Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are created to preserve marine natural and cultural resources from human activities. Nowadays only 2.07% of the world’s oceans is protected, and half of that area fully protected. In September 2016, at the World Conservation Congress, the IUCN State Members set a target of 30% of coastal and marine areas that should be fully protected by 2030. Within this context, there is a growing concern regarding the number of efficient MPAs. There is a need to design monitoring programs that evaluate the efficiency of these MPAs over long-term. One of the main issues is that biological or ecological features of marine species as well as ecosystem processes are not taken into account in MPA design.

 Current projects

Subtidal monitoring program at the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Charles Darwin Foundation

I am currently leading the subtidal ecological monitoring program in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), that has been taken over the past 20 years, organizing the monitoring action plan for the management of the new zonification of the GMR. This program is essential to monitor temporal and spatial patterns in the subtidal marine communities at the GMR.

  Previous projects

Monitoring MPAs using genetic tools

University of Bologna, Italy


Within the project training network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MMMPA: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN) the aim of this project was to improve the methods for assessing the current status of MPAs in the Mediterranean Sea. To reach this goal, several aspects were studied: biodiversity assessment and ecosystem functioning, local fisheries description and management, biodiversity threats and socio-economic assessment and integrated coastal zone management. At the end of the project guidelines on the application of innovative MPA monitoring approaches were delivered to the European Union to the Mediterranean MPA managers.

My Ph.D. program was part of an European training network MMMPA, where I learned and got trained in other aspects in marine conservation: management, governance, spatial conservation, leadership in marine conservation, stakeholder engagement, scientific communication… At the end of the program we produced a set of guidelines to support development management plans and produced outreach materials for general audiences on Marine Protected Areas.

Genetic diversity and connectivity in two intertidal limpets across Marine Protected Areas in north-western Mediterranean

One of the main aspects that I worked on this project is how to integrate genetic tools for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) design and monitoring. Genetic is a important aspect consider for research design and monitoring. Genetic tools allow to measure how diverse (genetic diversity) and connected (genetic connectivity) are marine populations. More diverse populations have the potential to be more resilient to environmental impacts and connectivity help to recover impacted populations. All this tools should be integrated with other monitoring tools and visualised in an understandable manner, in order to communicate to MPA managers and policy makers.

Related outputs

Scientific publications

Patricia Marti-Puig (2016). Genetic and morphological features of Patella caerulea and Patella rustica across Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas. PhD thesis. University of Bologna.

Patricia Marti-Puig, Federica Costantini, Massimo Ponti, Adriana Villamor, Marco Abbiati (2016). Genetic diversity and connectivity in two intertidal limpets across Marine Protected Areas in north-western Mediterranean. Marine Environmental Research (submitted).

Patricia Marti-Puig, Federica Costantini, Luca Rugiu, Massimo Ponti & Marco Abbiati. Patterns of genetic connectivity in invertebrates of temperate MPA networks. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology. Volume 4, Issue 2, November 2013.

Policy papers and technical reports

P. Marti-Puig, A. Calò , M. Ponti , F. Costantini , A. Villamor , M. Abbiati and J. García-Charton, 2016. Guidelines on Genetic connectivity as a tool for assessing the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Médit., 41 : 548.

Massimo Ponti and the MMMPA Supervisory Board. Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: a set of guidelines to support the development of management plans. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Médit., 41 : 548.

Patricia Marti-Puig, Antonio Calò, Federica Costantini, Adriana Villamor, Marco Abbiati, Massimo Ponti, Jose Chartón (2016), pp 80-87. Genetic connectivity and diversity as a tool for assess the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas. In: MMMPA Supervisory Board (Eds) Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: A set of guidelines to support the development of management plans. Deliverable of the MMMPA European project (FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN g.a. no.: 290056). Ancona, 116 pages.

CIESM 2015. MMMPA and CIESM International Joint Conference on Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: Integrated Management as a Response to Ecosystem Threats – Post-Event Brief [co-edited by C. Cerrano, Y. Henocque, P. Moschella, K. Hogg and M. Ponti] 15-17 October 2015, Ancona, Italy, 84 pp.


Presentations & other Media