Research Article
Research Article
Early successional dynamics of ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) in the tropical dry forest ecosystem in Colombia
expand article infoGloria Maria Ariza, Jorge Jácome, Héctor Eduardo Esquivel§, D. Johan Kotze|
‡ Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia
§ Universidad del Tolima, Ibagué, Colombia
| University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Open Access


Little is known about the successional dynamics of insects in the highly threatened tropical dry forest (TDF) ecosystem. For the first time, we studied the response of carabid beetles to vegetal succession and seasonality in this ecosystem in Colombia. Carabid beetles were collected from three TDF habitat types in two regions in Colombia: initial successional state (pasture), early succession, and intermediate succession (forest). The surveys were performed monthly for 13 months in one of the regions (Armero) and during two months, one in the dry and one in the wet season, in the other region (Cambao). A set of environmental variables were recorded per month at each site. Twenty-four carabid beetle species were collected during the study. Calosoma alternans and Megacephala affinis were the most abundant species, while most species were of low abundance. Forest and pasture beetle assemblages were distinct, while the early succession assemblage overlapped with these assemblages. Canopy cover, litter depth, and soil and air temperatures were important in structuring the assemblages. Even though seasonality did not affect the carabid beetle assemblage, individual species responded positively to the wet season. It is shown that early successional areas in TDF could potentially act as habitat corridors for species to recolonize forest areas, since these successional areas host a number of species that inhabit forests and pastures. Climatic variation, like the El Niño episode during this study, appears to affect the carabid beetle assemblage negatively, exasperating concerns of this already threatened tropical ecosystem.


Climatic variation, ENSO, environmental variables, natural recovery, seasonality


Tropical dry forest (TDF) is considered the most threatened tropical ecosystem in South America and Africa (Janzen 1988; Miles et al. 2006) and is simultaneously one of the lesser-known ecologically (Sánchez-Azofeifa et al. 2005). Recent studies have shown that TDF has high levels of beta diversity and endemism, which could be lost if inappropriate conservation strategies are applied (Banda-R et al. 2016). In the Americas, Colombia hosts extensive dry forest areas (Miles et al. 2006). However, with high anthropogenic pressure, these forests are historically characterized by high levels of fragmentation (Etter et al. 2008), which in turn results in a reduction in habitat connectivity (Balzotti et al. 2020), ecosystem functions and services (Balvanera et al. 2011). Today, only 8% of the original TDF in Colombia remains (Pizano et al. 2016). An example is TDF in the Valley of the Magdalena River in Colombia, which has experienced intensive agriculture resulting in a heterogeneous landscape (Fernández-Méndez et al. 2014), with most forest patches reduced to less than 30 ha in size (Pizano et al. 2016). This landscape mosaic is characterized by areas at various stages of succession, similar to other countries (Quesada et al. 2009), which generate potential sources for spontaneous succession (Prach 2003). Spontaneous succession is considered a cheap and rapid recovery tool (Prach and Pyšek 2001), which in the case of TDF could improve connectivity, at least for poorly dispersing insects species (Aparício et al. 2018). As such, the application of conservation strategies and ecological restoration is of paramount importance (Vargas and Ramírez 2014), especially since TDF succession is slow compared to wet tropical forest (Murphy and Lugo 1986), because water is a limiting factor when it comes to recovery (Fajardo et al. 2013).

Knowledge on succession, defined as species turnover with time (Walker and del Moral 2003), is necessary to understand changes experienced by communities due to anthropogenic disturbances as well as the activities necessary for their recovery (Prach 2003; Prach and Walker 2011). Since insects are a major component of terrestrial ecosystems (Samways 1994; Schowalter 2006; Scudder 2009), knowledge on how they respond to succession is paramount. Yet, tropical insects do not show consistent patterns during succession and appear to be highly dynamic; their response to succession depends on the community variable evaluated (species richness, diversity or abundance), the region, and type of disturbance (e.g., Hilt et al. 2006; Neves et al. 2010a; Hernández et al. 2014; Nyafwono et al. 2014). For TDF insects, successional pathways are also difficult to predict, since changes are related to seasonal variability (Neves et al. 2010a). Seasonal fluctuations in insects in TDF are well document (e.g., Noguera-Martínez et al. 2007; Pérez and Zaragoza 2016; Corona-López et al. 2017; Noguera et al. 2018), however, peaks in species richness are not clear when successional stages are included (e.g., Neves et al. 2010b). Additionally, taxa occupying different forest strata respond differently to succession; e.g., dung beetles and hypogaeic ant richness change with succession (Neves et al. 2010a; Marques et al. 2017), while arboreal and epigaeic ant do not (Neves et al. 2010b; Marques et al. 2017). The mechanisms of these differences are not completely understood, but may be related to specific resource use and abiotic requirements (Neves et al. 2014).

Carabidae is a large coleopteran family (ca. 34,000 species) (Bousquet 2010), extensively distributed and with high abundance (Larochelle and Larivière 2003), making them a prevalent model organism, especially in the temperate region (Koivula 2011). The well-documented information about its taxonomy and biology, and its response to environmental change helped in its wide used as bioindicators (Koivula 2011; Kotze et al. 2011). However, in the Neotropics, little is known about this group (Lucky et al. 2002; Rainio and Niemelä 2003; Martínez 2005; Maveety et al. 2011). One considerable hurdle is taxonomy with few identification keys and a great number of undescribed species (Lucky et al. 2002; Maveety et al. 2011; Erwin et al. 2015). Knowledge on carabid beetles in TDF is scarce, with most studies dealing with assemblage characterization (Arenas et al. 2013; Uribe and Vallejo 2013; Arenas and Ulloa-Chacón 2016). Baseline information on how carabid beetle assemblages respond to succession, and their seasonal dynamics in TDF, is urgently needed both from an ecological and conservation perspective. The present study is the first to investigate these issues in this highly threatened ecosystem.

The overall aims of our study were to investigate carabid beetle assemblage changes during early succession in TDF in Colombia, and their response to environmental variables along this successional process. Furthermore, given the strong seasonality experienced in this ecosystem, and that the data were collected during an El Niño event (Varotsos et al. 2016; Whitfield et al. 2019), we evaluate the response of this group to wet and dry periods. The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a periodic climatic event that affects inter-annual rainfall regimes. In Colombia, it consists of a dry episode with a precipitation deficit and raising air temperatures (Poveda et al. 2000). It can produce severe droughts as has happened in Colombian TDF during the study period (Montealegre 2014).

