A new publication from several of us associated with the Novus biogeochemical disturbance RCN just came out, and it presents some really interesting hypotheses about how ecosystems track disturbances over long periods of time. In particular, we looked across a diverse set of systems and hypothesize that the ratio of various nutrient stocks (and their locations) can be used to track recovery. This is significant because it would allow for one to assess biogeochemical stock change over long periods of time, independent of aboveground vegetation recovery. For example, the forest may recover but nitrogen stocks are often elevated (in western forests) due to early successional N-fixing species. If disturbances occur before those ratios resolve, we should get increasing N levels over multiple disturbance events - hard to track from aboveground composition, as it's a longer time scale - but significant in that it affects recovery rates in the future. It's seen as a good way to link the paleo view of ecosystem disturbances (long time spans, focus on regimes and climate) and the "neo" view (short time spans, focused on species and trajectories).
Kranabetter JM, KK McLauchlan, SK Enders, JM Fraterrigo, PE Higuera, JL Morris, EB Rastetter, R Barnes, B Buma, DG Gavin, LM Gerhart, L Gillson, P Hietz, MC Mack, B McNeil, S Perakis. 2015. A framework to assess biogeochemical response to ecosystem disturbance using nutrient partitioning ratios. Ecosystems. In press.