Located in subtropical zone, Taiwan has various types of ecosystems from flat land to high mountain areas, including broad-leaved forests, coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forests, coniferous forests, Alpine grassland and Alpine tundra. There are also crisscrossing valleys and other complicated topography on the island. Such unique landscape gives rise to a rich diversity of mammals, abundant in number and widely spread. They have different habits and inhabit different ecosystems accordingly. There are around 70 species of mammals, representing 8 orders and 20 families, in terrestrial areas of Taiwan, including 17 species endemic to Taiwan.
These mammals are briefly categorized as following swhich based on the ecosystems they inhabit:
- Broad-leaved Forest
This type of ecosystem is found at altitudes less than 1,500m. There are abundant species of virgin broad-leaved plants. The dominant species are Fagaceae, Lauraceae and Moraceae. Complicated forest environment provides sufficient food and proper habitats for varieties of wild animals. However, these forests are located at lower altitude areas, so some of them have been turned into secondary forests, artificial forests, or even orchards, ranches or industrial parks, leading to a gradual shrinkage in wild animal populations. Mammals living in this type of ecosystem include Formosan wild boar, Formosan rock-monkey, Formosan reeve’s muntjac, Red-bellied tree squirrel, Formosan giant flying squirrel, Formosan pangolin, Formosan hare, leopard cat, Crab-eating mongoose, Formosan gem-faced civet, Formosan Ferret-Bedger and other small mammals, such as members of Soricidae, Muridae and Vespertilionidae.
- Coniferous and Broad-leaved Mixed Forest
This type of ecosystem is found in mountain areas at altitudes around 1500-2500m. It has various species of plants. The dominant brad-leaved species are Fagaceae and Lauraceae, while the dominant coniferous species are Taiwan red false-cypress, Taiwan red pine, Taiwania and Lunta fir. Intensive deforestation of broad-leaved forests at lower altitudes have forced many animals moved to mountain areas at higher altitudes, making this type of ecosystem is an important habitat of Taiwan’s wild animals. Mammals inhabiting this type of ecosystem include Formosan black bear, Formosan sambar, Formosan serow, Formosan wild boar, Formosan rock-monkey, Formosan reeve’s muntjac, Red-bellied Tree Squirrel, Formosan stripped squirrel, Formosan giant flying squirrel, White-faced flying squirrel, Formosan hairy-footed flying squirrel, leopard cat, Formosan weasel, Formosan gem-faced civet and other small mammals, such as Formosan field mouse, Spinous country-rat, Formosan greater horseshoe bat, Formosan long-eared bat, etc.
- Coniferous Forest
This type of ecosystem is located in mountain areas at altitudes around 2500-3500m. The major plant species are Taiwan hemlock and Taiwan white fir. They often neighbor with grassland of Pseudosasa usawai or Juniperus Sqyanata Lamb.var. morrisonicola(Hayata) at higher altitudes and mix with Taiwan Spruce and Taiwan Red Pine at lower altitudes. Most of the coniferous forests are pure forests. Mammals inhabiting this type of ecosystem include Formosan black bear, Formosan sambar, Formosan serow, Formosan wild boar, Formosan rock-monkey, Formosan reeve’s muntjac, Formosan stripped squirrel,Owston’s Squirrel, White-faced flying squirrel, Formosan weasel, and other small mammals, such as Formosan field mouse, Formosan white-bellied rat, Formosan mountain field vole, Formosan shrew, etc.
- Alpine Tundra
This type of ecosystem is located in high mountain areas at altitudes more than 3500m. The rocks are outcropped and drastically weathered. Soil is seldom accumulated on rock layers, so there are only few plant species. Plants commonly occurring here include Berberis morrisonensis Hayata, Juniperus Sqyanata Lamb.var. morrisonicola(Hayata), Angelica morrisonicola Hayata, Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum Hayata. Mammals inhabiting this type of ecosystem include Formosan black bear, Formosan serow, Formosan weasel, Formosan white-bellied rat, etc.
- Alpine Grassland
This type of ecosystem is located in mountain areas at altitudes around 2000-3500m. The dominant plant species is Pseudosasa usawai. Mammals here are mostly small-sized animals, such as Formosan white-bellied rat and Formosan mountain field vole. Formosan weasels that feed on small mammals and herbivorous Formosan serows are also seen here.