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Workshop Aim

Water flows through ecosystems via interacting pathways, along which nutrients are mobilized, transported and retained. The spatio-temporal interactions and feedbacks between ecological systems and the hydrological cycle as well as between biogeochemical and plant physiological processes occurring within the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum are difficult to observe directly. However, a better understanding of these linkages is necessary to reliably predict future changes in water and nutrient fluxes and their impacts on ecosystem characteristics such as plant growth, productivity and mortality. Negative effects due to altered climatic conditions on water resources and nutrient fluxes in different ecosystems are already being observed. The importance of studying ecosystem water and nutrient fluxes has been recognized in the scientific community but hydrologists, soil scientists and ecosystem physiologists conventionally study water and nutrient fluxes separately within their disciplines using different tools and concepts. However, tracers (e.g. stable and radioactive isotopes or artificial tracers) provide a cross-disciplinary toolset for measuring water and nutrient fluxes through different ecosystems. Cross-disciplinary tracer studies act as a unifying theme around which cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research across interconnected systems could grow. Our workshop aims at connecting different disciplines to foster interdisciplinary discussion, highlight open questions and open new opportunities for collaborative research. This helps to overcome shared research gaps and generate a more holistic view of water and nutrient fluxes in diverse ecosystems that is needed given the rapid change in climatic conditions that we face today.