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1167502_Roura-Pascual,N_2021.pdf (9.28 MB)

Alternative futures for global biological invasions

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-12-07, 00:42 authored by N Roura-Pascual, B Leung, W Rabitsch, L Rutting, J Vervoort, S Bacher, S Dullinger, KH Erb, JM Jeschke, S Katsanevakis, I Kühn, B Lenzner, AM Liebhold, M Obersteiner, A Pauchard, GD Peterson, HE Roy, H Seebens, M Winter, MA Burgman, P Genovesi, PE Hulme, RP Keller, G Latombe, Melodie McGeochMelodie McGeoch, GM Ruiz, R Scalera, MR Springborn, B von Holle, F Essl
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.


This research was funded through the COST Action "Alien Challenge" [Grant number TD1209]; the 2017-2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND programme, and with the funding organisations AEI, FWF and BMBF [grant numbers AEI PCI2018-092966 (NRP)/FWF project 4011-B32 (FE, SD, GL, BeL)/BMBF projects 01LC1807A (HS) and 01LC1807B (JMJ)]; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [grant numbers InDyNet, JE 288/8-1; JE 288/9-1, 9-2 (JMJ)/via iDiv FZT 118, 202548816 (MW)]; OP RDE grant EVA4.0 [grant number CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000803] (AML); CONICYT [grant number AFB170008] (AP); UK-SCAPE programme, Natural Environment Research Council [grant number NE/R016429/1] (HER).


Publication Date



Sustainability Science






(p. 1637-1650)





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© The Author(s) 2021 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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