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Introduction - Overview


The Atlas of Hawaiian Watershed and Their Aquatic Resources was created to provide an accounting of the information on watersheds, streams, and the animals that inhabit the streams available to the resource managers at the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). Management issues surrounding Hawaiian streams are numerous, and it is difficult to find appropriate balance between the varied uses of stream water, stream ecosystems, and stream animals.  Water issues range widely: How much water should be left in the stream to protect the stream animals as compared to how much can be diverted for human use (instream flow quantity issues)?  How much pollution can be naturally handled by the stream, and how much is too much (water quality issues)? What is critical habitat for the protection of Hawaii’s unique native stream animals (habitat quantity, quality, and animal population issues)? These are just a few of the issues facing resource managers that are trying to assure the continuation of the incomparably beautiful Hawaiian stream ecosystems and their unique animals.

As the world has moved from information stored on papers in file cabinets to digital information stored on computers, DAR and Bishop Museum have done the same. This Atlas represents a large milestone in conversion of Hawaiian stream information to a digital format. Information on a number of different types of stream surveys collected by state biologists back to 1960 has been included. We also asked for and received information and publications from the professional stream research community. We digitized and recorded the information from over 275 papers on Hawaiian streams. This information represents a vast field effort by researchers because a typical paper may take weeks, months, or even years to collect the data. Currently, over 90,000 animal observations are included this Atlas, with millions of pieces of information associated with those observations. While this is a huge amount of information, there is more information “out there”, and we hope that seeing this Atlas will encourage people to send additional information to DAR to be included in the DAR Aquatic Surveys Database and made available to aid in the management of Hawaiian streams statewide.

The Atlas of Hawaiian Watershed and Their Aquatic Resources and the database that stores the information presented in the Atlas are designed to be continually updated with new information. Thus, this Atlas is to be viewed as a “living document.” As new information becomes available, a new version of the watershed information can be generated. We provided a date on the bottom of each page to show when the database was accessed to create the watershed description. In this version of the Atlas, all information contained in the database on April 8, 2008 is represented. New surveys, publications, and finds of old information continually happen, and we will strive to provide regular updates of the information presented in the Atlas.

Overall, there were several purposes for creating the Atlas of Hawaiian Watershed and Their Aquatic Resources. These include:

  • Provide a means to make stream data available to researchers, resource managers, and the general public,
  • Provide comparative information on what is known about each stream,
  • Use as baseline information for the management of streams statewide,
  • Provide a platform to link other data sources (e.g., terrestrial information) to aquatic resource data for “ahupua’a” management, and
  • Create a continuously growing document that can be easily updated with new information.



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