, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 541–548 | Cite as

Novel Organisms: Comparing Invasive Species, GMOs, and Emerging Pathogens

  • Jonathan M. Jeschke
  • Felicia Keesing
  • Richard S. Ostfeld


Invasive species, range-expanding species, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic organisms, and emerging pathogens increasingly affect the human environment. We propose a framework that allows comparison of consecutive stages that such novel organisms go through. The framework provides a common terminology for novel organisms, facilitating knowledge exchange among researchers, managers, and policy makers that work on, or have to make effective decisions about, novel organisms. The framework also indicates that knowledge about the causes and consequences of stage transitions for the better studied novel organisms, such as invasive species, can be transferred to more poorly studied ones, such as GMOs and emerging pathogens. Finally, the framework advances understanding of how climate change can affect the establishment, spread, and impacts of novel organisms, and how biodiversity affects, and is affected by, novel organisms.


Biological invasions Ecological novelty Emerging diseases Genetically modified organisms Range-expanding species Synthetic organisms 



JMJ thanks Wolf-Christian Saul and Mark van Kleunen for discussions about novel organisms, and Sara Hammerstein and Justyna Wolinska for discussions about pathogens. He acknowledges financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; JE 288/4-1). FK and RSO thank the National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for support. Paul Ewald, Brendon Larson, Gary Lovett, Wolf-Christian Saul, and anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan M. Jeschke
    • 1
    • 2
  • Felicia Keesing
    • 3
  • Richard S. Ostfeld
    • 2
  1. 1.Technische Universität München, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementRestoration EcologyFreising-WeihenstephanGermany
  2. 2.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA
  3. 3.Bard CollegeAnnandale-on-HudsonUSA

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