MEPS 316:247-255 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps316247

Continuous Plankton Recorder database: evolution, current uses and future directions

Darren Stevens1,*, Anthony J. Richardson1,2,3, Philip C. Reid1

1Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK
2CSIRO Marine Research, Cleveland, Queensland 4163, Australia
3Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

ABSTRACT: The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey, operated by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), is the largest plankton monitoring programme in the world and has spanned >70 yr. The dataset contains information from ~200 000 samples, with over 2.3 million records of individual taxa. Here we outline the evolution of the CPR database through changes in technology, and how this has increased data access. Recent high-impact publications and the expanded role of CPR data in marine management demonstrate the usefulness of the dataset. We argue that solely supplying data to the research community is not sufficient in the current research climate; to promote wider use, additional tools need to be developed to provide visual representation and summary statistics. We outline 2 software visualisation tools, SAHFOS WinCPR and the digital CPR Atlas, which provide access to CPR data for both researchers and non-plankton specialists. We also describe future directions of the database, data policy and the development of visualisation tools. We believe that the approach at SAHFOS to increase data accessibility and provide new visualisation tools has enhanced awareness of the data and led to the financial security of the organisation; it also provides a good model of how long-term monitoring programmes can evolve to help secure their future.

KEY WORDS: Data accessibility · Visualisation tools · CPR data

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