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Emerging pests and pathogens as a novel lens for unravelling social-ecological cascades


Emerging pests and pathogens (EPPs) are an increasingly disruptive force to human society that can cause large social and ecological changes far beyond their initial site of emergence. Three forces contribute to this growing challenge now and in the foreseeable future: first, potential EPPs are more likely to come in to first contact with human habitats as human land use expands. Second, denser human trade and travel networks mean that EPPs are more likely to emerge in new regions. Third, human technology, such as biocidal agents, increases risks for re-emergence. Understanding how EPPs cascade across scales in social-ecological systems is therefore an urgent priority, but no formal approach currently exists for analysing the ripple effects at scale, from their seeding to their lasting societal imprints. This project aims to fill this gap in sustainability science for society.

The INFLUX project will test the hypothesis that EPPs commonly cascade to interact with large-scale social and environmental challenges and that small differences in social-ecological conditions in turn influence the likelihood and nature of EPP cascades. I will test this hypothesis by leveraging a comparative, mixed-methods research design to assemble a large database for up to 1600 EPPs, encompassing microbial pathogens as well as arthropod and plant pests. Specifically, four objectives will be pursued, which are to understand:

1. The drivers of emergence risk and their connections to human environmental sustainability and social conditions.
2. The types of cascades that result from action aimed at governing EPPs.
3. The lasting impacts EPPs have on societies and the conditions under which they arise.
4. The feedbacks from 3.-1. including through implications for social equity and environmental sustainability.

INFLUX constitutes a major step in situating EPPs in the field of sustainability science, and for developing societal capacity to navigate a future characterized by them


Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 705,00
Universitetsvagen 10
10691 Stockholm

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Östra Sverige Stockholm Stockholms län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00