Horizon scanning for future issues affecting invasive species management: call for participants

Invasive alien species are considered to be a major threat to natural ecosystems, biodiversity, agro-ecosystems and urban areas, and the numerous international agreements that recognise their negative effects reflect worldwide concerns.

This is a guest post from Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz of AlienFutures.org.

Invasive Species Management

Invasive alien species are considered to be a major threat to natural ecosystems, biodiversity, agro-ecosystems and urban areas, and the numerous international agreements that recognise their negative effects reflect worldwide concerns. As in other areas of environmental management, policy makers, practitioners and researchers may not be prepared to deal with unexpected issues affecting invasive species spread or impacts. Alien Futures is a new research project collecting and examining issues that may affect the future global and local management of biological invasions. Horizon scanning is the systematic examination of future potential threats, opportunities and likely future developments (Sutherland & Woodroof 2009). Some horizon scanning activities have already been undertaken about invasive species, for example focusing on high risk species (e.g. Roy et al. 2014), specific habitats (Ojaveer et al. 2014), or general issues within European invasion science (e.g. Caffrey et al. 2014).

Buddleja davidii
Buddleja davidii. Photo: Pat Heslop-Harrison.

This project aims to complement these existing activities by exploring the wider environmental, social and technological issues external to invasion ecology that may have implications for the future management of invasive species. During the first phase of the project, we are gathering opinions on the global and local issues that might affect the management of biological invasions in the next 20 – 50 years. We want to explore issues that may emerge and have implications in a more distant future than currently considered in the management of biological invasions. These can be issues which might have positive or negative implications.

We invite people working with or interested in biological invasions to fill in a survey on our website (www.alienfutures.org, survey also available in French and Spanish). We encourage people to think creatively beyond the time frame of their current work. The survey also includes some questions about participants’ background and their interest in biological invasions. It does not gather personally identifiable information. All of the issues identified will be published online on the project webpage. Project outputs will include a long list of global issues, a long list of local issues and a shortlist of global issues. We will make the data available for use and further research, with workshops planned to explore the implications of these issues for policy and management.

Alien Water Hyacinth
Alien Water Hyacinth. Photo: Pat Heslop-Harrison.

We would like to distribute the survey as widely as possible and ask people to share it within their networks. Please contact us if you want an email draft for that (available in English, French and Spanish) at info@alienfutures.org.

You can follow the progress of the project on the website www.alienfutures.org or Twitter at @alienfutures, #alienfutures.

All images by Pat Heslop-Harrison.


Joe Caffrey, Jan-Robert Baars, Jenny Barbour, Pieter Boets, Philip Boon, Keith Davenport, Jaimie Dick, John Early, Lennart Edsman, Cathal Gallagher, Jackson Gross, Petri Heinimaa, Chris Horrill, Stéphanie Hudin, Philip Hulme, Stephen Hynes, Hugh MacIsaac, Paul McLoone, Michael Millane, Toril Moen, Niall Moore, Jonathan Newman, Ruairi O’Conchuir, Martin O’Farrell, Colette O’Flynn, Birgit Oidtmann, Trevor Renals, Anthony Ricciardi, Helen Roy, Richard Shaw, Olaf Weyl, Frances Williams, Frances Lucy, 2014, ‘Tackling Invasive Alien Species in Europe: the top 20 issues’, Management of Biological Invasions, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-20 http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/mbi.2014.5.1.01

Henn Ojaveer, 2014, ‘Identifying the top issues of marine invasive alien species in Europe’, Management of Biological Invasions, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 81-84 http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/mbi.2014.5.2.01

Helen E. Roy, Jodey Peyton, David C. Aldridge, Tristan Bantock, Tim M. Blackburn, Robert Britton, Paul Clark, Elizabeth Cook, Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, Trevor Dines, Michael Dobson, François Edwards, Colin Harrower, Martin C. Harvey, Dan Minchin, David G. Noble, Dave Parrott, Michael J. O. Pocock, Chris D. Preston, Sugoto Roy, Andrew Salisbury, Karsten Schönrogge, Jack Sewell, Richard H. Shaw, Paul Stebbing, Alan J. A. Stewart, Kevin J. Walker, 2014, ‘Horizon scanning for invasive alien species with the potential to threaten biodiversity in Great Britain’, Global Change Biology, vol. 20, no. 12, pp. 3859-3871 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12603

William J. Sutherland, Harry J. Woodroof, 2009, ‘The need for environmental horizon scanning’, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol. 24, no. 10, pp. 523-527 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.04.008