Using continuous plankton recorder data
Richardson, A.J. and Walne, A.W. and John, A.W.G. and Jonas, T.D. and Lindley, J.A. and Sims, D.W. and Stevens, D. and Witt, M. (2006) Using continuous plankton recorder data. Progress in Oceanography, 68 (1). pp. 27-74. ISSN 0079-6611
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Official URL: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/pocean
The continuous plankton recorder (CPR) survey is the largest multi-decadal plankton monitoring programme in the world. It was initiated in 1931 and by the end of 2004 had counted 207,619 samples and identified 437 phyto- and zooplankton taxa throughout the North Atlantic. CPR data are used extensively by the research community and in recent years have been used increasingly to underpin marine management. Here, we take a critical look at how best to use CPR data. We first describe the CPR itself, CPR sampling, and plankton counting procedures. We discuss the spatial and temporal biases in the Survey, summarise environmental data that have not previously been available, and describe the new data access policy. We supply information essential to using CPR data, including descriptions of each CPR taxonomic entity, the idiosyncrasies associated with counting many of the taxa, the logic behind taxonomic changes in the Survey, the semi-quantitative nature of CPR sampling, and recommendations on choosing the spatial and temporal scale of study. This forms the basis for a broader discussion on how to use CPR data for deriving ecologically meaningful indices based on size, functional groups and biomass that can be used to support research and management. This contribution should be useful for plankton ecologists, modellers and policy makers that actively use CPR data.
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