In this post, Associate Editor Akira Mori gives his personal perspective on organizing the recent Special Feature: Forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.

One day, I suddenly got an idea to organize a Special Feature, which has a deep focus on several key terms of my research topics from the last several years. These key terms include biodiversity, climate change, ecosystem function, ecosystem services, and most importantly, “forest”. Although study systems for my ongoing research projects are now quite diverse – including dry grasslands, wet meadows, high-arctic tundra and so on, forests have been my primary study system since my undergraduate study.

Forests harbour an enormous number of terrestrial species.

Biodiversity and ecosystem services are key terms in applied ecology, not only limited to forest studies. Regarding these and associated themes, I have been thinking that there might be some lags in the domain of forest ecology (as described in our review). Personally, I feel it is important to recognize knowledge gaps to be able to further advance applied forest ecology. Such thoughts have gradually become clear and certain in my mind and this was the first motivation for me to organize this Special Feature. In parallel, there has been a novel advancement in forest ecology, which may have been less recognized by scholars primarily studying non-forest systems (also, described in our review). My second motivation is to shed light on these novel studies so as to attract attention from people including those who are not necessarily familiar with forest ecosystems.

Forests provide essential ecosystem goods and services (such as timber).

So, my intension is not only to highlight innovative studies conducted in forests but also to stimulate knowledge exchange and communication between people (including scholars and practitioners) specialized in different sub-disciplines of ecology. For these reasons, I paid special attention to ensure diversity for the Special Feature in terms of topics, tools, approaches, study regions and, most importantly, authors (as described in the Editorial). As such, the Special Feature benefits from diverse contributions by diverse scholars based in different parts of the globe. I would like to again note that, although there is a specific focus on forests as a primary study system, I believe that these novel articles are informative and insightful to a wide range of people.

I briefly introduced novelties of the contributions in the Editorial. Here, in this blog post, I can express something different from such an official commentary piece. Importantly, I have learned a lot from these studies and how ignorant I have been. It has been really great to organize this Special Feature and to communicate with the authors. So, the third, and my greatest motivation has been to work with scholars in different regions of the globe. It has been a real pleasure for me.

Bridging gaps between people is important, in particular for applied science. Applied ecology has much to be done in this regard. As I enjoyed putting it together, I hope that this Special Feature will play an important role to stimulate interchange and communication between people.