We hypothesize that the carabid beetle assemblage in early successional TDF is speciose with high abundance compared to forest (e.g., Magura et al. 2015; Barber et al. 2017), due to the arrival of open-habitat and habitat generalist species (similar to temperate ground beetles) (e.g., Nagy et al. 2016). If the majority of carabid species of the TDF matrix are polyphagous predators (Lövei and Sunderland 1996) and habitat generalists (Rainio and Niemelä 2003) (as in other ecosystems), they will benefit from exploiting resources in the initial stages of TDF recovery, where resources are heterogeneous (Lebrija-Trejos et al. 2009). We also expect carabid beetles to respond to architectural attributes of the habitat, like vegetation cover and leaf litter (e.g., Molnár et al. 2001), since cover and litter influence environmental conditions (Facelli and Pickett 1991; Lebrija-Trejos et al. 2011), and are considered important in structuring carabid assemblages (Koivula et al. 1999; Antvogel and Bonn 2001). However, we expect that soil humidity will be a major factor that affects ground beetles in this ecosystem, because i) it has been showed to influence carabid assemblages (Niemelä et al. 1992; Kaizuka and Iwasa 2015; Fidan and Sirin 2016), ii) water is a structuring and limiting factor of dry forest (Maass and Burgos 2011), and iii) dry habitat carabid beetles synchronize their life cycle to optimal soil humidity conditions (Paarmann 1979; Paarmann et al. 1986). Other insects in TDF have shown to be influenced by soil/litter humidity, which are linked to precipitation (García et al. 2001; Rangel-Acosta and Martínez-Hernández 2017).

Materials and methods

Study areas

The study was performed in the tropical dry forest biome in the Valley of the Magdalena River region (Colombia), in the municipalities of Armero-Tolima (305 m a.s.l.) and Cambao-Cundinamarca (294 m a.s.l.), both of which consist of a matrix of forest, pasture, and crops (Fig. 1). The average annual temperature is 27.4 °C in Armero and 28.5 °C in Cambao. Annual precipitation is 746.7 mm and 744.8 mm, respectively. This biome is characterized by two periods of marked drought in December–March and July–September.

The disturbance history of dry forest in this region is highly variable, due to agriculture and cattle ranching (clear-cutting), the use of timber trees (selective cutting) and a volcanic eruption in 1985 (Fernández-Méndez et al. 2014; Esquivel et al. 2016). In Armero the forest patches are of two types: forests that have never been clear-cut but experience selective cutting (see F1–2 in Fig. 1B), and forests with 32 years of primary succession (F3–5 in Fig. 1B). In Cambao (Fig. 1C), forests are areas with 15 years of secondary succession. Using a floristic characterization (Suppl. material 1: Table S1), these forest areas were classified as being at an intermediate stage of succession, defined as arbustive areas with between 10 and 50 years of succession (Nassar et al. 2008).

We collected carabid beetles in three successional stages in Armero and Cambao: pasture as an initial point, early succession (3–7 years of succession), and forest (intermediate successional stage). Each habitat type was replicated three times per area except for the forest and early successional sites in Armero, which had five and four replicates, respectively. This resulted in 12 sites at Armero and 9 sites at Cambao (Fig. 1). The minimum distance between sites within a study area was 240 m and the maximum distance was 2.2 km, while Armero and Cambao are 25 km apart.

Figure 1. 

Geographic location of the study sites A the location of Armero and Cambao in Colombia B Armero C Cambao. Abbreviations: F = forest, ES = early succession, P = pasture. Maps courtesy of DIVA-GIS 7.5 and Google Earth Image 2020. For more details, see the online map at

Carabid beetle sampling

Epigaeic ground beetles were collected using 300 ml transparent pitfall traps (7 cm Ø), which were filled three-quarters of the way with a solution of water and a few drops of detergent. The surveys were performed on a monthly basis (the traps were active for three days per month) for 13 months from June 2015 to June 2016 in Armero. Due to financial constraints, surveys in Cambao were only performed during two months, one in the dry season (December 2015) and one in the wet season (May 2016).

Ten traps were installed at each site along a transect of 100 m, with traps 10 m apart. Each transect was at least 20 m from the edge of the site to minimize edge effects, however, average distance from the edge was 140 m. The catch of the ten traps per site was pooled per visit. A trap was considered “lost” if it disappeared, was flooded, or dried in its entirety: 10.4% of the traps were lost in Armero and 5% in Cambao. Losses were considered in the statistical analyses (see below). Adult carabid beetles (including the subfamily Cicindelinae, see Bousquet 2012) were identified to genus level using taxonomic keys of the region from Martínez (2005) and to species level using taxonomic keys and/or original descriptions from Dejean (1829, 1831), Putzeys (1846, 1866), Reichardt (1967), Ball et al. (1991), Ball and Shpeley (2002, 2009), Vitolo (2004), Will (2005), and Bruschi (2010). However, given the scarcity of taxonomic keys for the Neotropics, some of the identifications should be confirmed. Voucher specimens are deposited in the Entomological Museum of the Universidad del Tolima, Colombia (MENT-UT) (Suppl. material 2: Table S2).

Environmental variables

A set of environmental variables, including soil and air humidity and temperature, leaf litter depth and canopy cover were recorded per month at each site. Soil measurements (humidity and temperature) were taken using an Em50 Decagon digital data logger, which was installed in the vicinity of each transect and programmed to take measurements at 30 min intervals during three hours at midday (between 11:00 and 14:00) and then averaged. Air moisture and temperature were measured 2 cm above ground in the middle of the transect, using an Extech Thermohygrometer. Both soil and air variables were registered once per month in each site during the survey event.

Canopy cover (as a percentage) was calculated with a spherical crown densitometer at each pitfall trap (Lemmon 1956); the 10 measures per transect were averaged. The same was done with leaf litter depth, which was determined using the Kostel-Hughes et al. (1998) method. This method consists of inserting a wooden stick (3 mm in diameter) into the litter until it touched the humus layer. Four litter depth measures were taken per pitfall trap, two at 25 cm distance from the trap and two at 50 cm from the trap (Suppl. material 3: Table S3).

Statistical analyses

Data were analyzed at the individual species and assemblage levels to determine how ground beetles respond to habitat type (forest, early succession, and pasture), environmental variables and seasonality. Analyses were performed on two datasets; Armero (13 months of data), and Armero and Cambao combined (two months of data collected per locality, December 2015 and May 2016).

For both datasets, species richness of each habitat type was calculated using sample-size-based and coverage-based rarefaction/extrapolation curves with Hill numbers (q = 0) (Chao et al. 2014), using the iNEXT package (Hsieh et al. 2016) in R (R Core Team 2020). This approach estimates richness for standardized samples (number of individuals) using a common sample size (114 individuals for Armero and 321 for Armero and Cambao combined) and sample completeness (0.97 for Armero and 0.99 for Armero and Cambao combined). The 95% confidence intervals were calculated using bootstrapping (200 bootstrapped samples).

Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) was used to display the response of the carabid beetle assemblage at Armero to habitat type, seasonality, and the measured environmental variables. The analysis was run with the vegan package (Oksanen 2015) in R, using the Horn measure as similarity index (Jost et al. 2011). The envfit function in vegan was used to evaluate the significance of seasonality and environmental variables in explaining the structure of the beetle assemblage. A permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) test was performed, using the adonis2 function and the Horn similarity measure in vegan, to evaluate whether the carabid beetle assemblages were significantly different between the three habitat types. The beetle catch was standardized to 60 traps per season (wet or dry) per site to take into account lost traps.

Generalized linear models (GLMs) were run in R to relate habitat type (as a factor), environmental variables and seasonality to abundantly collected species in Armero (13 months of data). The most abundant species were analyzed individually (with more than 100 individuals collected), while species of lower abundances were grouped together; models with species of fewer than 100 individuals collected were unstable with unrealistic coefficients and standard errors. Species collected in Armero were analyzed using the glm function in the lme4 package, with the response variable (active density, hereafter referred to as abundance) modelled following a quasi-Poisson distribution (see Ver Hoef and Boveng 2007). The following variables were included in the models: 1) logged trap number as an offset term to account for trap losses (Kotze et al. 2012), 2) habitat type as a factor, 3) season as a two-level factor (dry and wet), and 4) environmental variables (soil and air humidity and temperature, leaf litter depth and canopy cover). To minimize collinearity between environmental variables, a correlation was run using the corrplot package in R. Canopy cover and air humidity and temperature were removed because they correlated strongly with soil temperature (r = -0.72, p < 0.001; r = -0.62, p = 0.004; r = 0.83, p < 0.001, respectively). Then a VIF (variance inflation factor) was run using the car package in R (Fox et al. 2016) to test collinearity of the environmental variables in the final models. Litter depth was removed from the C. alternans model (VIF = 10.94), and soil humidity was removed from the “rest of the species” model (VIF = 5.82).

Generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) were run in R to relate habitat type (as a factor), environmental variables and seasonality to abundantly collected carabid beetle species for Armero and Cambao combined (two months of data per locality). The most abundant species were analyzed individually (with more than 39 individuals collected), while species of lower abundances were grouped together. The glmer function in the lme4 package (Bates et al. 2015) was used to analyze the Armero and Cambao combined dataset. Abundance data (per species) were modelled following a Poisson distribution (see O’Hara and Kotze 2010) and an observation-level random effect was added to deal with possible overdispersion (Harrison 2014). The following fixed effects were included in the GLMM models: 1) logged trap number as an offset term to account for trap losses, 2) habitat type as a factor, 3) season as a two-level factor (dry and wet), and 4) environmental variables (soil and air humidity and temperature, leaf litter depth and canopy cover). Study area (Armero and Cambao) was added as a random term to account for locality effects. Air (r = -0.6, p = 0.001) and soil humidity (r = -0.57, p = 0.002) and air temperature (r = 0.51, p = 0.009) were removed because they correlated with soil temperature. For C. alternans and the “rest of the species” models, canopy cover was removed from the final models (VIF = 5.26, 7.72, respectively). We performed model selection on both GLMs and GLMMs by removing non-significant environmental variable terms one at a time, but habitat type was retained even if statistically insignificant since it was part of the main design. Model validation was performed using the k-fold cross-validation procedure in the R library caret (Kassambara 2018). The predict function was used to predict the number of individuals from the final models. Finally, using the package multcomp and the function glht in R, a Tukey’s HSD post‐hoc test was performed to identify significant differences between habitat type categories.


Distribution of species among habitat types

Eighteen carabid beetle species (182 individuals) were collected in Armero and ten species (355 individuals) in Cambao (Table 1). In Armero, seven species were collected from forest, with Anaulacus piceolus (Chaudoir) exclusively from this habitat type. In pasture, nine species were collected, with Apenes sp. 1, Barysomus hoepfneri Dejean, and Selenophorus parvus Darlington occurring only in this habitat type. Most species were collected from the early succession habitat type (13 species), also with four exclusive species (Apenes sp. 2, Pelecium laevigatum Guérin-Méneville, Stolonis notula Motschulsky, and Stolonis parvulus (Straneo)). However, most exclusive species in these habitat types are singletons, and their habitat preference should be considered with caution. Calosoma alternans (Fabricius) and Megacephala affinis Dejean were the most abundantly collected species (113 and 21 individuals respectively), C. alternans occurring in all habitat types while M. affinis was not present in forest.

Table 1.

Number of individuals of all carabid beetle species collected in each habitat type at Armero and Cambao, Colombia. The season column represents the season during which the species was collected; w = wet, d = dry; capital letter represents the season with the most abundant catch. Abbreviations: F = forest, ES = early succession, P = pasture.

Species Habitat type Total Season
w d w d w d
Anaulacus piceolus (Chaudoir, 1876) 1 1 d
Apenes prasinus Ball & Shpeley, 1992 2 1 1 1 5 dW
Apenes sp. 1 1 1 w
Apenes sp. 2 1 1 d
Athrostictus chlaenioides Dejean, 1829 1 2 3 w
Athrostictus paganus (Dejean, 1831) 1 1 2 dw
Barysomus hoepfneri Dejean, 1829 1 2 3 Dw
Calosoma alternans (Fabricius, 1792) 8 5 17 3 75 5 113 dW
Clivina sp. 1 2 3 Dw
Enceladus gigas Bonelli, 1813 2 2 4 8 dw
Galerita sp. 4 1 1 6 dW
Megacephala affinis Dejean, 1825 3 1 14 3 21 dW
Meotachys sp. 1 1 2 d
Pelecium laevigatum Guérin-Méneville, 1843 1 1 w
Selenophorus parvus Darlington, 1934 2 2 4 dw
Stolonis notula Motschulsky, 1866 1 1 w
Stolonis parvulus (Straneo, 1951) 1 1 d
Tetragonoderus sp. 1 2 3 6 dw
Total number of individuals 18 8 26 16 98 16 182
Total number of species 7 13 9 18
Apenes sp. 3 3 3 d
Apenes morio (Dejean, 1825) 1 1 d
Calosoma alternans (Fabricius, 1792) 1 15 4 273 6 299 dW
Megacephala affinis Dejean, 1825 1 1 7 8 1 2 20 Dw
Megacephala cribrata Steinheil, 1875 10 1 3 2 16 dW
Selenophorus parvus Darlington, 1934 1 1 2 w
Selenophorus woodruffi Ball & Shpeley, 1992 1 1 4 3 9 dW
Selenophorus clypealis Ball & Shpeley, 1992 2 2 w
Stenomorphus angustatus Dejean, 1831 2 2 d
Tetragonoderus sp. 1 1 d
Total number of individuals 3 2 34 16 283 17 355
Total number of species 4 6 7 10

In Cambao, four species were collected from forest, with Apenes morio (Dejean) exclusively so. Early succession and pasture had similar numbers of species (six and seven). Stenomorphus angustatus Dejean was collected exclusively from the early succession habitat type, while pasture had three exclusive species Apenes sp. 3, Selenophorus clypealis Ball & Shpeley, and Tetragonoderus sp. Calosoma alternans and M. affinis were the most abundantly collected species (299 and 20 individuals respectively), both occurring in all habitat types and in both localities (Armero and Cambao). Megacephala affinis was collected abundantly in pasture in Armero, but in the early succession habitat in Cambao. Differences in the assumed preferences of species between Armero and Cambao should be treated with caution given the vastly different sampling intensities between these two regions. Megacephala cribrata Steinheil was also reasonably abundant (16 individuals). Calosoma alternans contributed 62% of the total catch in Armero and 84% in Cambao. It dominated pastures in both localities.

