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Jamaican coral reefs

Main Contributors:

Albert Norström

Other Contributors:


The archetypical example of a coral reef regime shift is the dramatic transition from coral dominance (52% coral cover, 4% algal cover) to macroalgal dominance (2% coral cover, 92% algal cover) which occurred on Jamaican reefs in the 1980s as a result of the synergistic impacts of overfishing, hurricane damage and disease. Similar examples of coral-macroalgae shifts have been observed across the Caribbean region, throughout the Eastern-Pacific, Indian Ocean and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Type of regime shift

Ecosystem type

  • Marine & coastal

Land uses

  • Large-scale commercial crop cultivation
  • Fisheries
  • Mining
  • Tourism

Spatial scale of the case study

  • Local/landscape (e.g. lake, catchment, community)

Continent or Ocean

  • North America


  • Caribbean


  • Jamaica

Locate with Google Map

Key References

  1. Hughes TP. 1994. Catastrophes, phase-shifts, and large-scale degradation of a Caribbean coral reef. Science 265, 1547-1551.


Albert Norström. Jamaican coral reefs. In: Regime Shifts Database, Last revised 2011-03-03 10:08:25 GMT.
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