Long-running geographically extensive marine ecological survey, providing the 'big picture' on global ocean change

Driven by almost a century of sustained plankton observations, scientific excellence and innovation, the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey is a globally recognised leader on the impacts of environmental change on the health of our oceans.

As a large-scale global survey, it provides the scientific and policy communities with a basin-wide and long-term measure of the ecological health of marine plankton. Established in 1931, the CPR Survey is the longest running, most geographically extensive marine ecological survey in the world. Home to a considerable database of marine plankton and associated metadata that is used by researchers and policy makers to examine strategically important science pillars such as climate change, human health, fisheries, biodiversity, pathogens, invasive species, ocean acidification and natural capital.

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Please click here to read about our 60 years of CPR data.

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Providing the 'big picture' on global ocean change from genes to ecosystems

The CPR Survey is of global importance in progressing understanding of natural variability and human-induced changes in our oceans. It is used by scientists, policy makers and environmental managers across the world. Over the last eight decades the purpose of the Survey has co-evolved with changing environmental policy, from purely monitoring plankton distributions to addressing and providing indicators for major marine management issues, ranging from fisheries, harmful algal blooms, biodiversity, pollution, eutrophication, ocean acidification and climate warming.

Many scientific firsts and insights have developed from examining and interrogating the CPR Survey's extensive time-series. The Survey has provided primary evidence of changes in global ocean biology for the last two IPCC reports and the UN’s first World Ocean Assessment. The results have included the first documented studies of large-scale ecological regime shifts, biogeographic, phenological and trans-arctic migrations in the marine environment in response to climate change.

Accessing CPR Survey data

The CPR Survey has an open and transparent approach to data availability, data requests and data citation. The Survey believes its plankton observation, ancillary datasets and associated metadata should be freely available to collaborating researchers. To find out which data are available and for more information accessing CPR Survey data, please visit our data portal at https://www.cprsurvey.org/data/our-data/ 

Research services we can provide

The CPR Survey offers a broad range of skills and expertise, from genes to entire marine systems. We use a variety of approaches, from the most conceptual (ecological theories) to the most practical (laboratory-based experimentation). These include:

  • Provide robust and sensitive indicators of environmental changes
  • Offer expertise in time-series analysis and interpretation of climate change impacts, phenology, regime shifts, biodiversity and invasive species

IMarEST accredited CPR technical course

This five day practical course is aimed at new technicians from established CPR surveys and scientists/technicians wishing to operate a CPR from a research vessel. 

Taking a hands-on approach the course covers:

• preparation of filtering silks

• setting up and maintaining a CPR

• record keeping of CPR tows and samples

• CPR unloading and processing

• sample preservation

This course is available on request, email: CPRSurvey@mba.ac.uk for further information

The CPR Survey International Sample Archive

Collecting today for tomorrow's technology

We hold one of the oldest, most large scale sample archives in the world. Samples collected by the CPR Survey since 1958 are stored and carefully curated, providing a bank of samples available for future analysis using new and innovative methodologies.

During routine plankton analysis, every other sample on a tow is processed by our team of specialist analysts, before being archived. The remaining 50% of the tow is not analysed but archived immediately, resulting in a library of samples available for further/alternative analysis.

The archive is home to all our samples from routine North Atlantic, South Atlantic and North Pacific tows, in addition to one-off cruises, e.g. circumnavigation of the Arctic collected in 2012. Please contact us if you are interested in accessing our International Sample Archive, or would like more information on what is available.

CPR Survey data philosophy

The CPR Survey has an open and transparent approach to data availability, data requests and data citation. The Survey believes its plankton observation, ancillary datasets and associated metadata should be freely available to collaborating researchers. Increasing the number of scientists that can access and work with CPR Survey datasets will accelerate the progress of marine ecological science and understanding; enhancing the societal benefit derived from Survey data.

To find out more about our data, and for information on how to access them, please visit our data portal at https://www.cprsurvey.org/data/our-data/