Cross-fertilization brings new solutions: Stephan Hättenschwiler and Frank Hagedorn lead new specialty on Forest Soils

Driving an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of soils in adapting to climate change and biodiversity loss is the aim of this new specialty in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, led by Stephan Hättenschwiler and Frank Hagedorn.

Interdisciplinary inquiry brings fresh insights

Stephan Hattenschwiler, Chief Editor of Forest Soils

Stephan Hattenschwiler

“Many scientific disciplines have their roots in soils, but their newest insights are dispersed in many different outlets often read only by each specific community. One major goal of our section is to embrace the diversity of disciplines to facilitate communication and incite cross-fertilization among communities of research disciplines by attracting top papers from within and across a variety of fields,” says Chief Editor Stephan Hättenschwiler. 

“This is important because with the increasing problems humanity is facing with ongoing climate change and biodiversity loss, I think connecting different fields of research and interdisciplinary thinking will yield novel insight, which might be a key to better understand the role of soils in the development of alternative management strategies.”

“There are many challenges associated with soils, but perhaps the most relevant is the understanding of the variation in soil biodiversity at different spatial and temporal scales, its drivers, and how it determines ecosystem function and services,” continues Stephan Hättenschwiler.

Frank Hagedorn, Chief Editor of Forest Soils

Frank Hagedorn

Soils are central to the study of ecosystems 

“Soils represent the unseen ‘dark’ side of forest ecosystems and despite their central importance for the lives of trees and their response to global change, soils frequently remain forgotten in ecosystem studies and thus, many of the processes that take place in soils are still poorly understood,” says Frank Hagedorn.

With changing environmental conditions and biodiversity due to human activity, it is a critical time to understand how forest soils will be affected. This will provide valuable insight into the ramifications of the interlinked stocks of carbon and nutrients in forest soils and fluxes of carbon and nutrients with the atmosphere and biosphere.

Staying grounded

Both Chief Editors were inspired by the physical beauty of forests and landscapes to start their work on soils. For Frank Hagedorn, the physical work-out during the sampling of soils in beautiful places all around the globe, the creativity in the design of custom-made experimental set-ups and finally, the challenge in analysing soils through the use of novel techniques drive his passion for soils. Stephan Hättenschwiler‘s curiosity into the hidden information held in forests, especially their soils, has continued to motivate his research.

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Frontiers journals have some of the highest citation rates. Among the world’s 20 largest publishers in 2017, Frontiers ranks 4th most-cited with an average of 3.65 citations per article.  In total, Frontiers articles have received more than 700,000 citations to date.