The Mediterranean marine region is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities due to the high occurrence of rare and threatened species, endemism and high species richness. However, several pressures are ongoing and in order to increase conservation in this region, many marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established. In addition, species conservation status is also assessed through IUNC (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

This study tested whether IUCN Red List and the related Red List Index (RLI, which aggregates in a single value all the information on conservation status of a particular set of species) can be used as a metrics to characterize MPAs, and orienting marine conservation policies. For this purpose, a pilot study was undertaken in six Sicilian MPAs.

The results showed that Egadi Island had the lowest RLI value (meaning that the MPA hosts many species with a threatened status) while Capo Gallo MPA, at the opposite, held the highest RLI values (i.e., less threatened species).

The authors conclude that the outcomes of the study show that IUCN indicators should be considered as a tool to: assess the conservation status of species in protected areas, drive prioritization in the decision process in order to support an effective management conservation plan and designate new MPAs.

Crosti et al. (2020) Assessing worth of marine protected areas for the protection of threatened biodiversity using IUCN Red List and Red List Index. A pilot study in six Mediterranean areas. Ecological Indicators 119: 106765.