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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Ecological connectivity of the marine protected area network in the Baltic Sea, Kattegat and Skagerrak: Current knowledge and management needs

Berkström, Charlotte; Wennerström, Lovisa; Bergström, Ulf


Marine protected areas (MPAs) have become a key component of conservation and fisheries management to alleviate anthropogenic pressures. For MPA networks to efficiently promote persistence and recovery of populations, ecological connectivity, i.e. dispersal and movement of organisms and material across ecosystems, needs to be taken into account. To improve the ecological coherence of MPA networks, there is hence a need to evaluate the connectivity of species spreading through active migration and passive dispersal. We reviewed knowledge on ecological connectivity in the Baltic Sea, Kattegat and Skagerrak in the northeast Atlantic and present available information on species-specific dispersal and migration distances. Studies on genetic connectivity are summarised and discussed in relation to dispersal-based analyses. Threats to ecological connectivity, limiting dispersal of populations and lowering the resilience to environmental change, were examined. Additionally, a review of studies evaluating the ecological coherence of MPA networks in the Baltic Sea, Kattegat and Skagerrak was performed, and suggestions for future evaluations to meet management needs are presented.


Connectivity; Dispersal; Ecological coherence; Migration; Marine protected areas (MPAs); Mobile links

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2022, Volume: 51, number: 6, pages: 1485-1503
Publisher: SPRINGER