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Alternative futures for global biological invasions


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



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


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.


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.


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