Andrew of 1992 (Pimm et al. 1994). Experiments and long-term observation by scientists at Long Term Ecological Research (LER) sites have contributed substantially to these investigations.