Zooplankton occurrence in Continous Plankton Recorder plankton tows in the North Atlantic Ocean, 1946-2014 (CPR Plankton Survey project)

Website: https://www.bco-dmo.org/dataset/660327
Data Type: Cruise Results
Version Date: 2016-09-30

» The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey: Monitoring the Plankton of the North Atlantic (CPR Plankton Survey)
Wiebe, Peter H.Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)Principal Investigator
Johns, DavidSir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS)Scientist
Edwards, MartinSir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS)Project Coordinator
Stevens, DarrenSir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS)Data Manager
Copley, NancyWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI BCO-DMO)BCO-DMO Data Manager


Spatial Extent: N:79 E:26.05 S:-63.318 W:-80.9017
Temporal Extent: 1946 - 2014

Dataset Description

This dataset includes zooplankton found in CPR tows from1946 to 2014. These are occurrence data, not abundances.

Click on the 'Get Data' button above to view some of the data or drill down into any selection by species.
The entire, unsorted data file may be download [846 MB]: zoop_occur.dat

Over the last 81years, the CPR analysis team has analyzed more than a quarter of a million samples from over 6.5 million miles of tows in the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, North and South Atlantic, North Pacific, and Indian Oceans. In 2015 (to mid-December), approx. 124,600 nautical miles were sampled with over 4000 samples for analysis. Samples were taken in the North Atlantic and North Sea, Pacific, and Southern Ocean. 

SAHFOS can supply some descriptive data at little cost (usually free).

Spatial and temporal data are stored at SAHFOS for every sample analysed by the CPR survey, since 1946. This amounts to almost 170,000 samples, with around 200 more samples added per month. The presence of every planktonic entity identified on each sample is stored in the database, and there are almost 2 million plankton records in total. The database also contains supportive information such as tow locations, times and dates, ship details, a taxon catalogue and analyst details.

Over 400 zooplankton and phytoplankton entities have been identified on CPR samples, and the 'abundance' of each entity on each sample can be extracted from the database. Some plankton are identified to species level, some to genus level, and some at a higher taxonomic level. Some entities are groups of other entities. The complete Species List is kept in the database.

Data can be extracted from user defined areas, over specified periods, for selected entities [from the SAHFOS site]. For example, all samples taken from the Dogger Bank area in the North Sea during March, April, and May since 1946 could be extracted from the database, and the 'abundance' of selected diatom species on each sample could be listed. Alternatively, an average value, number of samples, and standard deviation per year per month, could be retrieved. The data can be exported to statistical and presentation packages in many popular formats such as text, rich text, comma separated, MS Excel, MS Access, MS Word, Fox Pro, Dbase, Lotus and to SQL compliant databases. SAHFOS can supply some descriptive data at little cost (usually free). Example of data

If you would like to know more about CPR coverage of a particular location, contact the Data Manager - Darren Stevens or David Johnsat SAHFOS.

For information about methods and parameters, and link to SAHFOS' data page: http://www.sahfos.ac.uk/cpr-data/database.aspx

Processing Description

BCO-DMO Processing:
- The data were sorted by species name and date
- Special characters were removed

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Data Files

Continuous Plankton Recorder Dataset (CPR Survey) - Zooplankton
filename: dwca-sahfos-cpr-zoo-v4.4.zip
(ZIP Archive (ZIP), 1.17 GB)
This .zip file was downloaded from GBIF on 2020-05-25. It is version 4.4, 2,196,595 records (1,203 MB), update to 2017.

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Related Publications

Richardson, A. J., Walne, A. W., John, A. W. G., Jonas, T. D., Lindley, J. A., Sims, D. W., … Witt, M. (2006). Using continuous plankton recorder data. Progress in Oceanography, 68(1), 27–74. doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2005.09.011

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typeThe nature or genre of the resource unitless
institutionCodeThe name (or acronym) in use by the institution having custody of the object(s) or information referred to in the record. unitless
collectionCode(The name acronym coden or initialism identifying the collection or data set from which the record was derived.) unitless
basisOfRecordThe specific nature of the data record unitless
samplingProtocolMethod of sample collection unitless
samplingEffortThe amount of effort expended during an Event: the distance the CPR was towed miles or kilometers
bibliographicCitationA bibliographic reference for the resource. unitless
scientificNameThe name of the taxon identified unitless
taxonIDtaxonomic identification code unitless
scientificNameIDAn identifier for the nomenclatural (not taxonomic) details of a scientific name. Not used. unitless
yearcollection year year
monthcollection month month
idserial number of taxon (An identifier for the Identification) unitless
catalogNumberA unique identifier for the record within the data set. unitless
eventTimeThe interval during which an Event (the tow) occurred. decimal hours?
dayday of month days
fieldNumberAn identifier given to the event in the field serving as a link between field notes and the Event. unitless
depth_minminimum depth sampled meters
depth_maxmaximum depth sampled meters
latlatitude; north is positive decimal degrees
lonlongitude; east is positive decimal degrees

