Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

Frontiers in Marine Science






Marine protected areas (MPAs), particularly large MPAs, are increasing in number and size around the globe in part to facilitate the conservation of marine megafauna under the assumption that large-scale MPAs better align with vagile life histories; however, this alignment is not well established. Using a global tracking dataset from 36 species across five taxa, chosen to reflect the span of home range size in highly mobile marine megafauna, we show most MPAs are too small to encompass complete home ranges of most species. Based on size alone, 40% of existing MPAs could encompass the home ranges of the smallest ranged species, while only < 1% of existing MPAs could encompass those of the largest ranged species. Further, where home ranges and MPAs overlapped in real geographic space, MPAs encompassed < 5% of core areas used by all species. Despite most home ranges of mobile marine megafauna being much larger than existing MPAs, we demonstrate how benefits from MPAs are still likely to accrue by targeting seasonal aggregations and critical life history stages and through other management techniques.

Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation


dynamic ocean management, home range, life history, marine predators, marine protected areas, migratory connectivity, mobile marine protected areas, pelagic conservation


Full author list: Melinda G. Conners, Nicholas B. Sisson, Pierre D. Agamboue, Philip W. Atkinson, Alastair M. M. Baylis, Scott R. Benson, Barbara A. Block, Steven J. Bograd, Pablo Bordino, W. D. Bowen, Paul Brickle6, Ignacio M. Bruno, Victoria González Carman, Cory D. Champagne, Daniel E. Crocker, Daniel P. Costa, Tiffany M. Dawson, Tomohiro Deguchi, Heidi Dewar, Philip D. Doherty, Tomo Eguchi, Angela Formia, Brendan J. Godley, Rachel T. Graham, Christian Gredzens, Kristen M. Hart, Lucy A. Hawkes, Suzanne Henderson, Robert William Henry III, Luis A. Hückstädt, Ladd M. Irvine, Sarah S. Kienle, Carey E. Kuhn, Damian Lidgard, Stephanie A. Loredo, Bruce R. Mate, Kristian Metcalfe, Jacob Nzegoue, Carmen K. Kouerey Oliwina, Rachael A. Orben, Kiyoaki Ozaki, Richard Parnell, Elizabeth P. Pike, Patrick W. Robinson, Howard C. Rosenbaum, Fumio Sato, Scott A. Shaffer, Donna J. Shaver, Samantha E. Simmons, Brian J. Smith, Guy-Philippe Sounguet, Robert M. Suryan, David R. Thompson, Megan Tierney, Dominic Tilley, Hillary S. Young, Victoria Warwick-Evans, Michael J. Weise, Randall S. Wells, Bradley P. Wilkinson, Matthew J. Witt and Sara M. Maxwell

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories