A mechanism is demonstrated that could explain large-scale aggregations of lipid-rich copepods in the surface waters of marine environments. Laboratory experiments establish that changes in salinity and temperature induce lipid-mediated buoyancy instability that entrains copepods in surface waters. Reduced hydrostatic pressure associated with forced ascent of copepods at fjordic sills, shelf breaks and seamounts would also reduce the density of the lipid reserves, forcing copepods and particularly those in diapause to the surface. We propose that salinity, temperature and hydrodynamics of the physical environment, in conjunction with the biophysical properties of lipids, explain periodic high abundances of lipid-rich copepods in surface waters.
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