Ecosystem Monitoring of the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf: Plankton Dataset
We collect plankton samples from the Northeast U.S. continental shelf throughout the year, every year, and make that data available to everyone.
Thousands of species spend part or all of their life cycle floating in the ocean at the mercy of wind, waves, and currents. These organisms, called plankton, are food for many species including commercially important fish species and large whales. The egg and larval stage of many fish and large invertebrate species are also plankton.
Plankton data can help us:
- Estimate how many fish were in an area to spawn
- See how populations are shifting or changing their habitat due to environment change and other stressors
- Understand the state of our marine ecosystems
We collect, maintain, and make available the most comprehensive plankton dataset for the Northeast U.S. shelf and surrounding areas. Instructions for how to access that data are below.
Accessing the Data
Our EcoMon plankton data are publicly accessible online through the National Centers for Environmental Information
The data are from our four longest running programs:
- Marine Resources Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction program (MARMAP; 1977– 1987)
- Herring – Sandlance (1988–1994)
- Georges Bank Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC; 1995–1999)
- Ecosystem Monitoring (EcoMon; 1992–present)
US DOC/NOAA/NMFS > Zooplankton and ichthyoplankton abundance and distribution in the North Atlantic collected by the Ecosystem Monitoring (EcoMon) Project from 1977-02-13 to 2019-11-11 (NCEI Accession 0187513). [indicate subset used]. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Dataset. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/archive/accession/0187513. Accessed [date].
About the Data
Zooplankton (92 taxa) and ichthyoplankton (45 taxa) in the public dataset represent the most abundant taxa on the Northeast U.S. shelf, and have the best quality assurance and quality control measures.
For example, we provide a single value for all Euphausiacea and multiple values for individual species (e.g., Thysanoessa inermis, Meganyctiphanes norvegica, Euphausia americana). Euphausiacea abundance includes the values for the individual taxa so you need to be careful not to double count abundances when examining these groups. The metadata includes the taxa codes included for each category.
Kane, J. (2007) Zooplankton abundance trends on Georges Bank, 1977-2004. ICES Journal of Marine Science 64(5):909-919. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsm066
Richardson, D.E., J.A. Hare, W.J. Overholtz, D.L. Johnson (2010) Development of long-term larval indices for Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) on the northeast US continental shelf. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67 (4), 617-627. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsp276
Kane, J. (2011) Inter-decadal variability of zooplankton abundance in the Middle Atlantic Bight. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science 43: 81-92. doi: https://doi.org/10.2960/J.v43.m674
Walsh, H.J., D.E. Richardson, K.E. Marancik, J.A. Hare (2015) Long-Term Changes in the Distributions of Larval and Adult Fish in the Northeast U.S. Shelf Ecosystem. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137382. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137382.
Simpson, C.A., M.J. Wilberg, H. Bi, A.M. Schueller, G.M. Nesslage, and H.J. Walsh (2016) Trends in Relative Abundance and Early Life Survival of Atlantic Menhaden during 1977-2013 from Long-Term Ichthyoplankton Programs. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 145: 1139-1151, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2016.1201004
Morse, R.E., K.D. Friedland, D. Tommasi, C. Stock, J. Nye (2017) Distinct zooplankton regime shift patterns across ecoregions of the US Northeast continental shelf Large Marine Ecosystem. Journal of Marine Systems 165, 77-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2016.09.011
For questions or more information, contact Harvey Walsh