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Alternative futures for global biological invasions

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Roura-Pascual, Núria ; Leung, Brian ; Rabitsch, Wolfgang ; Rutting, Lucas ; Vervoort, Joost ; Bacher, Sven ; Dullinger, Stefan ; Erb, Karl-Heinz ; Jeschke, Jonathan M.; Katsanevakis, Stelios ; Kühn, Ingolf ; Lenzner, Bernd ; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Obersteiner, Michael ; Pauchard, Anibal ; Peterson, Garry D.; Roy, Helen E.; Seebens, Hanno ; Winter, Marten ; Burgman, Mark A.; Genovesi, Piero ; Hulme, Philip E.; Keller, Reuben P.; Latombe, Guillaume ; McGeoch, Melodie A.; Ruiz, Gregory M.; Scalera, Riccardo ; Springborn, Michael R.; von Holle, Betsy ; Essl, Franz

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Sustainability Science


Scenario analysis has emerged as a key tool to analyze complex and uncertain future socio-ecological developments. However, currently existing global scenarios (narratives of how the world may develop) have neglected biological invasions, a major threat to biodiversity and the economy. Here, we use a novel participatory process to develop a diverse set of global biological invasion scenarios spanning a wide range of plausible global futures through to 2050. We adapted the widely used "two axes" scenario analysis approach to develop four families of four scenarios each, resulting in 16 scenarios that were later clustered into four contrasting sets of futures. Our analysis highlights that socioeconomic developments and technological innovation have the potential to shape biological invasions, in addition to well-known drivers, such as climate and human land use change and global trade. Our scenarios partially align with the shared socioeconomic pathways created by the climate change research community. Several factors that drive differences in biological invasions were underrepresented in the shared socioeconomic pathways; in particular, the implementation of biosecurity policies. We argue that including factors related to public environmental awareness and technological and trade development in global scenarios and models is essential to adequately consider biological invasions in global environmental assessments and thereby obtain a more integrative picture of future social–ecological developments.


Alien species; Biodiversity models; Environmental scenarios; Future narratives; Global environmental change; Impacts; Management


Roura-Pascual, Núria; Leung, Brian; Rabitsch, Wolfgang; Rutting, Lucas; Vervoort, Joost; Bacher, Sven; Dullinger, Stefan; Erb, Karl-Heinz; Jeschke, Jonathan M.; Katsanevakis, Stelios; Kühn, Ingolf; Lenzner, Bernd; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Obersteiner, Michael; Pauchard, Anibal; Peterson, Garry D.; Roy, Helen E.; Seebens, Hanno; Winter, Marten; Burgman, Mark A.; Genovesi, Piero; Hulme, Philip E.; Keller, Reuben P.; Latombe, Guillaume; McGeoch, Melodie A.; Ruiz, Gregory M.; Scalera, Riccardo; Springborn, Michael R.; von Holle, Betsy; Essl, Franz. 2021. Alternative futures for global biological invasions. Sustainability Science. 16(5): 1637-1650.

Last updated on: September 21, 2021