Evidence-based marine protected area planning for a highly mobile endangered marine vertebrate

Gail Schofield, Rebecca Scott, Alexandra Dimadi, Sabrina Fossette, Kostas A. Katselidis, Drosos Koutsoubas, Martin K S Lilley, John D. Pantis, Amalia D. Karagouni, Graeme C. Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Citations (Scopus)


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) now form an important part of marine conservation and fisheries management; hence, there is broad interest in developing procedures that optimize their design. We used data collected over a 10-year period (2003-2012) from direct surveys and. >100. adult male and female loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) tracked with devices, including GPS loggers and Fastloc GPS-Argos, to consider the optimum design for a MPA at a globally important breeding area, where there is already an existing national marine park aiming to protect the population (Zakynthos, Greece). Turtles primarily used areas very close to shore (approx. 7. km in length by 1. km in width, within the. <10. m isobath) for breeding and foraging activity at different times of the year. We calculated that this small nearshore coastal zone encompassed 72% of all turtle GPS locations recorded in the MPA, and is therefore important for conservation management. We developed an index to evaluate the suitability of the existing and proposed conservation zones based on (1) home range area use by turtles in these zones versus (2) zone size, so that the benefit to turtles could be maximized while minimizing the negative impacts to other stakeholders (e.g., boat operators). With this evidence-based approach, we propose a modification to the existing MPA that might both enhance local economic tourism activities and better safeguard this key sea turtle breeding population. The approaches used here will have general application for the design of MPAs used by mobile species that can be tracked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date22 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

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