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Introduction

Introduction (What is COPEPOD?)   <   NMFS-COPEPOD (main)
Coastal & Oceanic Plankton Ecology, Production & Observation Database
COPEPOD (aka "NMFS-COPEPOD") is an effort by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, aka "NOAA Fisheries") to provide investigators with an integrated data set of quality-controlled, globally distributed plankton abundance, biomass and composition data, along with co-sampled environmental data.   NMFS-COPEPOD is designed to help the investigator easily see exactly what data are currently available and then download it in a usable format.   In addition to data distribution maps, NMFS-COPEPOD offers a variety of content summaries and searching options (see the CONTENTS and SEARCH sections).

NMFS-COPEPOD makes every effort to include investigator, institution, and project credit for all data present. Without them, this database could not exist.   This information is present in the data summaries and also in the HALL OF FAME section.   Unfortunately some of the older original data formats did not include this information, and it was lost.   If you are familiar with the project, institution, or investigators of a data summary which is missing this information, please let us know and we will add it.   Likewise, if you have or are aware of any other available plankton data, please let us know.   The Hall of Fame features investigators and contributors.   (You can remain anonymous, too, if you choose.)

NMFS-COPEPOD first went online on in August of 2004.   Full database content and method summaries are released every other year (e.g. COPEPOD-2007, COPEPOD-2005), with new data content added and immediately available online each month.   Global mean fields of zooplankton biomass are also available ( "COPEPOD-2005" ).

Making data accessible (and usable) ...
To study plankton abundance or biomass data over an entire ocean or the world, an investigator would first need to compile data from tens or even hundreds of different sampling cruises, institutes, and projects.  Many of these data, especially the historical data, may be in a non-digital format (e.g., paper cruise reports and data tables) that are scattered among numerous institutions and libraries across the globe.  If the manuscripts can even be obtained by the investigator, they would then need to be digitized to be accessible.  With more recently sampled plankton data, the data may be available on CD-ROM and/or project web sites.  However, due to the complex and descriptive nature of plankton data, these data are often stored in a multitude of different formats and layouts.  That means that after obtaining all of the data, the investigator would then be faced with tens to hundreds of different data formats which must be reformatted and combined into a single database before comparisons and analysis can even begin!

The purpose of NMFS-COPEPOD is to provide investigators with an integrated data set of quality-controlled, globally distributed plankton biomass and abundance data, along with any collocated physical, chemical, and biological oceanographic variables, in a common electronic format with supporting documentation and access software.  By doing this, NMFS-COPEPOD allows the investigator to spend their time analyzing the data rather than compiling it.

NMFS-COPEPOD places special emphasis on preserving adequate metadata (information about the collecting and processing methods) to ensure that the data in this database are useful in the present and future. Perhaps the most important piece of metadata is acknowledgment for the people that originally collected and processed the plankton samples. Without their efforts and expertise, these data, and NMFS-COPEPOD itself, would not exist. When available, the collecting investigators, projects, and institutes are featured in the COPEPOD data summaries and data files. There is also a Hall of Fame, listing investigators and their contributions to the database. Unfortunately, sometimes this information is not available to us, having been lost or separated from the original data before we acquired it. We encourage our users to report missing or incorrect information. We also encourage our users to consider adding their name to our Hall of Fame, by contributing or referring data sources.

National Marine Fisheries Service  -  Science & Technology  -  Marine Ecosystems Division

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