Biodiversity represents the core of the natural capital, and as such needs to be quantified and followed over time. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a major tool for biodiversity conservation at sea. Monitoring of both species and habitat diversity in MPAs is therefore mandatory and must include both inventory and periodic surveillance activities.

This viewpoint paper discusses on biodiversity monitoring in MPAs based on experiences in Italian MPAs, expanding and updating previous contributions.

It is stated that species inventory should be commeasured to investigation effort, while habitat inventory should be based on mapping. Both inventories may profit from suitability spatial modelling. The authors highlight that periodic surveillance actions should privilege conspicuous species and priority habitat. They also stress the importance of obtaining periodic inventories and mapping to assess changes over time, which according to the authors are rarely carried out.

The authors concluded that time series are of prime importance to detect marine ecosystem change even in the absence of direct human impacts.

Bianchi et al. (2022) Biodiversity monitoring in Mediterranean marine protected areas: scientific and methodological challenges. Diversity DOI 0.3390/d14010043.