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CPR sampling: the technical background, materials and methods, consistency and comparability

Version 2 2024-06-03, 20:48
Version 1 2017-07-26, 15:15
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 20:48 authored by SD Batten, R Clark, J Flinkman, Graeme HaysGraeme Hays, E John, AWG John, T Jonas, JA Lindley, DP Stevens, A Walne
The Continuous Plankton Recorder has been deployed for 70 years. Although modifications to the machine have been relatively minor, there has been a steady increase in the speed at which it is towed, creating a need to quantify what effects this may have had on its sampling characteristics. Additionally, because the CPR database is one of the longest and most geographically extensive biological time series in the world, and scientists are currently focusing on gaining understanding about climate-induced ecological changes, there is increasing pressure to quantify the sampling performance and relate the CPR data to data collected by other plankton samplers. Many of these issues of consistency and comparability have been investigated throughout the decades of the CPR survey. The primary aim of this study is to draw together the results of those investigations, updating or integrating them where applicable. A secondary aim is to use the CPR database to address other previously unexamined issues. We show that the increase in speed of tow has had no effect on the depth of sampling and the mechanical efficiency of the internal mechanism, but that at the highest tow speeds there is some evidence that flow may be reduced. Depth of tow may also be dependent on the ship operating a particular route. We describe the processing procedures used to ensure consistency of analysis and detail the changes in taxonomic resolution that have occurred through the course of the survey. Some consistency issues remain unresolved, such as the effects of adding heavy instrumentation to the attitude of the CPR in the water and possible effects on sampling performance. The reduction of flow caused by clogging of the filtering mesh has now been quantified through the addition of flowmeters and each CPR sample can now be calibrated for measured, or derived, filtered volume. Although estimates of abundances for large areas have been shown to be unaffected by recalibration, absolute quantification of plankton abundance is necessary to enable comparisons with other sampling devices. Several studies have now been undertaken that compare plankton abundances obtained with the CPR with those obtained using vertical nets at specific locations on the European continental shelf. Although catches by the CPR are almost always lower, seasonal cycles are replicated in each comparison, and interannual variability generally agrees between time series. The relative catch rates for an individual species by each device appear to be consistent, probably because of the organisms' behaviour and attributes of the sampling device. We are now able to develop calibration factors to convert CPR catches to absolute abundances that can be integrated with other data sets where appropriate, which should increase the applicability and utility of CPR data.



Progress in Oceanography






Oxford, Eng.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2003, Elsevier




Pergamon Press [Elsevier BV]

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