Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are privileged places to study the effects of global changes. They provide a valuable reference on the state and functioning of marine ecosystems, as they are not subject to most of the disturbances that affect many marine areas. In addition, the regulation of activities within these areas mean that studies can be designed to assess the effects of different type of disturbances and the effectiveness of management measures.

In 2013, IUCN Mediterranean and SPA/RAC led the publication of the MPA management tool: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and climate change: A guide to regional monitoring and adaptation opportunities. Since then, research on the subject has been continuing and today a number of projects are unfolding in the Mediterranean:

MIMOSA project
MIMOSA “Are MedIterranean Marine prOtected areaS efficient against wArming effects?” is a project funded by Prince Albert II de Monaco Foundation and executed by the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) from the Spanish Research Council (Spain) in collaboration with the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences (UB) from the University of Barcelona (Spain), Laboratoire des Sciences de l’Information et des Systèmes (LSIS – UMR 7296 CNRS) from the Aix-Marseille University (France), Parc Régional de Corse (PNRC) Réserve Naturelle de Scandola (France) and Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie (INAT, Tunisia).

In this project researchers are working on how to improve the management of MPAs in the face of climate change. The work is located in 3 emblematic MPAs (Medes Islands Natural Park, Scandola natural reserve and Zembra Archipelago National Park)., in which three specific habitat forming Anthozoans of the coralligenous is studied: red coral, Corallium rubrum, the red gorgonian Paramuricea clavata and the coral Astroides calycularis. State of populations through genetic and demographic analyzes are studied, along with analyzes of past, present and future temperature conditions. This information, coupled with the results of the thermotolerance experiments, will provide an idea of the vulnerability of populations to the expected warming in each MPA, which should guide management actions in order to minimize the impacts or increase the response capacity of the populations.

MPA-Adapt project

The MPA-Adapt project (“Guiding Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas through the climate change era: Building resilience and adaptation”) is focused on developing collaborative and site-specific adaptation plans for MPAs through capacity building events, development of risk assessments and an investigation of the potential actions and priorities needed to ensure the adaptability and the resilience of biodiversity and local communities, including fishermen and other stakeholders. The project is led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and involves seven other partners from the Mediterranean basin: the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), IUCN Centre for Mediterranean CooperationPublic Institution Brijuni National Park (Croatia), Marine Protected Area Pelagie Islands – Management Body Municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa (Italy), Consortium of Management of Portofino MPA (Italy), National Park of Port-Cros (France), and the Corsican Agency for Environment (France). The project runs from November 2016 to May 2019 and is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Med Programme.

Among other activities, this project will see the development of protocols for monitoring climate change: temperature, mortality, indicator fish populations. These protocols will be made available on paper and through video tutorials along with a collaborative database and data analysis tools. The project will also update the functionality of T-Mednet to improve exchanges with MPA managers.