Patterns of juvenile habitat use by two species of kuhliid fishes (āholehole) on the island of Hawai'i were examined. Kuhlia sandvicensis was observed in marine habitat types only, but juvenile K. xenura were observed in freshwater streams, estuaries, on reef flats, along rocky shorelines, and in tide-pool habitats. Principal components analysis indentified nonrandom microhabitat selection by juvenile K. sandvicensis and K. xenura. Both species selected microhabitats that were higher in salinity and temperature and nearer to the open ocean than were areas randomly available to them. Although distributions of juvenile K. sandvicensis and K. xenura overlapped in marine habitats, characteristics of the marine microhabitats used by each species differed. Along rocky shorelines, K. sandvicensis used microhabitats that were characteristic of high-energy surge zones—deep areas close to the open ocean that had high salinities. The rocky shorelines most frequently inhabited by K. xenura, conversely, were shallower areas that were farther from the open ocean with lower salinity. A similar pattern was observed in tide-pool habitats, with K. sandvicensis using microhabitats typical of surge zones, and K. xenura utilizing protected tide pools with low salinities. Protection of a variety of inshore habitats is important for conservation of juvenile Hawaiian kuhliid fishes.
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Vol. 65 • No. 4