Carabid beetle assemblage structures

Sample size-based rarefaction/extrapolation curves showed no significant differences in species richness between habitat types in either datasets, as reflected by overlapping confidence intervals (Fig. 2). In Armero (13 months of data), early succession habitat appears to host more species than pasture and forest (Fig. 2A, C). Sample completeness (Fig. 2B) for all habitat types ranged between 81% and 97%, and estimated carabid species richness (Hill number q = 0) at 91% sample coverage were 9, 22, and 6 for forest, early succession, and pasture, respectively (Fig. 2C). Rarefaction/extrapolation curves for Armero and Cambao combined showed a different tendency, but with no significant difference between habitat types: forest had the highest number of species (Fig. 2D, F), but also had the lowest sample completeness (28%) (Fig. 2E), with an estimated richness of 22 (at 99% sample coverage), while early succession and pasture had 13 and 12 species, respectively (Fig. 2F).

The NMDS ordination for Armero showed that forest and pasture have characteristic and distinct species assemblages, while the early succession habitat type overlapped in assemblage structure with these other habitat types (Fig. 3). The assemblage in forest and pasture were most homogenous, while the early succession habitat was heterogeneous. Habitat type did not affect the carabid beetle assemblage significantly (PERMANOVA F = 1.281, p = 0.253), but the architectural variables like canopy cover (r2 = 0.342, p = 0.037) and leaf litter depth (r2 = 0.330, p = 0.041) did (Table 2). Although soil and air humidity did not influence the carabid beetle assemblage distribution significantly (r2 = 0.044, p = 0.694; r2 = 0.114, p = 0.380), soil and air temperature did (r2 = 0.452, p = 0.008; r2 = 0.321, p = 0.046), which related positively with the pasture beetle assemblage.

Figure 2. 

Rarefaction and extrapolation richness curves for carabid beetles from Armero (A–C), and Armero and Cambao combined (D–F) A, D comparison of richness between habitats using sample-size-based curves B, E sample completeness curves C, F comparison of richness using coverage-based curves. Abbreviations: F = forest, ES = early succession, P = pasture. Numbers in parentheses denote sample sizes and the observed Hill number (q = 0) (A, D), sample size and the estimated sample coverage (B, E), and the estimated sample coverage and the observed Hill number (q = 0) (C, F), respectively.

Figure 3. 

Non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination of carabid beetle assemblages at Armero (Colombia). Wet and dry season catches were analyzed and plotted separately. The catch in five of the ten forest samples returned zero individuals, and were removed from the analysis. The ellipses indicate 1 SD of the weighted average of site scores of forest (dotted line), early succession (long dashed line), and pasture (solid line). Abbreviations of the significant environmental vectors: soiltemp = soil temperature, airtemp = air temperature, litterdepth = leaf litter depth (cm), canopy = percentage canopy cover. Stress value 0.06.

Table 2.

Correlations (r2 and p-values) of vectors in the non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination of carabid beetle assemblages at Armero (Colombia).

Air humidity 0.114 0.380
Air temperature 0.321 0.046
Soil humidity 0.044 0.694
Soil temperature 0.452 0.008
Canopy cover 0.342 0.037
Leaf litter depth 0.330 0.041
Season 0.061 0.356

Responses of individual species

Calosoma alternans was most abundantly collected from pasture in both datasets (Table 3, Figs 4, 5): this habitat showed significant differences with both forest and early succession habitat types (Table 4). The same tendency was observed for the “rest of the species” group analyzed in Armero and Armero and Cambao combined, although without significant differences between habitat types. The combined Armero and Cambao dataset showed that the genus Megacephala (M. affinis and M. cribrata) was slightly most abundantly collected from early succession, with statistical differences between this habitat type and pasture (Table 4). None of the environmental variables were retained in the models (Table 3), except for litter depth (p = 0.001), which had a negative effect on Megacephala in the Armero and Cambao dataset.

Figure 4. 

Generalized Linear Model predicted (mean ± SE) number of individuals of Calosoma alternans and the remaining carabid beetle species collected from Armero across the three habitat types (forest, early succession, and pasture). Note different y-axis scales.

Figure 5. 

Generalized Linear Mixed Model predicted (mean ± SE) number of individuals of Calosoma alternans, genus Megacephala and the remaining carabid beetle species collected from Armero and Cambao combined across the three habitat types (forest, early succession, and pasture). Note different y-axis scales.

Table 3.

Generalized Linear Model and Generalized Linear Mixed Model results for carabid beetle species and species group (data of less abundant species pooled: Rest of the species) collected at Armero, and Armero and Cambao combined. Coefficients, standard errors (SE), and p-values are shown for intercepts, habitat type, season (wet and dry), and litter depth. Forest habitat type and dry season are in the intercept. Additionally, adjusted R2 and Mean Absolute Error (MAE) values from the k-fold cross-validation model performance procedure are shown.

Intercept Early succession Pasture Season Litter depth MAE
Calosoma alternans Coefficient (SE) -4.911 (0.984) 0.164 (0.887) 1.778 (0.744) 2.411 (0.761) 0.936 5.252
p-value < 0.001 0.855 0.03 0.006
Rest of the species Coefficient (SE) -3.511 (0.408) 0.130 (0.441) 0.830 (0.41) 0.711 (0.311) 0.608 2.159
p-value < 0.001 0.771 0.061 0.037
Armero and Cambao
Calosoma alternans Coefficient (SE) -6.440 (1.396) 3.031 (1.323) 4.860 (1.293) 2.438 (0.577) 0.561 13.26
p-value < 0.001 0.022 < 0.001 < 0.001
Megacephala species grouped Coefficient (SE) -3.169 (0.805) 1.218 (0.84) -0.276 (0.899) -1.688 (0.541) 0.737 1.174
(M. affinis and M. cribrata) p-value < 0.001 0.147 0.758 0.001
Rest of the species Coefficient (SE) -2.424 (0.538) -0.172 (0.665) 0.371 (0.629) 0.197 1.077
p-value < 0.001 0.796 0.555
Table 4.

Tukey’s HSD post‐hoc test results, comparing differences in the number of individuals of the carabid beetle species and species group collected in the three habitat types (forest, early succession, and pasture).

