One goal of global marine protected areas (MPAs) is to ensure they represent a breadth of taxonomic biodiversity. Ensuring representation of species in MPAs, however, would require protecting vast areas of the global oceans and does not explicitly prioritize species of conservation concern. When threatened species are considered, a recent study found that only a small fraction of their geographic ranges are within the global MPA network. Which global marine areas, and what conservation actions beyond MPAs could be prioritized to prevent marine extinctions (Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 12), remains unknown. Here, we use systematic conservation planning approaches to prioritize conservation actions for sharks, rays and chimaeras (class Chondrichthyes). We use chondrichthyans as they have the highest proportion of threatened species of any marine class. We find that expanding the MPA network by 3% in 70 nations would cover half of the geographic range of 99 imperilled endemic chondrichthyans. Our hotspot analysis reveals that just 12 nations harbour more than half (53) of the imperilled endemics. Four of these hotspot nations are within the top ten chondrichthyan fishing nations in the world, but are yet to implement basic chondrichthyan fisheries management. Given their geopolitical realities, conservation action for some countries will require relief and reorganization to enable sustainable fisheries and species protection.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $9.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Wood, L. J., Fish, L., Laughren, J. & Pauly, D. Assessing progress towards global marine protection targets: shortfalls in information and action. Oryx 42, 340–351 (2008).
Lubchenco, J. & Grorud-Colvert, K. Making waves: the science and politics of ocean protection. Science 350, 382–383 (2015).
Rodrigues, A. S. L. et al. Effectiveness of the global protected area network in representing species diversity. Nature 428, 9–12 (2004).
Klein, C. J. et al. Shortfalls in the global protected area network at representing marine biodiversity. Sci. Rep. 5, 17539 (2015).
Venter, O. et al. Targeting global protected area expansion for imperiled biodiversity. PLoS Biol. 12, e1001891 (2014).
Butchart, S. H. M. et al. Shortfalls and solutions for meeting national and global conservation area targets. Conserv. Lett. 8, 329–337 (2015).
Le Saout, S. et al. Protected areas and effective biodiversity conservation. Science 342, 803–805 (2013).
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. & Kent, J. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403, 853–858 (2000).
Margules, C. R. & Pressey, R. L. Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405, 243–253 (2000).
Rondinini, C., Wilson, K. A., Boitani, L., Grantham, H. & Possingham, H. P. Tradeoffs of different types of species occurrence data for use in systematic conservation planning. Ecol. Lett. 9, 1136–1145 (2006).
Possingham, H. P. & Wilson, K. A. Turning up the heat on hotspots. Nature 436, 919–920 (2005).
Dulvy, N. K. et al. Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. eLife 3, e00590 (2014).
Hilborn, R. Marine biodiversity needs more than protection. Nature 535, 224–226 (2016).
Shiffman, D. S. & Hammerschlag, N. Preferred conservation policies of shark researchers. Conserv. Biol. 30, 805–815 (2016).
Hoffmann, M. et al. The impact of conservation on the status of the world’s vertebrates. Science 330, 1503–1509 (2010).
Rodrigues, A. S. L. Improving coarse species distribution data for conservation planning in biodiversity-rich, data-poor, regions: no easy shortcuts. Anim. Conserv. 14, 108–110 (2011).
MPAtlas (Marine Conservation Institute, 2016); www.mpatlas.org
Brooks, T. M. et al. Global biodiversity conservation priorities. Science 313, 58–61 (2006).
Ball, I. R., Possingham, H. P. & Watts M. E. in Spatial Conservation Prioritisation: Quantitative Methods and Computational Tools (eds Moilanen, A., Wilson, K. A. & Possingham, H. ) 185–195 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009).
Boonzaier, L. & Pauly, D. Marine protection targets: an updated assessment of global progress. Oryx 50, 1–9 (2015).
Pauly, D. & Zeller, D. Catch Reconstruction: Concepts, Methods and Data Sources (Univ. British Columbia, 2015); www.seaaroundus.org
Dickman, A. J., Hinks, A. E., Macdonald, E. A, Burnham, D. & Macdonald, D. W. Priorities for global felid conservation. Conserv. Biol. 29, 854–864 (2015).
McClanahan, T. R. et al. Identifying reefs of hope and hopeful actions: contextualizing environmental, ecological, and social parameters to respond effectively to climate change. Conserv. Biol. 23, 662–671 (2009).
Devillers, R. et al. Reinventing residual reserves in the sea: are we favouring ease of establishment over need for protection? Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshwat. Ecosyst. 25, 480–504 (2014).
Jones, P. J. S. & Santo, E. M. De . Viewpoint – Is the race for remote, very large marine protected areas (VLMPAs ) taking us down the wrong track? Mar. Policy 73, 231–234 (2016).
