The purpose of this study was to investigate how forests on subtropical mountains, which resembled tropical and temperate forests, were assembled, and to examine the compression and overlap of vegetations. We established 344 sample plots (400 m2) located at different altitudinal gradients ranging from 16 to 3,500 m above sea level (ASL) in Hsueshan Range northern Taiwan. Vegetation types were classified by TWINSPAN and the results of DCA were used to analyze the changes in vegetation types along elevation. Vegetation I was composed of the species of Euphorbiaceae, Moraceae, and Rubiaceae, which were taxa of tropical floristic elements, and the extent of this vegetation was limited below 1,500 m ASL. Vegetation II was defined into two subtypes, which were distributed from 1,000 to 2,500 m ASL, and were composed predominantly of Chamaecyparis and Tsuga, respectively. Our data also revealed that vegetation II contained co-dominants of species from families Lauraceae and Fagaceae. Moreover, evergreen broadleaved trees similar to tropical mountain forests were found to have narrower altitudinal ranges on subtropical mountains, whereas coniferous forests resembled temperate areas and were characterized by endemic conifer species. Vegetation III, from 2,500 to 3,500 m ASL, was characterized by endemic conifer species, Abies and Tsuga. Interestingly, deciduous forest was almost absent in this area and Fagus was the only tree type on a small mountain ridge. Data obtained from this study will help in raising conservation awareness for subtropical mountains since unique patterns of compression and overlap characteristics of tropical and temperate resembling forests were evident.
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