Pasture – Forest Early succession – Forest Early succession – Pasture
Calosoma alternans Coefficient (SE) 1.778 (0.745) 0.164 (0.887) -1.614 (0.622)
p-value 0.043 0.981 0.025
Rest of the species Coefficient (SE) 0.83 (0.41) 0.13 (0.441) -0.7 (0.344)
p-value 0.105 0.952 0.103
Armero and Cambao
Calosoma alternans Coefficient (SE) 4.86 (1.293) 3.031 (1.323) -1.829 (0.587)
p-value < 0.001 0.052 0.004
Megacephala species grouped Coefficient (SE) -0.276 (0.898) 1.218 (0.84) 1.494 (0.476)
(M. affinis and M. cribrata) p-value 0.947 0.303 0.004
Rest of the species Coefficient (SE) 0.371 (0.629) -0.172 (0.665) -0.542 (0.53)
p-value 0.825 0.964 0.56


Seasonality did not affect the carabid beetle assemblage in Armero significantly (r2 = 0.061, p = 0.356) (Table 2), but did so for individual responses of C. alternans in both datasets (p = 0.006 in Armero, p < 0.001 in Armero and Cambao), and for the “rest of species” group (p = 0.037) in Armero (Table 3). Observed species richness was the same between the wet and dry season (14 species each season) in Armero, while Cambao had small differences (6 wet, 8 dry) (Table 1). However, abundances were higher during the wet season for both localities (78% for Armero and 90% for Cambao). These differences were mainly due to C. alternans being significantly more abundant during the wet season (Table 3). When C. alternans is removed, differences between seasons were smaller (66% of the catch during the wet season in Armero, and 62% in Cambao).


This study was performed during an El Niño event (2015/16), which means that the TDF ecosystem experienced harsh conditions, reflected by a considerable decrease in rainfall and an increase in air and soil temperatures (Montealegre 2014). We showed that the carabid beetle catches in both Armero and Cambao did not reach species saturation. Rarefaction/extrapolation curves approached an asymptote in pasture only, and pasture also showed a homogenous assemblage structure, distinct from forest. Early succession assemblage structure was highly heterogeneous, encompassing both forest and pasture, sharing 28% of species with both habitat types. Canopy cover, litter depth and soil and air temperatures were influential variables in structuring the carabid assemblage. Surprisingly, neither soil humidity nor seasonality affected assemblage structure significantly. Finally, C. alternans dominated pasture in both Armero and Cambao, while species of the genus Megacephala (M. affinis and M. cribrata) were more abundant in the early succession habitat type. None of the other species was collected abundantly enough to be analyzed individually.

The epigaeic carabid assemblage in tropical dry forest was species poor but with high dominance, like in other tropical carabid communities (Paarmann et al. 2002; Vieira et al. 2008; Rosero 2010). Only 12% of the species collected had more than 10 individuals, while 46% were singletons or doubletons. This low abundance was reflected in the rarefaction/extrapolation curves, which did not reach an asymptote, suggesting that epigaeic carabid beetle diversity in the TDF is certainly higher than presented here. Although rarity may be common in tropical ecosystems, the pattern we observed could appear as a consequence of an inappropriate sampling method and/or intensity (Magurran and Henderson 2011). Vennila and Rajagopal (1999) recommended more than 35 pitfall traps per site for quantitative studies in tropical agroforests, and Boetzl et al. (2018) showed that the use of guidance barriers could improve the efficiency of the catch. Furthermore, Liu et al. (2007) indicated that pitfall traps do not permit a complete inventory and recommended using light traps as a compliment. Many tropical carabid species live in the canopy (Erwin 1979), and will not be collected using pitfall trapping (see Kotze et al. 2011; Boetzl et al. 2018). To collect TDF carabid beetles more efficiently, we recommend increasing the number of traps and the length of the survey (one complete year of continuous trapping at minimum), use guidance barriers if possible, and include other methods to sample arboreal species. Additionally, high soil and air temperatures during the dry season (see Suppl. material 3: Table S3) result in the rapid evaporation of pitfall trap collecting fluid (Ariza 2016; pers. obs.), and we recommend using deeper pitfall traps with more collecting fluid. Apart from the method used here, the El Niño event, which coincided with our sampling, could be an important component to the depauperate carabid community in TDF. During a previous El Niño event (1996) in the Amazonian rainforest, carabid beetle richness decreased drastically compared with other periods (Lucky et al. 2002). In Mexican TDF, a decrease in Cantharidae beetle richness was also observed during the 1997/8 El Niño event (Pérez and Zaragoza 2016). Finally, the historic use of forest fragments and agricultural practices in pastures may explain the poor carabid community in this landscape. Harvey et al. (2008) indicated that beside severe fragmentation experienced in the TDF, contamination by agro-chemicals and illegal logging could be additional drivers of biodiversity loss. The degree to which these aspects affect carabid beetles in the region remains to be investigated.

The carabid beetle assemblage in the early succession habitat overlapped with assemblages in pasture and forest habitat types, a pattern not observed for dung beetles (Neves et al. 2010a) or arboreal ants (Neves et al. 2010b) in Brazilian TDF, where communities were more distinct between early succession and forest habitat types. Reasons for this discrepancy may be related to habitat complexity and the biology of these groups (Neves et al. 2010a, b). Dung beetles depend on ephemeral resources produced by larger animals that may be more sensitive to changes in the landscape (Hanski 1991), while ground-nesting ants in early successional TDF forage in trees, but do not do so in late successional stages (Neves et al. 2010b). For carabid beetles, early successional TDF sites may provide a mixed environment with elements from both pasture and forest, thus providing a heterogeneity of resources (Lebrija-Trejos et al. 2009) to be exploited by a subset of carabid beetle species. The lack of knowledge of the natural history of tropical species prevents us from identifying the habitat preferences of species found in the TDF early succession habitat type. Despite this, the little knowledge that do exist is reflected in the heterogeneous resource used by the carabid species collected from forest and early successional sites in Armero; Apenes prasinus Ball & Shpeley Clivina sp., and Galerita sp. are related to leaf-litter (Erwin 1991; Larochelle and Larivière 2003; Martínez 2005), while species shared between early succession and pasture (Athrostictus paganus (Dejean), M. affinis and Tetragonoderus sp.) prefer open areas and/or pasture (Larochelle and Larivière 2003; Vitolo 2004; Shpeley et al. 2017). Calosoma alternans (in Armero and Cambao) and M. affinis (Cambao) were present in all habitat types, suggesting that these species are habitat generalists. Indeed, C. alternans can be found in a wide variety of habitats and ecosystems (Gidaspow 1963), but also seems to prefer pastures (Bruschi 2010) as confirmed by our results. Nevertheless, it is difficult to attribute a particular habitat preference to species occurring in the early succession habitat type, partly because ground beetles readily disperse at the local level, even to suboptimal habitat (e.g., Niemelä and Halme 1992; Boetzl et al. 2016; Schneider et al. 2016; Knapp et al. 2019). Resources are heterogeneous and patchy, both at the fine and coarse scale (Wiens 1976; Pickett and Rogers 1997), thus carabid species of different preferences could occasionally occur in early successional stages, even if such habitat is suboptimal to them.

