The current application of ecological connectivity in the design of marine protected areas

For the week of 11 March 2019

Greetings OpenChannels Community Members,

Global Ecology and Conservation has published, The current application of ecological connectivity in the design of marine protected areas, "Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an area-based conservation strategy commonly used to safeguard marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ecological connectivity governs the exchange of individuals among spatially fragmented habitats and is often highlighted as an important element in the design of MPAs. However, the degree to which measured or modelled representations of connectivity are applied to marine management decisions worldwide remains unclear. We reviewed the scientific and management literature to explore the application of connectivity in MPAs located in six countries or regions with advanced marine spatial planning. Only 11% of the 746 MPAs we examined considered connectivity as an ecological criterion, increasingly so since 2007. Landscape measures such as habitat linkages were used most frequently by managers and genetic and modelling approaches by scientists. Of the MPAs that considered connectivity, 71% were for state marine conservation areas or reserves in California and commonwealth marine reserves in Australia. This pattern indicates substantial geographic bias. We propose that the incorporation of connectivity in conservation planning needs to become more accessible to practitioners and provide four recommendations that together will allow scientists and managers to bridge this gap: 1. determine whether to prioritize connectivity as an ecological criterion, 2. identify the role of an MPA in supporting connectivity, 3. identify the appropriate spatial and temporal scale of connectivity, and 4. improve regional knowledge of connectivity patterns. We also propose a framework to facilitate the communication of metrics and patterns of connectivity between scientists and practitioners to apply the best available information in the design and adaptive management of MPAs and networks of MPAs."

As always, if we've missed anything, please feel free to let us know. You may simply reply to this message, or you may email Allie directly at: abrown [at]

You can read everything (not just the free stuff) we have found this week at Additionally, you can browse literature by the week we've added it at

Thank you for being part of the OpenChannels Community,
– Allie Brown, Raye Evrard, and the rest of the OpenChannels Team

Ecosystem Services and Uses

Preprint: Drius, M. et al. Not just a sandy beach. The multi-service value of Mediterranean coastal dunes. Science of The Total Environment (2019). doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.364

Fisheries and Fisheries Management

OA: Voss, R. et al. Ecological-economic sustainability of the Baltic cod fisheries under ocean warming and acidification. Journal of Environmental Management 238, 110 - 118 (2019).

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

OA: Shah, P., Dissanayake, S. T. M., Fujita, Y. & Nunes, P. A. L. D. Impact of a local, coastal community based management regime when defining marine protected areas: Empirical results from a study in Okinawa, Japan. PLOS ONE 14, e0213354 (2019).

OA: Balbar, A. C. & Metaxas, A. The current application of ecological connectivity in the design of marine protected areas. Global Ecology and Conservation e00569 (In Press). doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00569

Natural Sciences

OA: Fox-Kemper, B. et al. Challenges and Prospects in Ocean Circulation Models. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: Wooster, M. K., McMurray, S. E., Pawlik, J. R., Morán, X. A. G. & Berumen, M. L. Feeding and respiration by giant barrel sponges across a gradient of food abundance in the Red Sea. Limnology and Oceanography (2019). doi:10.1002/lno.11151

Pollution and Marine Debris

OA: de Orte, M. Romanó, Clowez, S. & Caldeira, K. Response of bleached and symbiotic sea anemones to plastic microfiber exposure. Environmental Pollution (In Press). doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2019.02.100

OA: Wang, R. & Liu, X. Environmental processes and ecological effects of microplastics in the ocean. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science 227, 052047 (2019).

OA: Roman, L., Hardesty, B. Denise, Hindell, M. A. & Wilcox, C. A quantitative analysis linking seabird mortality and marine debris ingestion. Scientific Reports 9, (2019).

Tools and Data

OA: Amir-Heidari, P. et al. A state-of-the-art model for spatial and stochastic oil spill risk assessment: A case study of oil spill from a shipwreck. Environment International 126, 309 - 320 (2019).


Preprint: Ziegler, J. A. et al. A guilty pleasure: Tourist perspectives on the ethics of feeding whale sharks in Oslob, Philippines. Tourism Management 68, 264 - 274 (2018).

Vessel Traffic and Tracking, Shipping, and Ports

OA: Frantzis, A., Leaper, R., Alexiadou, P., Prospathopoulos, A. & Lekkas, D. Shipping routes through core habitat of endangered sperm whales along the Hellenic Trench, Greece: Can we reduce collision risks?. PLOS ONE 14, e0212016 (2019).