Many countries are moving from a focus on individual MPAs to MPA networks because of the ability of MPA networks to achieve conservation goals more effectively and efficiently than individual MPAs. Networks can protect species that move across different habitats during different life stages. They can be created at varying spatial scales, depending on their conservation objective.

The role of ecological connectivity in the effective design and management of marine protected area (MPA) networks is gaining attention in the field of marine conservation. This document published by the NOAA provides an introduction to ecological connectivity in MPAs while highlighting information needed to fully capitalize on this important ecological process for more effective and resilient MPAs.

It is concluded that incorporating ecological connectivity into the design and management of MPA networks offers a powerful opportunity to leverage a fundamental and wide-spread ecological process. It is highlighted that broadening the focus of MPAs from the protected places themselves to include the ecological processes that sustain them over time is a crucial next step towards designing more effective MPAs and conserving the ecosystem services they provide.

Cannizo et al. (2020) Ecological connectivity for marine protected areas. Marine Protected Areas, NOAA.