MPAShift: Research to Understand Climate-Driven Shifts in Species and Habitats in Japan’s MPAs


MPAShift: Research to Understand Climate-Driven Shifts in Species and Habitats in Japan’s MPAs
Photo courtesy of Maria Beger

In Japan, changing ocean conditions are expected to increasingly drive species and habitats to shift outside their historical ranges. At the same time, the country has a complex marine protected area (MPA) system that combines both national parks and local conservation and fisheries management areas. To help inform and implement stronger coordination across managers of these MPAs, this research team will use MPAShift, a tool that brings together a series of quantitative ecological, analytical, environmental DNA (eDNA), and conservation science methods to: 

  • Quantify species shifts into higher latitudes, especially as tropical species move into temperate waters;
  • Understand the dynamics between habitat and species shifts; 
  • Identify the connectivity (or lack thereof) between different MPAs management efforts; and 
  • Work with national managers and local stakeholders such as municipalities, fishing unions or local communities to propose a shared marine climate change management agenda for Japan’s MPAs. 

Informing Management  

Within Japanese national parks, most areas are zones with few regulations interspersed with more highly protected areas. In addition, local conservation and fisheries management areas are typically managed by local fishing unions via self-imposed, often voluntary regulations, such as no-take zones and other restrictions. Through MPAShift, the researchers will engage national and municipalities, fishing unions, local communities, other coastal businesses, NGOs and more to coordinate on the research questions as well as involve them in fieldworks and how best to use the project’s outputs. By conducting the research in a collaborative way, the researchers aim to help bring national and local scales of management together to foster a network approach to Japan’s MPA system and to inform a national marine climate change policy. 

Research Team  

  • Maria Beger, University of Leeds UK
  • James D. Reimer, University of the Ryukyus Japan
  • Megumi Nakano, Nature Conservation Society of Japan
  • Alex Dumbrell, University of Essex, UK