Vegetation of boreal coniferous forests has been extensively studied in many areas of northern Eurasia and North America, but similar forests in the high mountains of subtropical and tropical eastern Asia have been poorly documented so far. This paper, focusing on such forests, is the first phytosociological study at a national scale in Taiwan. The relevés from the National Vegetation Diversity Inventory and Mapping Project database were used to define vegetation types of the high-mountain coniferous forests and to characterize their distribution in Taiwan. Environmental variables such as aspect, elevation, soil rockiness and slope were related to species composition. Cluster analysis was used to classify vegetation plots and establish groups that were interpreted as nine associations belonging to two alliances. The alliance Juniperion squamatae represents woodlands and forests scattered in the subalpine belt, in which Juniperus squamata dominates the canopy and subalpine meadow species occur in the understorey. The Abieti kawakamii-Tsugion formosanae alliance includes forests dominated by Abies kawakamii and Tsuga chinensis var. formosana with shade-tolerant herb species in the upper montane belt. In addition to regional vegetation description, an identification key for the studied forests was developed based on the classification tree technique.
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