What was the most important lesson learned about eruption impacts?

The survival of plants and animals in the midst of the apparent total devastation was of special interest to the scientific community. Early studies have demonstrated that, even after a large-scale, catastrophic disturbance, recovery processes are strongly influenced by carryover of living and dead organic material from pre-disturbance ecosystems. At Mount St. Helens ecosystem recovery was influenced not only by the survival of plants and animals, but also by the tremendous quantities of organic material that remained in the standing dead and blown down forest. Scientists call this carryover of living and dead remnants of the pre-eruption ecosystem “biological legacies.”