The distribution of estuarine and oceanic water masses on the southern shore of O'ahu, Hawai'i: Ecological and coastal management implications, and novel methodology

Parnell, P. Ed

Limnol. Oceanogr., 46(6), 2001, 1468-1485 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2001.46.6.1468

ABSTRACT: The distribution of estuarine and oceanic water masses along the shelf of Mamala Bay, O’ahu, Hawaii, were determined by use of larval supply and recruitment patterns of benthic invertebrate species, stable C and N isotopic compositions of the suspension-feeding bivalve, Spondylus tenebrosus, turbidity, drifter, and CTD data. The recruitment of different species among estuaries was used to associate larval species with particular estuarine waters. Recruitment patterns of these species along the shelf were then used to infer water-mass distributions along the shelf. The spatial recruitment pattern of an oceanic lepadomorph barnacle, Conchoderma virgatum, was useful to infer shelf areas exposed to oceanic waters. Water-mass distributions inferred from the recruitment distribution of these species concurred with spatial patterns of turbidity and stable C and N isotopic compositions of S. tenebrosus, as well as drifter observations. Water-mass distributions observed in this study also concurred with biological distributional patterns observed in other studies, such as distributions of phytoplankton and zooplankton and the distribution of coral bio-erosion in the Bay. The ecological implications of this work include further evidence of the physical control of recruitment and biological pattern and the possible control of patch dynamics on the scale of kilometers due to significant recruitment variability at this scale. The prevailing distribution of water masses determined in this study also has important implications for the management of watersheds associated with Mamala Bay.

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