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Developing further studies on plankton species distribution utilising the continuous plankton recorder (CPR V) - ME3108

Key Customer Purpose - Why is the R&D needed?
Assist Defra in determining a wider understanding of the health of marine ecosystems in relation to natural and anthropogenic change and provide key data to support several policy commitments e.g. Quality Status reports (OSPAR/ICES), climate change, the ecosystem approach etc.

Summary Objectives
To maintain and increase the multi-decadal data collected by the CPR over the North West European Shelf and in the Eastern and Western North Atlantic. In doing so, retain and improve survey skills in logistics, maintenance of equipment, taxonomy, identification, analysis and data processing.

The data collected will be analysed to distinguish the difference between climatically forced, anthropogenic and natural plankton variability. The data will also be used to investigate the effects of pollution & enhanced inorganic nutrient loads on pelagic ecosystems; monitor changes in marine biodiversity to aid the development of indices of ecological health of UK regional seas; and provide data to Defra agencies and initiatives developing policy interests (e.g. climate and ecosystem modellers).

The project will also contribute to a small education and knowledge transfer programme and will annually update the gridded plankton database WinCPR.
1. MAINTENANCE OF CORE OBSERVING SYSTEM: To maintain the integrity of, and increase by increments the multidecadal databases for the core areas of the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey in UK regional sea, the NE Atlantic and the North Atlantic. To monitor and describe, the long-term, pelagic variability and diversity in these core areas of the CPR survey. To secure the long-term maintenance of the CPR sample archive as well as the new microbial and metazoan archive and maximise its use by making it available for molecular, biogeochemical and other studies.

2. MAINTENANCE OF QUALITY AND EXPERTISE: To adhere to strict Quality Control procedures and improve survey skills in logistics, maintenance of equipment, taxonomy and analysis. To retain and improve scientific skills in innovative statistical analysis, modelling, data processing, interpretation and assessment. Aim to become a recognised international centre of excellence in plankton morphological taxonomy including a branch of molecular ecology and phylogenetics.

3. INNOVATIVE MARINE ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH: To utilise data collected by SAHFOS to interpret marine biological changes and attempt to distinguish between anthropogenic, climatically forced and natural plankton variability. Scientific research will be directed along four science themes: (i) Macroecology and climate change impacts; (ii) Biodiversity and changes to ecosystem functionality; (iii) Sustainable use of marine bio-resources; (iv) Environment, pollution and ecosystem health. All of these themes are highly relevant to UK marine policy requirements. SAHFOS will continue to develop new indicators that can assess the ecological health of U.K. regional seas. The indicator approach used by SAHFOS will be highly relevant to assessing and monitoring Good Environmental Status (GES) in UK and European waters as part of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

4. DATA PROVISION AND MODEL VALIDATION: To collaborate with UK and European agencies (e.g. Cefas, Nerc, DTU-AQUA, FRS, IFREMER, IMARES, IMR), laboratories and associated organisations and especially modelling groups outside SAHFOS to increase understanding of links between CPR data and long-term changes in the environment and fish stocks. To increase the use of the CPR database through involvement with external researchers/organisations and within ICES working groups with the aim of improving our understanding of the changes occurring in the North Atlantic marine system. This will help to develop an ecosystem based management for marine resources conservation.

5. NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND ADDED VALUE: Although not directly funded through this proposal SAHFOS will aim to add value to the CPR survey by instrumenting routes when possible and cost-effective and by implementing relevant new technologies, in partnership with other organisations. In particular, SAHFOS will focus on developing the Water and Microbial Sampler (WAMS) jointly with Cefas and developing DNA microarrays for Harmful Algal Blooms with the Marine Biological Association for the UK. Future rapid cell identification methods will be explored using flow cytometry to sort cells on size and pigment to further classify and quantify cells by size and pigment which can be isolated for later molecular analysis.

6. INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS: SAHFOS will continue to promote the CPR approach in international programmes such as the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and organisations such as the Scientific Committee for Oceanographic Research (SCOR), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

7. KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER: Policy drivers continue to influence research at SAHFOS and an important aim of the organisation is to use CPR data and the expertise of SAHFOS scientists to deliver evidence-based advice to policy makers and ecosystem managers. SAHFOS has a history of indicator development involving dialogue with policy makers/managers, ensuring that indicators developed using CPR data are relevant and adequately address current policy and management issues. SAHFOS will continue to promote and advance education and knowledge about the marine environment for the public benefit by disseminating information derived from the study of plankton populations in the ocean and coastal seas.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Microsoft Word - C3497 CPR FINAL REPORT 11032011   (5102k)
• Two Page Summary : Two Page Summary How can changes in marine biodiversity be monitored?   (558k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2012

Cost: £1,031,828
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Sir Alistair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
Environmental Protection              
Marine conservation              
Marine Impacts              
Nature conservation              
Fields of Study
Environmental Protection - Marine