Dung beetles (Scarabaeinae y Aphodiinae) were used to evaluate the effects of human activities in the area surrounding La Planada Natural Reserve, southwestern Colombia. During 1993 we monitored three habitats: primary and secondary forest, and open fields used for cattle grazing. A total of 55 296 trap / hours, evenly distributed among the three habitat types, captured 9 115 individuals (18 species, 11 genera). There were differences in species richness between habitats (F 2,9 = 29.88; P < 0.001), an in number of individuals (F 2, 9 = 36.22; P < 0.001). Collecting sites differed within habitats. Cluster analyses show that species composition differs between habitats with and without tree cover. Open areas act as barriers for movements of forest species. Differences between habitats and collecting sites may reflect high environmental heterogeneity, land use history of the sites or the influence of nearby disturbance. Some of the species found in open fields come from lower elevations and are usually associated with intense human disturbance. The proportion of digging and rolling species is similar in both primary and secondary forest, nocturnal species are more abundant; in open areas rolling species are absent and the number of diurnal species increases. We found no relationship between rainfall and species richness (r2 = 0.26; P = 0.41), nor between rainfall and number of individuals collected throughout the year (r2 = 0.07; P = 0.84). For all species the number of individuals collected decreased during dry season and during the onset of the rainy season.