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Dataset-specific Instrument Name
Generic Instrument Name
Continous Plankton Recorder
Generic Instrument Description
The CPR is a plankton sampling instrument designed to be towed from merchant ships or ships of opportunity on their normal sailings. The CPR is towed at a depth of approximately 10 metres. Water passes through the CPR and plankton are filtered onto a slow-moving band of silk (270 micrometre mesh size) and covered by a second silk. The silks and plankton are then spooled into a storage tank containing formalin. On return to the laboratory, the silk is removed from the mechanism and divided into samples representing 10 nautical miles (19 km) of tow. CPR samples are analyzed in two ways. Firstly, the Phytoplankton Color Index (PCI) is determined for each sample. The colour of the silk is evaluated against a standard colour chart and given a 'green-ness' value based on the visual discoloration of the CPR silk produced by green chlorophyll pigments; the PCI is a semiquantitative estimate of phytoplankton biomass. In this way the PCI takes into account the chloroplasts of broken cells and small phytoplankton which cannot be counted during the microscopic analysis stage. After determination of the PCI, microscopic analysis is undertaken for each sample, and individual phytoplankton and zooplanktontaxa are identified and counted. Reid, P.C.; Colebrook, J.M.; Matthews, J.B.L.; Aiken, J.; et al. (2003). "The Continuous Plankton Recorder: concepts and history, from plankton indicator to undulating recorders".Progress in Oceanography 58(2-4): 117-175. doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2003.08.002. Warner, A.J., and Hays, G.C.,; Hays, G (1994). "Sampling by the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey". Progress in Oceanography 34(2–3): 237–256. doi:10.1016/0079-6611(94)90011-6.

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Start Date
End Date
Continuous Plankton Recorder deployments on many ships of opportunity

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Project Information

The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey: Monitoring the Plankton of the North Atlantic (CPR Plankton Survey)

Coverage: Western North Atlantic Ocean

NSF award abstract (OCE-1657887):
The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey (1931 to present) is the only long-term and ocean basin wide operational survey of plankton in the world. CPR observations are critical in evaluating and quantifying the scale and effects of impacts from climate change, acidification, eutrophication, loss of biodiversity to over fishing as well as providing a "backbone" to developing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management practices. The required ecosystem observing program includes phytoplankton and zooplankton that are measured by the Continuous Plankton Recorder surveys. These surveys represent some of the longest and most cost effective observing programs in marine systems. This project will significantly contribute to international programs such as the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), GEO-BON, the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Scientific Commission on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). Products from the survey are also being used to construct and validate a new generation of ecosystem, fishery, and climate models.

This award will support the continuation of USA support to help maintain core monitoring of zooplankton and phytoplankton by the CPR routes in the western Atlantic from Iceland down to the eastern margin of the USA. Maintaining the CPRs, their internal mechanisms, and the preparation of the silks is an important part of the work of the survey. Samples cut from the silk that represent ~10 nautical miles are analysed under a microscope and the species identified, all to standard procedures. In the analysis, the color of the silks is assessed visually to a standard scale as the "Phytoplankton Color Index". The data will be used to describe the long-term, pelagic variability and diversity of plankton in the NW Atlantic and will help scientists interpret marine biological changes and to distinguish between anthropogenic, climatically forced, and natural plankton variability. The analysis of the CPR data will be directed to incorporate marine management issues and include studies on: large-scale environmental change; biodiversity and invasive species; sustainable use of marine bio-resources; ecosystem health and ocean acidification. All these themes are highly relevant to emerging scientific questions, US marine policy and management interests, and the main societal concerns on the marine environment. Throughout the duration of the project it is envisaged that the data collected will provide invaluable information in addressing these highly topical themes and understanding these impacts on the marine ecosystems of the NW Atlantic.

Note: The project description from the previous award (OCE-1154661) can be found on the NSF website.

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Funding SourceAward
NSF Division of Ocean Sciences (NSF OCE)

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