Skip to main content

Movement patterns of selected insect groups between natural forest, open land and rubber plantation in a tropical landscape (southern Yunnan, SW China)


In many regions of tropical Asia, the expansion of rubber monoculture plantations is conducted by replacement of natural forest areas and strongly affects biodiversity and movement patterns of wild species, including insects. Against this background, we conducted a study on selected insect groups (longhorn beetles, bark beetles, wild bees and hoverflies) along transects between rainforest patches, open uncultivated land and rubber plantation habitats in a region of Xishuangbanna (southern Yunnan, China), with the objectives to identify (a) movement directions and patterns of selected insect groups based on their abundances in modified Malaise traps in the different habitats, and (b) the role of remaining natural rainforest patches and rubber plantations, respectively, for insect diversity maintenance and conservation. The highest total numbers of species and individuals of bark beetles, longhorn beetles and wild bees were recorded from the natural forest edge compared to open land and rubber plantation edge. This result clearly indicates that the natural forest plays an important role in maintenance of these three insect groups. However, the highest number of hoverfly species and individuals was recorded from the open land sites, indicating the most relevant habitat type for this group of species. Overall, the lowest species and individual numbers were recorded from the rubber plantation edge, indicating the unsuitability of this habitat type for all insect groups considered. The distribution of species and individuals in the opposite trap sides along the transect indicates that longhorn beetles, bark beetles and wild bees show not only movements from the forest to the surrounding habitats, but also return back after encountering the unsuitable rubber plantation habitat. Bark beetle composition showed the relatively highest similarity between all trap sites and opposite trap sides among the insect groups considered, indicating a higher movement activity than the other groups. The four insect groups considered in this study show different movement modes between the forest, open land and rubber plantation, which are not the same for all taxa. Except for hoverflies, the natural forest was found to be the most important habitat for the maintenance of species diversity in the different land use types of the study area.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


Download references


We are grateful to Mr. Gong Ai from the local Dai people for the numerous contributions in field work. Dr. Mei-Ying Lin at the National Zoological Museum of China, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing provided some help for species identification. The authors thank two anonymous referees for helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. This study was supported by the funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. NSFC-31200322), the CAS 135 program (XTBG-T03) and West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The work of the third author (K. Martin) was supported by the project SURUMER (Sustainable Rubber Cultivation in the Mekong Region), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) program “Sustainable Land Management”.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ling-Zeng Meng.

Additional information

Ling-Zeng Meng and Xiao-Dong Yang are co-first authors and also contributed equally to this work.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Meng, LZ., Yang, XD., Martin, K. et al. Movement patterns of selected insect groups between natural forest, open land and rubber plantation in a tropical landscape (southern Yunnan, SW China). J Insect Conserv 20, 363–371 (2016).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Insect movement
  • Natural forest
  • Rubber plantation
  • Malaise trap
  • Tropical rainforest