Coral Reefs

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 199–204

A maritime accident provides evidence for alternate stable states in benthic communities on coral reefs

  • B. G. Hatcher

DOI: 10.1007/BF00288255

Cite this article as:
Hatcher, B.G. Coral Reefs (1984) 3: 199. doi:10.1007/BF00288255


An a posteriori examination of the site of a ship wreck on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef revealed an unique, macroalgal-dominated benthic community. The persistence of community structure throughout a year of observation in an environment characterised by intensely grazed microalgae, and in the absence of a measurable wreck-derived influence, provides circumstantial evidence that it represents an alternative stable state. A mechanism for effecting state shifts in coral reef algal communities involves the size-dependent response by grazing organisms to algae in a perturbed environment.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. G. Hatcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Fisheries ResearchCSIRO Marine LaboratoriesNorth BeachAustralia
  2. 2.Marine Biology LaboratoryUniversity of Western AustraliaNorth BeachAustralia