Effects of habitat loss on three insect assemblages in modified ecosystems of foothills of the Colombian Orinoquia
Introduction: The effects of habitat transformation have been widely studied and the effects are well-known at different levels of biological organization. However, few studies have focused on responses to this process at the level of multiple taxa in diverse taxonomic and functional groups. Objective: To determine variations in insect assemblages in a landscape mosaic of Colombian Orinoquia foothills. Methods: We assessed amount of natural habitat and landscape composition in four types of vegetation of Colombian foothills in the Orinoquia region (three each on the highest and lowest rain periods). We collected butterflies with hand nets and used baited pitfall traps for dung beetles and ants. Results: Precipitation caused species turnover to different degrees in the three taxa; and connectivity between different types of plant cover, amount of natural habitat, and pasture type play a fundamental role in the maintenance of insect biodiversity in modified ecosystems of the foothills of the Colombian Orinoquia. However, the assemblages responded differently to habitat change. Conclusions: While connectivity, natural habitat, and pastures affect insect assemblages, the lack of a common pattern shows that several insect groups must be studied for monitoring biodiversity and for conservation.