Alien Futures: What is on the horizon for biological invasions?

Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, Thomas Boivin, Franz Essl, Quentin J. Groom, Laura Jane Harrison, Julia M. Touza, Helen Bayliss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To collect and identify the issues that may affect the future global and local management of biological invasions in the next 20 to 50 years and provide guidance for the prioritisation of actions and policies responding to the management challenges of the future.
We used an open online survey to poll specialists and stakeholders from around the world as to their opinion on the three most important future issues both globally and at their respective local working level.
The 240 respondents identified 629 global issues that we categorised into topics. We summarised the highest rated topics into five broad thematic areas: (1) environmental change, particularly climate change, (2) the spread of species through trade, (3) public awareness, (4) the development of new technologies to enhance management, and (5) the need to strengthen policies. The respondents also identified 596 issues at their respective local working levels. Management, early detection, prevention and funding-related issues all ranked higher than at the global level. Our global audience of practitioners, policy makers and researchers also elicited topics not identified in horizon scanning exercises led by scientists including potential human health impacts, the need for better risk assessments and legislation, the role of human migration and water management.
Main conclusions
The topic areas identified in this horizon scan provide guidance where future policy priorities for invasive alien species should be set. First, to reduce the magnitude and speed of environmental change and its impacts on biological invasions; second, to restrict the movement of potentially invasive alien species via trade; third, to raise awareness with the general public and empower them to act; and finally, to invest in innovative technologies that can detect and mitigate adverse impacts of introduced species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1157
Number of pages9
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number8
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are very grateful to all participants in our survey, the people that helped with the distribution of the survey link, and to Dr Nikolaï Shalovenkov for the Russian translation and dissemination of the survey. Quentin Groom would like to acknowledge funding from the Belgian Science Policy Office under the Tracking Alien Invasive Species (TrIAS) project (BR/165/A1/TrIAS).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • biological invasions
  • future direction
  • global survey
  • horizon scanning
  • invasive alien species
  • management
  • prioritization

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