University Of Tasmania
Abelson_et_al Edgar 2016 Expanding MPAs to include degraded reefs.pdf (736.43 kB)
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Expanding marine protected areas to include degraded coral reefs

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 01:45 authored by Abelson, A, Nelson, PA, Graham EdgarGraham Edgar, Shashar, N, Reed, DC, Belmaker, J, Krause, G, Beck, MW, Brokovich, E, France, R, Gaines, SD
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a commonly applied solution to coral reef degradation, yet coral reefs continue to decline worldwide. We argue that expanding the range of MPAs to include degraded reefs (DR-MPA) could help reverse this trend. This approach requires new ecological criteria for MPA design, siting, and management. Rather than focusing solely on preserving healthy reefs, our approach focuses on the potential for biodiversity recovery and renewal of ecosystem services. The new criteria would help identify sites with the highest potential for recovery and the greatest resistance to future threats (e.g., increased temperature and acidification) and sites that contribute to MPA connectivity. The DR-MPA approach is a compliment rather than a substitute for traditional MPA design approaches. We believe that the DR-MPA approach can enhance the natural, or restoration-assisted, recovery of DRs and their ecosystem services; increase total reef area available for protection; promote more resilient and better-connected MPA networks; and improve conditions for human communities dependent on MPA ecosystem services.


Australian Research Council

Department of Parks and Wildlife (Western Australia)

Dept of Environment & Natural Resources South Australia

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water

Parks Victoria

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service


Publication title

Conservation Biology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Blackwell Publishing Inc

Place of publication

350 Main St, Malden, USA, Ma, 02148

Rights statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Marine biodiversity