Marine reserves are widely used to protect species important for conservation and fisheries and to help maintain ecological processes that sustain their populations, including recruitment and dispersal; requiring well-connected networks that maximize larval connectivity. Global warming can disrupt connectivity by shortening potential dispersal pathways through changes in larval physiology, potentially compromising the performance of marine reserve networks, thus requiring adjusting their design to account for ocean warming.

This study developed a framework for designing marine reserve networks that integrates changes in larval connectivity due to potential reductions in planktonic larval duration (PLD) associated with global warming, given current socioeconomic constraints.

The obtained results indicate that current larval connectivity could be reduced significantly under ocean warming because of shortened PLDs and the authors state that their theoretical approach can help design better-connected marine reserve networks for the future with equivalent costs.

It is highlighted that the results support previous studies suggesting that, given potential reductions in PLD due to warming, future marine reserve networks would require more and/or larger reserves in closer proximity to maintain larval connectivity.

Álvarez‐Romero JG, Munguía‐Vega A, Beger M, et al. (2018) Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming. Global Change Biology 24:e671–e691