Going Global: Internationalising the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey

Lead Research Organisation: SAHFOS
Department Name: Sir Alister Hardy Found for Ocean Sci

Abstract

Plankton are the 'life blood' of the oceans where they carry out key ecological services. These include forming the main food stock of most fisheries, the ability to control our climate and the generation of half the oxygen we breathe.

Plankton are tiny organisms, generally microscopic in size and are difficult to sample. In 1931 Sir Alister Hardy set up the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey to help fishermanin the North Sea. The recorder is towed by merchant navy vessels on regular routes collecting plankton that are then analysed in the laboratory. Because of the demand for plankton data, the CPR Survey has grown and now operates at monthly frequency on standard tow routes in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Arctic Oceans. In these oceans plankton are changing their abundance and distribution influenced by global change processes. For instance in the North Atalntic plankton have moved 1000 km northwards in 5 decades. This is due to large scale processes such as pollution, ocean acidification and climate change. The CPR SUrvey is managed by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science in Plymouth UK.

In the last 15 years, independent Surveys have been set up in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and China. South Africa, Namibia and Brazil wish to set up their own surveys. In each case the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science has helped these countries to set up their own surveys.

This proposal is to create a Global Alliance for CPR Surveys (GACS) so that a global perspective can be achieved. GACS will be 'more than the sum of the individual parts' since we will move from a series of disconnected surveys towards a global perspective. This is needed to tackle the global challenges of climate, fisheries, pollution, and ocean acidification. The funding requested is to 'pump prime this process to enable the surveys to work together. A global database will be set up as will a website and newsletter. Training progarmmes involving secondment of staff will be set up. It is anticipated that GACS will be self sustaining once it is set and the way of working has been agreed.

Planned Impact

The Global Alliance of CPR Surveys will be modelled on the SAHFOS based CPR Survey which produces data on plankton biodiversity as a service to the community.

The community of users is very wide and includes scientists and policy makers. The scientific community in question is far wider that those who carry out the immediate or even similar work in plankton. It ranges from marine modellers who need high quality data to verify ecosystem models to terrestrial scientists who are interested in whether the seas and land are behaving similarly to global change. A wide range of policy makers use our products already. These include Defra, Environment Agency (EA), European Environment Agency (EEA), Fisheries Research Services Scotland (FRS), Healthy Biologically Diversity Seas Evidence Group (HBDSEG), Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP). Requests from stakeholders for CPR data products have risen steadily from 2 in 1999 to 53 in 2009.

With the formation of GACS this net of stakeholders will increase several fold simply because the data sets will be considerably larger (global rather than regional) and the range of applications can be increased. Thus we anticipate there will be take up by the global community of ocean scientists, ecologists, biogeochemists, earth system modellers. GACS will also be of interest to international policy makers and coordination committees including Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean (DFO) who require details on plankton that underpin fisheries; Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) that seek international cooperation for sustained observations of the oceans, generation of oceanographic products and services and interaction between research, operational, and user communities; Group on Earth Observations (GEO) who have ecosystems and biodiversity as Societal Benefit Areas (SBA's); GEO Biodiversity Observation Network (GEOBON) that require information on all major biodiversity resources; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC*) that promotes international cooperation in marine research including observation systems and capacity development in order to learn more and better manage the nature and resources of the oceans; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who require an understanding of how plankton change in relation to climate change; International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) who require understanding of plankton as they underpin fisheries sustainability; Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR*) that require plankton data to underpin their core programmes; US National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA*) requires plankton data in order to manage fisheries in US waters; World Health Organisation (WHO) since some diseases (cholera) are considered to be borne by plankton.

GACS will interact with all policy makers and coordination committees via email to announce GACS has been set up and also via the new website. Some organisations* have already indicated they wish to join the first workshop to oversee the formation of GACS and to input views on its relevance for stakeholders.

GACS will greatly increase the efficiency of public service through the provision of global data that is quality controlled and readily available via a 'one stop shop'.

GACS will also underpin enhanced quality of life by the provision of data on plankton that are a major component in climate control, fisheries and ocean acidification.

All these aspects will have an indirect but fundamental impact on UK plc.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description There are 14 regional surveys under the Global Alliance of Continuous Plankton Recorder Surveys and new surveys are being developed. We have developed a gloabl database as well as a website. We have agreed common working standards and methodologies and developed capacity building procedures.
Exploitation Route To continue to provide support for new surveys including capacity building. To set up secondments of scientists between institutions.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment

URL http://www.globalcpr.org
 
Description The Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey now has 14 institutes within the global network of CPR surveys, GACS, and is providing support to new surveys being developed.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Title Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Database 
Description SAHFOS is unique in having comparable data on the geographical distribution, seasonal cycles and year-to-year changes in abundance of plankton over a large spatial area. There is no other survey in the world with 85 years of marine plankton data. CPR Data are available in paper form back to 1931 and from January 1946 onward in a relational database. The database contains results from 246,667 samples with 2,767,349 taxonomic abundance entries. Analysed sample information is entered on to an analysis book which is typed into the computer once the whole sample is completed. These data are then scrutinized by rigorous quality control methods, before the survey database is incremented. The database then calculates the accepted mean value for the categories and applies abundance values. Data is held in a Microsoft Sql Server database and entered using the CPR console a bespoke piece of software designed for use with Windows. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact See extensive publication list from SAHFOS where other researchers and fisheries scientists have used the data for a wide range of scientific projects ranging from impacts of climate change; fisheries stock assessments, ocean acidification, harmful algal bloom assessments, biodiversity assessments, biological regime shifts, phenology, human health and aquaculture. 
URL http://www.sahfos.ac.uk/
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation Benguela Current Commission
Country Namibia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
Collaborator Contribution Combined assessment on microplastic descriptors in the CPR survey
Impact Development of standard working practices for ID of microplastics
Start Year 2012
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department Institute of Archaeology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
Collaborator Contribution Combined assessment on microplastic descriptors in the CPR survey
Impact Development of standard working practices for ID of microplastics
Start Year 2012
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
Department National Institute Of Oceanography (NIO)
Country India 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
Collaborator Contribution Combined assessment on microplastic descriptors in the CPR survey
Impact Development of standard working practices for ID of microplastics
Start Year 2012
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG)
Country Angola 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
Collaborator Contribution Combined assessment on microplastic descriptors in the CPR survey
Impact Development of standard working practices for ID of microplastics
Start Year 2012
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
Collaborator Contribution Combined assessment on microplastic descriptors in the CPR survey
Impact Development of standard working practices for ID of microplastics
Start Year 2012
 
Description Standards & Methodologies Working Group 
Organisation National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA, New Zealand)
Country New Zealand 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working Group of GACS partners to agree common sampling and analysis methods.
Collaborator Contribution Combined assessment on microplastic descriptors in the CPR survey
Impact Development of standard working practices for ID of microplastics
Start Year 2012
 
Description Presenation at 5th Benguela Cuurent Commission Annual Science Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The talk reported on progress made with the GACS project and discussion followed the presentation.

After the presentation further funds were obtained to set up a dedicated Regional CPR Centre in Cape Town.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Presentation at POGO Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk was very well received and sparked questions and advice on future activities for GACS and future eDNA initiatives

POGO remains a keen supporter of the GACS partnership and there is the opportunity for future capacity building funded by their Fellowships.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ocean-partners.org/pogo-18
 
Description SCOR Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation was well received and provoked further discussion about GACS activities and status reports.

The SCOR Chief Executive gave a presentation at our Baord of Governance Meeting in September 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013