, Volume 45, Issue 8, pp 919–932 | Cite as

Multiple-factor classification of a human-modified forest landscape in the Hsuehshan Mountain Range, Taiwan

  • Kevan J. Berg
  • Lahuy Icyeh
  • Yih-Ren Lin
  • Arnold Janz
  • Steven G. Newmaster


Human actions drive landscape heterogeneity, yet most ecosystem classifications omit the role of human influence. This study explores land use history to inform a classification of forestland of the Tayal Mrqwang indigenous people of Taiwan. Our objectives were to determine the extent to which human action drives landscape heterogeneity. We used interviews, field sampling, and multivariate analysis to relate vegetation patterns to environmental gradients and human modification across 76 sites. We identified eleven forest classes. In total, around 70 % of plots were at lower elevations and had a history of shifting cultivation, terrace farming, and settlement that resulted in alder, laurel, oak, pine, and bamboo stands. Higher elevation mixed conifer forests were least disturbed. Arboriculture and selective harvesting were drivers of other conspicuous forest patterns. The findings show that past land uses play a key role in shaping forests, which is important to consider when setting targets to guide forest management.


Community classification Nonmetric multidimensional scaling Landscape history Local knowledge Tayal Mrqwang indigenous people Smangus village 



Evergreen broad-leaved forest


Kuomintang government


Diameter at breast height


Leaf area index


Topographic relative moisture index


Importance value


Nonmetric multidimensional scaling


Multi-response permutation procedure


Indicator species analysis


Vegetation type



We offer special thanks to the families of Smangus village for their tremendous hospitality and generosity in terms of time, resources, and knowledge. Financial support for the research was provided by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) CGS-D and MSFSS graduate scholarships to K.J. Berg, and research grants to S.G. Newmaster from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Many thanks to the staff at the Herbarium of the Research Center for Biodiversity, Academia Sinica, Taipei (HAST) for specimen identifications. We would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr. Shih-Yuan Lin for GIS support, Yi-Ling Huang for translation work, and Hsin-Han Wang and Jodi Vander Woude for research assistance. We also extend our deep appreciation to two anonymous reviewers of the original manuscript for their thoughtful and constructive reviews.

Supplementary material

13280_2016_794_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (14.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 15275 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevan J. Berg
    • 1
  • Lahuy Icyeh
    • 2
  • Yih-Ren Lin
    • 3
  • Arnold Janz
    • 4
  • Steven G. Newmaster
    • 5
  1. 1.Integral Ecology Group, Ltd.DuncanCanada
  2. 2.Smangus CommunityJianshiTaiwan
  3. 3.Graduate Institute of Humanities in Medicine (GIHM)Taipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA)EdmontonCanada
  5. 5.Centre for Biodiversity GenomicsUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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