MPAs and Connectivity
This project aims to quantify the relative importance of connectivity relative to other ecological selection criteria and its added benefits (e.g. spillover) and to identify economic benefits that may be derived by incorporating connectivity into management decisions. For selected MPANs, we will conduct cost-benefit analyses to investigate the trade-offs between either prioritizing connectivity as a criterion for MPA site selection over other characteristics such as representativity, key species and habitats only.
Although population connectivity is an ecological criterion particularly relevant for networks of MPAs (MPAN), its use in designating them has been limited. Specifically, there are instances where population connectivity can be pivotal in the decision-making process, particularly for MPAs with limited self-recruitment or where a viable population size exceeds that proposed to receive protection. The enhanced economic benefits from the inclusion of connectivity in the management decisions (rather than excluding it) can then be quantified, but such research is still lacking. An added complication is that future patterns in connectivity are unlikely to be similar to current ones, particularly under climate change scenarios, making “temporal connectivity” a critical yet unstudied element of conservation planning.
The ultimate goal will be to identify scenarios where connectivity considerations should be prioritized, including rules of thumb that link the spatial extent of planning to different connectivity life histories (i.e. differing connectivity for various species types). Also, we will examine any trade-offs between protected places that represent key features (including connectivity) in the present versus the future, and the impact of different MPAN scenarios on current and future human uses.
Project Deliverables / Achievements
Evaluation of management plans for ~760 MPAs and 12 MPA networks globally is completed.
MarxanConnect, the newly developed tool for calculating connectivity, is launched.
Project members directly involved DFO Marine Protection Areas planning through reports and participation in Technical Advisory Committees and CSAS meetings.
Publication on integrating connectivity in MPA design.