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The long-term effect of typhoons on vascular epiphytes in Taiwan

  • Rebecca C.-C. Hsu (a1), Jan H.D. Wolf (a2), Jer-Min Tsai (a3) and Yi-Chin Lin (a4)


We used all 167 typhoon warnings issued by the Taiwanese Central Weather Bureau from 1958–2006 to assess the long-term effect of cyclone disturbance on vascular epiphytes. Tracks and eyes of past typhoons were plotted as circles with radii of Beaufort scale 7 and 10, and the frequency of each cohort in 1-km2 grid cells was calculated. The presence of vascular epiphytes in the same grid cells was predicted using species distribution models (SDMs). First, we used herbarium specimens and other sources to compile a comprehensive georeferenced vascular epiphyte database that contained 39084 records in 331 species. Next, we assigned each epiphyte record to a cell in the same 1-km2 grid as above. Finally, we used SDMs (MaXent), based on 30 environmental variables except typhoon frequency, to predict the potential presence of each species in the grid cells. For our analysis we only considered cells east of the central mountain ridge where typhoons hit with full force. After elimination of rare species and species that could not be validated in the SDMs, we were left with 156 epiphyte species in 10725 1-km2 cells. The number of projected species in the cells was 36.5 on average, varying between two and 82 species. Correlation analyses showed that, over time, typhoons led to a decrease in epiphyte richness at Beaufort scale 7 and 10 (Pearson's r = −0.07 and −0.08 respectively). Ferns, orchids, hemiepiphytes and dicotyledons generally showed the same pattern, except hemiepiphytes that showed a positive correlation at B7 (Pearson's r = 0.15). A partial canonical correspondence ordination analysis showed that, independent of temperature- and rainfall-related variables, Beaufort scale 7 and 10 typhoons also had significant influence on the species composition of the vascular epiphyte communities in the landscape. We recommend in situ monitoring of epiphytes over a long period to corroborate the suggestion from this indirect study that typhoons have a long-term effect on the distribution of epiphytes in Taiwan.


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