Original Paper

Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 131-139

First online:

Distribution of ground-dwelling beetles in fragmented tropical habitats

  • Lorraine H. L. GormleyAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of EdinburghSchool of the Environment and Natural Resources, University of Wales Email author 
  • , Peter A. FurleyAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Edinburgh
  • , Allan D. WattAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology

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The conservation of biodiversity is increasingly dependent on human-altered habitats. In a fragmented forest landscape in northern Costa Rica within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, an area of great conservation importance, we compared the diversity and composition of ground-dwelling beetle communities in five habitat types along a gradient of increasing disturbance: primary forest, logged forest, secondary forest, plantation (Gmelina arborea) and pasture. Using pitfall trapping we captured a total of 1,877 beetles (Coleoptera), comprising 422 morphospecies in 26 families. The plantation sites had the lowest number of species followed by secondary forest and pasture. Multivariate analysis separated the beetle fauna according to land use, and suggested that only the logged forest maintains a similar species assemblage to primary forest. However, each habitat harboured a number of unique species indicating the conservation value of the mosaic of habitats found in fragmented landscapes. Our results suggest that to maintain forest beetle species diversity it is essential that areas of natural forest are conserved. However, other land uses also provide beetle habitats and in fragmented areas active management to maintain a mosaic of land uses will contribute to the conservation of beetle diversity.


Biodiversity conservation Coleoptera Costa Rica Fragmentation Neotropics