Butchart, S. H. M. et al. Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets. PLoS ONE 7, e32529 (2012).
Gell, F. R. & Roberts, C. M. Benefits beyond boundaries: the fishery effects of marine reserves. Trends Ecol. Evol. 18, 448–455 (2003).
Edgar, G. J. et al. Global conservation outcomes depend on marine protected areas with five key features. Nature 506, 216–220 (2014).
Watson, J. E. M., Dudley, N., Segan, D. B. & Hockings, M. The performance and potential of protected areas. Nature 515, 67–73 (2014).
Costello, M. J. & Ballantine, B. Biodiversity conservation should focus on no-take marine reserves: 94% of Marine Protected Areas allow fishing. Trends Ecol. Evol. 30, 507–509 (2015).
Simpfendorfer, C. A. & Dulvy, N. K. Bright spots of sustainable shark fishing. Curr. Biol. (in the press).
Allison, E. H. et al. Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate change on fisheries. Fish Fish. 10, 173–196 (2009).
Turner, B. L. et al. A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 8074–8079 (2003).
Rondinini, C. & Chiozza, F. Quantitative methods for defining percentage area targets for habitat types in conservation planning. Biol. Conserv. 143, 1646–1653 (2010).
Guidelines for Appropriate Uses of IUCN Red List Data: Incorporating the Guidelines for Reporting on Proportion Threatened and the Guidelines on Scientific Collecting of Threatened Species (IUCN, 2011); https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/12734
Kyne, P. M. Extinction risk categories and how to cite them. Mitochondr. DNA A 1394, 508–509 (2016).
Salafsky, N. et al. A standard lexicon for biodiversity conservation: unified classifications of threats and actions. Conserv. Biol. 22, 897–911 (2008).
Roberts, C. M. et al. Marine biodiversity hotspots and conservation priorities for tropical reefs. Science. 295, 1280–1284 (2002).
Davidson, A. D., Boyer, A. G., Kim, H., Pompa-Mansilla, S. & Hamilton, M. J. Drivers and hotspots of extinction risk in marine mammals. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 3395–3400 (2012).
Pompa, S., Ehrlich, P. R. & Ceballos, G. Global distribution and conservation of marine mammals. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 13600–13605 (2011).
Knip, D. M., Heupel, M. R. & Simpfendorfer, C. A. Evaluating Marine Protected Areas for the conservation of tropical coastal sharks. Biol. Conserv. 148, 200–209 (2012).
Daley, R. K., Williams, A., Green, M., Barker, B. & Brodie, P. Can marine reserves conserve vulnerable sharks in the deep sea? A case study of Centrophorus zeehaani (Centrophoridae), examined with acoustic telemetry. Deep Sea Res. II 115, 127–136 (2015).
Heupel, M. R. & Simfendorfer, C. A. Using acoustic monitoring to evaluate MPAs for shark nursery areas: the importance of long-term data. Mar. Technol. Soc. J. 39, 10–18 (2005).
Edgar, G. J. et al. Key biodiversity areas as globally significant target sites for the conservation of marine biological diversity. Aquat. Conserv. 983, 969–983 (2011).
Ban, N. C., Alidina, H. M. & Ardron, J. A. Cumulative impact mapping: advances, relevance and limitations to marine management and conservation, using Canada’s Pacific waters as a case study. Mar. Policy 34, 876–886 (2010).
Eakins, B. W. & Sharman, G. F. Volumes of the World’s Oceans from ETOPO1 (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, 2010); http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/
Davidson, L. N. K., Krawchuk, M. A. & Dulvy, N. K. Why have global shark and ray landings declined: improved management or overfishing? Fish Fish. 17, 438–458 (2016).
We thank all of the IUCN SSG members and all additional experts who have contributed data and their expertise to IUCN Red List assessments. We also thank I. Côté, M. Krawchuk, J. Brogan, J. Bigman, S.V. Fordham (Shark Advocates International), A. Kissel, J. Lawson, C. Mull, R. Murray, S. Pardo, W. Stein, R. Walls, past Dulvy Lab members and Earth to Ocean Research Group. This project was funded by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Research Chairs Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Disney Conservation Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Davidson, L., Dulvy, N. Global marine protected areas to prevent extinctions. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 0040 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-016-0040
Seeing through sedimented waters: environmental DNA reduces the phantom diversity of sharks and rays in turbid marine habitats
BMC Ecology and Evolution (2021)
Scientific Reports (2021)
Highly migratory species predictive spatial modeling (PRiSM): an analytical framework for assessing the performance of spatial fisheries management
Marine Biology (2021)
Marine protected areas are not representative of chondrichthyan species assemblages in the Southwest Atlantic
Biodiversity and Conservation (2021)
Distribution and length composition of lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) in a nursery ground in southern Cuba
Environmental Biology of Fishes (2020)