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Littoral scrub and rose-crowned fruit-dove

Littoral scrub is extremely important for maintaining the level of diversity on Magnetic Island.

Littoral scrubs are rainforests by the sea and are characterised by many different tree species growing closely together to provide a canopy. They generally have few, if any vines, differentiating them from vine thicket. This littoral scrub is growing on an old sand dune and has formed due to its protection from fire and reasonable access to nutrients and fresh water. This has enabled a high species diversity to establish.

In the dry season many species drop their leaves to conserve moisture. The leaf litter forms a thick layer of mulch over the sandy forest floor, which helps to retain moisture within the soil and keep the soil cool. Following good rain, a flush of new growth is produced and once again the forest produces a shady canopy.

The orange-footed scrub fowl turns over the leaf litter in search of insects and builds extensive nest mounds of leaf litter, earth and sand on the creek bank. The scrub fowls are dark, small- headed ground birds with a short crest and powerful orange legs and feet. They call to each other in a raucous loud voice as they work back and forth through the Littoral scrub.

Rose-Crowned Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus regina)
Rose-Crowned Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus regina)

This littoral scrub contains many tree species, including native banyan (Ficus microcarpa), red kamala (Mallotus philippensis), mango bark (Canarium australianum), white cedar (Melia azedarach), cheesefruit (Morinda citrifolia) and orange banana bush (Tabernaemontana pandacaqui). Some of these species provide fruit for the rose-crowned fruit-dove (Ptilinopus regina), superb fruit-dove (Ptilinopus superbus) and the pied imperial pigeon (Ducula bicolor).

The rose crowned and superb fruit-doves are small, beautifully coloured, foliage dwelling pigeons. The rose-crowned fruit-dove is a rarely seen but fairly common rainforest fruit-eater found in littoral scrubs, vine thickets and coastal hillside gullies. Nests are frail platforms of twigs in low vine, other understorey vegetation or paperbarks up to 8m.

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