Soil and air temperatures were the only microclimatic variables that influenced the structuring of the carabid assemblage in our study. Carabid beetles, similar to other insects, are poikilothermic and sensitive to temperature (Beck 1983; Neven 2000; Bowler and Terblanche 2008), mainly during egg and larvae stages (Lövei and Sunderland 1996; Potter et al. 2009). Surprisingly, soil humidity did not affect the beetle assemblage, even though moisture is considered important in these dry forests (Balvanera and Aguirre 2006; Espinosa et al. 2011). During 2015/6, one of the strongest El Niño episodes occurred in Colombia (UNGRD 2016), producing a severe rainfall deficit that affected soil humidity negatively. This was reflected in our measurement of soil humidity, where differences between habitat and season were minimal. It is expected that in normal years, seasonality will result in more contrasting differences in soil humidity between open and forest habitats (Ceccon et al. 2006; Zhang et al. 2010). This could explain why variation in soil humidity did not affect carabid beetles significantly. Canopy cover and litter depth significantly influenced carabid assemblage structure in our study (see also Koivula et al. 1999; Antvogel and Bonn 2001; Taboada et al. 2008; Yu et al. 2008; Ogai and Kenta 2016). These structural variables can reflect and influence microclimatic conditions (Gardner 1991; Sanderson et al. 1995). In TDF, structural and environmental variables are related to succession but also depend on season, thus strong environmental gradients are not observed during the dry season (Lebrija-Trejos et al. 2009). For instance, TDF forests consists of deciduous trees that shed their leaves during the dry season, creating an open canopy (Murphy and Lugo 1986; Holbrook et al. 2009) thus minimizing differences between habitat types in terms of climatic gradients. On top of that, due to an extremely dry period because of the El Niño phenomenon (even during the wet season), microclimatic conditions (apart from soil and air temperature, see above) likely varied little between habitat types. Alternatively, conserving water is a challenger for small organisms in these harsh environments (Chown and Klok 2003), and as such, litter depth become an important environmental variable to these beetles in providing shelter (Koivula et al. 1999; Magura et al. 2005). Hopp et al. (2010) found that litter quantity was a better predictor of beetle assemblage recovery than soil humidity. Litter improve the environment in the soil (Facelli and Pickett 1991; Magura et al. 2004), offer habitat structure for organisms (Magura et al. 2000; Kalinkat et al. 2013) and supplies prey for carnivorous species (Guillemain et al. 1997).

Seasonality did not significantly influence the carabid beetle assemblage, even though numerous studies have shown seasonality to be important in dry forest beetles (e.g., Novais et al. 2016; Pérez and Zaragoza 2016; Rangel-Acosta and Martínez-Hernández 2017; Noguera et al. 2018). However, there are exceptions; for example dung beetle richness differences between wet and dry seasons in the Caatinga forest in Brazil were small (Medina and Lopes 2014). A reason for the lack of a seasonality signal in our data may, again, be due to a deficit in precipitation during the 2015/6 El Niño southern oscillation. Many carabid species diapause as an adaptation to harsh environmental conditions (Lövei and Sunderland 1996). Some observational studies have suggested that moisture could be a trigger for diapause development (Tauber et al. 1998; Hodek 2003). Either because of low humidity or environmental signals generated by the El Niño phenomenon, carabids species could display a lengthened diapause (during a drought event), thus resulting in the absence of seasonal peaks in their numbers (see Hanski 1987; Matsuo 2006). At the species level, C. alternans and the “rest of species” group did respond to the wet season. Some Calosoma species are associated with open habitats and dry soils (Larochelle and Larivière 2003), so a slight improvement of environmental conditions in the wet season during El Niño could be sufficient for this species to express seasonal peaks (e.g., Jacobs et al. 2011).


Our study showed that early successional areas in TDF have a prominent role in the conservation of carabid beetles since it can act as a temporal habitat for a number of species that occur in forest and pasture. The loss of connectivity between dry forest patches limits the dispersal of species (Kindlmann and Burel 2008; Balzotti et al. 2020). Early successional stages could act as habitat corridors for carabid beetles, including some stenotopic species (e.g., Noordijk et al. 2008, 2009, 2011; Eggers et al. 2010), and promote the recolonization of forest patches. Land-use intensification homogenizes carabid assemblages (Meng et al. 2012), which is also the case for pasture in our study. In Armero and Cambao, pasture was dominated by C. alternans, which seems well-adapted to dry soils. We showed the importance of restoration to the recovery of this ecosystem. We demonstrated that climatic variation, like the El Niño episode, impacts the abundances and species richness of TDF carabid beetles markedly, necessitating the call for long-term studies to evaluate recovery in this landscape.


We dedicate this paper to the late Terry Erwin, whose devotion to the study of life on earth and beetles in particular, inspired a generation of scientists, young and old, in the pursuit of understanding the creatures with whom we share this planet. Students of Biology and Agricultural Engineer from the Universidad del Tolima helped with sorting the samples. This research was partially supported by funding from the Universidad del Tolima. We want to thank workers of the Universidad del Tolima North Regional University Center, and from La Batalla farm at Cambao, Dr. Nelson Canal, and Pedro Galeano for helping in one way or another in carrying out the field collections and laboratory activities. We thank the reviewer and subject editor of ZooKeys for their constructive comments that have greatly improved this manuscript. The authors declare that there were no conflicts of interest in conducting the research.


