Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a primary management tool for mitigating threats to marine biodiversity. However, MPAs and the species they protect are being increasingly impacted by climate change.

This study evaluated how may MPAs be impacted by climate change taking into account business-as-usual emissions (RCP8.5).

The obtained results show that, despite local protections, the warming associated with continued emissions (RCP8.5) will likely result in further habitat and species loses throughout low-latitude and tropical MPAs.

The authors state their support to the rapid expansion of fully protected MPAs; however, underline that their findings highlight the critical caveat that local protection is necessary but insufficient to conserve and restore marine biotas.

It is concluded that without drastic reductions in carbon emissions, ocean warming, acidification and oxygen depletion in the twenty-first century will in all likelihood disrupt the composition and functioning of the ecosystems currently protected within the world’s MPAs. The community and ecosystem-level impacts of climate change threaten to negate decades of progress in conservation and further imperil species and ecosystems that are already in jeopardy.

Bruno et al. (2018) Climate change threatens the world’s marine protected areas. Nature Climate Change 8:499-503.