Long-term ecological research is particularly valuable for understanding disturbance dynamics over long time periods and placing those dynamics in a regional context. We highlighted three case studies from Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network sites that have contributed to understanding the causes and consequences of disturbance in ecological systems. The LTER Network significantly enhances the ability to study disturbance by (a) encompassing ecosystems subject to a wide range of disturbances, (b) providing a long-term baseline against which to detect change and measure ecosystem responses to disturbance, (c) permitting observation of slow or infrequent events, (d) facilitating the use of multiple research approaches, (e) providing a focus for modeling disturbance dynamics, and (f) contributing to land and resource management. Long-term research is crucial to understanding past, present, and future disturbance dynamics, and the LTER Network is poised to make continuing contributions to the understanding of disturbance.
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Vol. 53 • No. 1