(Photo Credit: Ed Roberts)

(Photo Credit: Ed Roberts)

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are failing to protect the evolutionary diversity of fish and corals, according to a new study. The researchers conclude that over 7,000 million years of the evolutionary history of corals and 3,586 million years of fish evolution is not protected.

Researchers studied 450 species of fish, which represent important components of marine biodiversity, and hundreds of species of coral, and calculated how much of their geographic range is covered by the MPAs.

Marine protected areas were designed to conserve species diversity rather than evolutionary diversity, however the authors argue the latter is a crucial component of biodiversity.

Original research paper published in Nature Communications on January 12, 2015.

Names and affiliations of selected author

David Mouillot, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Camille Albouy, Department of Biology, Chemistry and Geography, Universite´ du Quebec a Rimouski, Quebec