Census and analysis of zooplankton metadata of the French coasts since 1955



In the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), and for the first time, a census and analysis of the available metadata on zooplankton of the French coasts has been undertaken (for both long-term time series and short-term oceanographic cruises). This study allowed us to construct the first ever comprehensive metadatabase on zooplankton within the French metropolitan coastal system, i.e. the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The study focused only on pelagic metazoan zooplankton and demonstrated a wide disparity in the spatial distribution of studies/samples, highlighting some well-sampled areas and others quite unexplored. In addition, it also allowed to highlight the heterogeneity in the zooplankton sampling methods and taxonomic determination level. The wide variety of sampling methods used allows to study the whole zooplankton community, from the smallest organisms (such as nauplii) to the largest (such as euphausiids), through the most delicate (gelatinous). However, it also limits the possibilities for a cross-analysis of the different data. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the data available for a further meta-analysis (in term of sampling method and taxonomic determination). In the context of current and future environmental changes (climate change, ocean acidification, anthropogenic pollution and overfishing), it is essential to identify and analyze all the biological data collected in the different French marine areas. This indispensable preliminary step is essential in defining the environmental status of the marine waters. In the sight of our results, we will provide recommendations toward a harmonization of the procedures followed in further studies on zooplankton, regarding sampling strategy, sampling method as well as taxonomic level of the determination of zooplankton taxa. The aim of these recommendations for the future is to ease further cross-analysis of zooplankton samples performed in different geographic areas, from different cruises and by different researchers.


Marine Strategy Framework Directive; Zooplankton; French coasts; Environmental status; Census; Monitoring

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