  • Aparício BA, Cascalho J, Cruz MJ, Borges PAV, Azevedo EB, Elias RB, Ascensão F (2018) Assessing the landscape functional connectivity using movement maps: A case study with endemic Azorean insects. Journal of Insect Conservation 22: 257–265.
  • Arenas A, Ulloa-Chacón P (2016) Escarabajos terrestres (Coleoptera: Carabidae) de fragmentos de Bosque seco en el Valle geográfico del río Cauca, Colombia. Boletín del Museo de Entomología de la Universidad del Valle 16: 18–25.
  • Arenas A, Armbrecht I, Chacón P (2013) Soil carabids and ants in two farming areas of Yellow passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) at Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Acta Biológica Colombiana 18: 439–448.
  • Ball GE, Shpeley D (2002) The Neotropical subgenera and species of the pantropical genus Anaulacus MacLeay (sensu novo) (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Masoreini): A taxonomic revision, with notes about way of life, evolution, and geographical history. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 128: 265–343.
  • Ball GE, Shpeley D (2009) A taxonomic review of the genus Apenes Leconte (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Lebiini) in the West Indies, with descriptions of new species and notes about classification and biogeography. Annals of Carnegie Museum 78: 79–191.
  • Ball GE, Shpeley D, Currie DC (1991) The new world genus Stenomorphus Dejean (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Harpalini): Classification, allometry, and evolutionary considerations. The Canadian Entomologist 123: 933–988.
  • Balvanera P, Castillo A, Martínez-Harms MJ (2011) Ecosystem services in Seasonally dry tropical forests. In: Dirzo R, Young HS, Mooney HA, Ceballos G (Eds) Seasonally dry tropical forests: Ecology and conservation. Island Press, Washington, 259–277.
  • Balzotti CS, Asner GP, Adkins ED, Parsons EW (2020) Spatial drivers of composition and connectivity across endangered Tropical dry forests. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 1593–1604.
  • Banda-R K, Delgado-Salinas A, Dexter KG, Linares-Palomino R, Oliveira-Filho A, Prado D, Pullan M, Quintana C, Riina R, Rodriguez MGM, Weintritt J, Acevedo-Rodriguez P, Adarve J, Alvarez E, Aranguren BA, Arteaga JC, Aymard G, Castano A, Ceballos-Mago N, Cogollo A, Cuadros H, Delgado F, Devia W, Duenas H, Fajardo L, Fernandez A, Fernandez MA, Franklin J, Freid EH, Galetti LA, Gonto R, Gonzalez-M R, Graveson R, Helmer EH, Idarraga A, Lopez R, Marcano-Vega H, Martinez OG, Maturo HM, McDonald M, McLaren K, Melo O, Mijares F, Mogni V, Molina D, Moreno N del P, Nassar JM, Neves DM, Oakley LJ, Oatham M, Olvera-Luna AR, Pezzini FF, Dominguez OJR, Rios ME, Rivera O, Rodriguez N, Rojas A, Sarkinen T, Sanchez R, Smith M, Vargas C, Villanueva B, Pennington RT (2016) Plant diversity patterns in Neotropical dry forests and their conservation implications. Science 353: 1383–1387.
  • Barber NA, Lamagdeleine-Dent KA, Willand JE, Jones HP, McCravy KW (2017) Species and functional trait re-assembly of ground beetle communities in restored grasslands. Biodiversity and Conservation 26: 3481–3498.
  • Boetzl FA, Schneider G, Krauss J (2016) Asymmetric carabid beetle spillover between calcareous grasslands and coniferous forests. Journal of Insect Conservation 20: 49–57.
  • Boetzl FA, Ries E, Schneider G, Krauss J (2018) It’s a matter of design-how pitfall trap design affects trap samples and possible predictions. PeerJ 6: 1–14.
  • Bousquet Y (2010) Illustrated Identification Guide to Adults and Larvae of Northeastern North American Ground Beetles (Carabidae). Pensoft Publishers, Otawa, 562 pp.
  • Chao A, Gotelli NJ, Hsieh TC, Sander EL, Ma KH, Colwell RK, Ellison AM (2014) Rarefaction and extrapolation with Hill numbers: A framework for sampling and estimation in species diversity studies. Ecological Monographs 84: 45–67.
  • Chown SL, Klok CJ (2003) Water-balance characteristics respond to changes in body size in subantarctic Weevils. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches 76: 634–643.
  • Corona-López AM, Reza-Pérez EV, Toledo-Hernández VH, Flores-Palacios A, Macrae TC, Westcott RL, Hespenheide HA, Bellamy CL (2017) Diversity of Buprestidae (Coleoptera) from El Limón de Cuauchichinola, Tepalcingo, Morelos, Mexico. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 93: 71–83.
  • Dejean PFMA (1829) Species général des coléoptères de la collection de M. le Comte Dejean. Crevot, Paris, IV: [vii +] 520 pp.
  • Dejean PFMA (1831) Species général des coléoptères de la collection de M. le Comte Dejean. Crevot, Paris, V: [vii +] 883 pp.
  • Eggers B, Matern A, Drees C, Eggers J, Härdtle W, Assmann T (2010) Value of semi-open corridors for simultaneously connecting open and wooded habitats: A case study with ground beetles: Contributed paper. Conservation Biology 24: 256–266.
  • Erwin TL (1979) Thoughts on the evolutionary history of ground beetles: Hypotheses generated from comparative faunal analyses of lowland forest sites in temperate and tropical regions. In: Erwin TL, Ball GE, Whitehead DR, Halpern AL (Eds) Carabid Beetles Their Evolution, Natural History, and Classification. Springer, Dordrecht, 539–592.
  • Erwin TL (1991) Natural history of the carabid beetles at the BIOLAT Biological Station, Rio Manu, Pakitza, Perú. Revista peruana de entomología 33: 1–85.
  • Espinosa CI, Cabrera O, Luzuriaga AL, Escudero A (2011) What factors affect diversity and species composition of endangered Tumbesian dry forests in southern Ecuador? Biotropica 43: 15–22.
  • Esquivel HE, Tinoco F, Torres AJ (2016) La sucesión vegetal en los lodos fluviovolcánicos de Armero-Tolima-Colombia 30 años después de la erupción del volcán arenas del Nevado del Ruiz. Caldasia 38: 101–116.
  • Etter A, McAlpine C, Possingham H (2008) Historical patterns and drivers of landscape change in Colombia since 1500: A regionalized spatial approach. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98: 2–23.
  • Facelli JM, Pickett STA (1991) Plant litter: Light interception and effects on an Old-field plant community. Wiley on behalf of the Ecological Society of America 72: 1024–1031.
  • Fernández-Méndez F, Melo O, Álvarez E, Pérez U, Lozano A (2014) Status of knowledge, conservation, and management of Tropical dry forest in the Magdalena river valley, Colombia. In: Sánchez-Azofeifa A, Powers JS, Fernandes GW, Quesada M (Eds) Tropical dry forests in the Americas ecology, conservation, and management. CRC Press, 35–54.
  • Fidan EC, Sirin U (2016) The changes related with altitudinal gradient and seasonal variation in the species composition of Carabidae (Coleoptera) in Türkmen Mountain (Eskisehir, Turkey). Ekoloji 25: 17–24.
  • Fox J, Weisberg S, Adler D, Bates D, Baud-Bovy G, Ellison S, Firth D, Friendly M, Gorjanc G, Graves S, Heiberger R, Laboissiere R, Monette G, Murdoch D, Nilsson H, Ogle D, Ripley B, Venables W, Winsemius D, Zeileis A (2016) Package ‘car’.
