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SERPENTINE ECOSYSTEM OF COCKSCOMB
  • Serpentine is a rock formed where there is intense tectonic movement of the earth’s crust, generally along major fault lines.  Outcrops of serpentine rock and soils are not common world wide.  Central Queensland contains 63.8% of the serpentine located in Queensland.

  • In the old Livingstone Shire area it surfaces in areas of variable size at Balnagowan, Keppel Sands, Cawarral, Milman, Glen Geddes, Marlborough and South Percy Island.  Ten woody species are unique to the serpentine in this shire as opposed to only two species to the north and south.

  • The serpentine soils have elevated levels of magnesium, iron, nickel, cobalt and chromium which makes it toxic to many plants.  The vegetation which has adapted to these soils exhibits many unusual and unique features.
  • Serpentine vegetation is described as Eucalypt woodland or open forest dominated by Ironbarks and Bloodwoods over a grassy ground layer containing many grass trees.
    Some species found only on serpentine in Livingstone Shire are as per the table below

 

Corymbia Xanthope

serpentine bloodwood

nationally vulnerable

Pimelia leptospermoides

small shrub with white flowers

nationally vulnerable

Stackhousia tryonii
photos below

low growing purple flower, with slender stem and leaves

nationally rare

Stackhousia accumulates more nickel in its leaves than any other plant in Australia

Eucalyptus fibrosa sub sp  Glen Geddes serpentine ironbark

Neorepera buxifolia

(in small area of Marlborough)

nationally vulnerable

Callistemon species with huge trunk (Marlborough)

These Marlborough species appear to grow on alluvial soil high in magnesium.


Also notable for their presence are grass trees and cycads, particularly cycas ophiolitica.
The serpentine geology within Livingstone Shire gives rise to a unique community of plants and animals.  There is a general lack of understanding of the threatened ecosystem, its biological species and its different soil properties.  In the past many areas have been cleared for a variety of reasons.  In some parts it has been adversely affected by excessive fire.  Because of the possibility of increased impact due to population expansion and infrastructure development it is important to increase awareness and recognition of this vulnerable and beautiful ecosystem and its values.