The siting of protected areas to achieve management and conservation objectives draws heavily on biogeographic concepts of the spatial distribution and connectivity of species. However, the marine protected area (MPA) literature rarely acknowledges how biogeographic theories underpin MPA and MPA network design.

This paper reviews which theories from biogeography have been incorporated into marine spatial planning and which relevant concepts have yet to be translated to inform the next generation of design principles.

The study shows how biogeographic principles suggest concrete and novel recommendations for MPA design, including the protection of areas that are predicted to aggregate species in this century, and the establishment of massive MPA networks at scales comparable to the geographic ranges of species of interest.

The authors highlight that this biogeographic perspective will only become more relevant as climate change amplifies these spatial and temporal dynamics, and as species begin to shift in and out of existing MPAs.

Altogether, this study presents a number of design elements that could improve the success of MPAs and MPA networks in light of biogeographic processes and climate change. The authors suggest that biogeographically informed MPA networks of the future may resemble the habitat corridors currently being considered for many terrestrial regions.

Fredston-Hermann A, Gaines SD, Halpern BS (2018) Biogeographic constraints to marine conservation in a changing climate. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1111/nyas.13597