As plans for space exploration and commercial use expand rapidly, biosecurity measures and risk assessments that inform them must adapt. Sophisticated protocols are required to prevent biological contamination of extraterrestrial environments from Earth and vice versa. Such protocols should be informed by research on biological invasions—human-assisted spread of organisms into novel environments—which has revealed, inter alia, that (1) invasion risk is driven by the timing and frequency of introduction events, whose control requires addressing the least secure human activities associated with organismal transport; (2) invasions and their impacts are difficult to predict, because these phenomena are governed by context dependencies involving traits of the organism and the receiving environment; and (3) early detection and rapid response are crucial for prevention but undermined by taxonomic methods that fail to recognize what is “alien” versus what is native. Collaboration among astrobiologists, invasion biologists, and policymakers could greatly enhance planetary biosecurity protocols.

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