Since 1991, researchers from approximately 45 nations have participated in eight International Conferences on Serpentine Ecology (ICSE). The Conferences are coordinated by the International Serpentine Ecology Society (ISES), a formal research society whose members study geological, pedological, biological and applied aspects of ultramafic (serpentine) ecosystems worldwide. These conferences have provided an international forum to discuss and synthesise multidisciplinary research, and have provided opportunities for scientists in distinct fields and from different regions of the world to conduct collaborative and interdisciplinary research. The 8th ICSE was hosted by Sabah Parks in Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, and attracted the largest delegation to date, 174 participants from 31 countries. This was the first time an ICSE was held in Asia, a region that hosts some of the world’s most biodiverse ultramafic ecosystems. The presentations provided a cross-section of the current status of research in all aspects of ultramafic-biota relations. In this Special Issue of Australian Journal of Botany (Issues 1–2 combined and 3–4 combined), we have compiled a selection of papers from among the oral and poster presentations to provide insights into recent advances in geoecological and applied studies of ultramafic habitats worldwide. Here we provide a preview of select papers found in this Special Issue and summarise some of the contributions made during the 8th ICSE and describe some of the exciting challenges awaiting future research.



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The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT15060.

NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Nishanta Rajakaruna was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.

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