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Free Content Environmental Features and Macrofauna of Kahana Estuary, Oahu, Hawaii

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Lack of ecological information on Hawaiian estuaries prompted an intensive 2-year study of a small (5.7 ha) stream-mouth estuary on windward Oahu. Water quality and macrofauna were sampled weekly at seven stations. The water mass was strongly stratified vertically except during freshets. Average values for water column temperature and bottom salinity were 23.2°C and 12‰ at the head to 28.3°C and 28‰ at the mouth. Dissolved oxygen saturation in the water column varied from about 50% at night to 140% in the afternoon. Usually, bottom waters were 3–6°C warmer than surface waters and sometimes showed severe oxygen depletion.

Macrofauna, collected primarily by seining, consisted mainly of decapod crustaceans (four species of crabs, seven species of shrimps) and fishes (24 species). Other typical estuarine taxons (mollusks, barnacles, polychaetes) were scarce or absent. Diversity increased seaward from 14 species near the estuary head to 29 species near the mouth. Three species of crustaceans and six of fishes were captured at all stations. Most abundant were the native prawn, Macrobrachium grandimanus, and mullet, Mugil cephalus. Perennially resident adults occurred among crustaceans and gobioid fishes; most other fishes were present as juveniles and sporadic adults. Comparisons with other data suggest that more than 50 species of native fishes may occur in Hawaiian estuaries, and that estuarine macrofaunal diversity on oceanic islands is much lower than on continents at similar latitudes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1981

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