  • García Cárdenas R, Armbrecht I, Ulloa-Chacón P (2001) Staphylinidae (Coleoptera): Composición y mirmecofilia en Bosques secos relictuales de Colombia. Folia entomologica mexicana 40: 1–10.
  • Gardner SM (1991) Ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) communities on upland heath and their association with heathland flora. Journal of Biogeography 18: 281–289.
  • Gidaspow T (1963) The genus Calosoma in Central America, the Antilles and South America (Coleoptera, Carabidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 124: 275–313.
  • Guillemain M, Loreau M, Daufresne T (1997) Relationships beetween the regional distribution of carabid beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) and the abundance of their potential prey. Acta Oecologica 18: 465–483.
  • Hanski I (1987) Four kinds of extra-long diapause in insects: A review of theory and observations. Annales Zoologici Fennici 25: 37–53.
  • Harrison XA (2014) Using observation-level random effects to model overdispersion in count data in ecology and evolution. PeerJ: e616.
  • Harvey CA, Komar O, Chazdon R, Ferguson BG, Finegan B, Griffith DM, Martínez-Ramos M, Morales H, Nigh R, Soto-Pinto L, Van Breugel M, Wishnie M (2008) Integrating agricultural landscapes with biodiversity conservation in the Mesoamerican hotspot. Conservation Biology 22: 8–15.
  • Hernández MIM, Barreto PSCS, Costa VH, Creão-Duarte AJ, Favila ME (2014) Response of a dung beetle assemblage along a reforestation gradient in Restinga forest. Journal of Insect Conservation 18: 539–546.
  • Hilt N, Brehm G, Fiedler K (2006) Diversity and ensemble composition of geometrid moths along a successional gradient in the Ecuadorian Andes. Journal of Tropical Ecology 22: 155–166.
  • Holbrook NM, Whitbeck JL, Mooney HA (2009) Drought responses of Neotropical dry forest trees. In: Bullock SH, Mooney HA, Medina E (Eds) Seasonally dry tropical forests. Cambridge University Press, New York, 243–270.
  • Hopp PW, Ottermanns R, Caron E, Meyer S, Roß-Nickoll M (2010) Recovery of litter inhabiting beetle assemblages during forest regeneration in the Atlantic forest of Southern Brazil. Insect Conservation and Diversity 3: 103–113.
  • Hsieh TC, Ma KH, Chao A (2016) iNEXT: An R package for rarefaction and extrapolation of species diversity (Hill numbers). Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7: 1451–1456.
  • Jacobs JM, Colin Bergeron JA, Work TT, Spence JR (2011) Low intensity surface fire instigates movement by adults of Calosoma frigidum (Coleoptera, Carabidae). ZooKeys 147: 641–649.
  • Janzen DH (1988) Tropical dry forest: The most endangered major tropical ecosystem. In: Wilson EO, Peter FM (Eds) Biodiversity. National Academic Press, Washington, 130–137.
  • Jost L, Chao A, Chazdon RL (2011) Compositional similarity and beta diversity. In: Magurran A, McGill B (Eds) Biological diversity: Frontiers in measurement and assessment. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 66–84.
  • Kaizuka J, Iwasa M (2015) Carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in coniferous plantations in Hokkaido, Japan: Effects of tree species and environmental factors. Entomological Science 18: 245–253.
  • Kassambara A (2018) Machine learning essentials: Practical guide in R. sthda, 303 pp.
  • Knapp M, Seidl M, Knappová J, Macek M, Saska P (2019) Temporal changes in the spatial distribution of carabid beetles around arable field-woodlot boundaries. Scientific Reports 9: 1–11.
  • Koivula MJ (2011) Useful model organisms, indicators, or both? Ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) reflecting environmental conditions. ZooKeys 100: 287–317.
  • Kostel-Hughes F, Young TP, Carreiro MM (1998) Forest leaf litter quantity and seedling occurrence along an urban-rural gradient. Urban Ecosystems 2: 263–278.
  • Kotze DJ, Brandmayr P, Casale A, Dauffy-Richard E, Dekoninck W, Koivula MJ, Lövei GL, Mossakowski D, Noordijk J, Paarmann W, Pizzolotto R, Saska P, Schwerk A, Serrano J, Szyszko J, Taboada A, Turin H, Venn S, Vermeulen R, Zetto T (2011) Forty years of carabid beetle research in Europe – from taxonomy, biology, ecology and population studies to bioindication, habitat assessment and conservation. ZooKeys 148: 55–148.
  • Larochelle A, Larivière M-C (2003) A natural history of the ground-beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of America north of Mexico. Pensoft Publishers, Bulgaria, 583 pp.
  • Lebrija-Trejos E, Pérez-García EA, Meave JA, Poorter L, Bongers F (2009) Tropical dry forest recovery processes and causes of change successional and seasonal changes in the abiotic environment of a Tropical dry forest. Wageningen University, Wageningen.
  • Lebrija-Trejos E, Pérez-García EA, Meave JA, Poorter L, Bongers F (2011) Environmental changes during secondary succession in a Tropical dry forest in Mexico. Journal of Tropical Ecology 27: 477–489.
  • Lemmon P (1956) A spherical densitometer for estimating forest overstory density. Forestry science 2: 314–320.
  • Liu Y, Axmacher JC, Li L, Wang C, Yu Z (2007) Ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) inventories: A comparison of light and pitfall trapping. Bulletin of entomological research 97: 577–583.
  • Maass M, Burgos A (2011) Water dynamics at the ecosystem level in Seasonally dry tropical forests. In: Dirzo R, Young HS, Mooney HA, Ceballos G (Eds) Seasonally dry tropical forests: Ecology and conservation. Island Press, Washington, 141–156.
  • Magura T, Tóthmérész B, Bordána Z (2000) Effects of nature management practice on carabid assemblages (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in a non-native plantation. Biological Conservation 93: 95–102.
  • Magura T, Tóthmérész B, Molnár T (2004) Changes in carabid beetle assemblages along an urbanization gradient in the city of Debrecen, Hungary. Landscape Ecology 19: 747–759.
  • Magura T, Bogyó D, Mizser S, Nagy DD, Tóthmérész B (2015) Recovery of ground-dwelling assemblages during reforestation with native oak depends on the mobility and feeding habits of the species. Forest Ecology and Management 339: 117–126.
  • Magurran AE, Henderson PA (2011) Commommess and rarity. In: Magurran AE, McGill BJ (Eds) Biological Diversity Frontiers in Measurement and Assess. Oxford University Press, New York, 97–104.
  • Marques T, Espiríto-Santo MM, Neves FS, Schoereder JH (2017) Ant assemblage structure in a secondary Tropical dry forest: The role of ecological succession and seasonality. Sociobiology 64: 261–275.
  • Martínez C (2005) Introducción a los Escarabajos Carabidae. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 546 pp.
  • Medina A, Lopes P (2014) Seasonality in the dung beetle community in a Brazilian tropical dry forest: Do small changes make a difference? Journal of Insect Science 14: 1–11.
  • Meng LZ, Martin K, Weigel A, Liu JX (2012) Impact of rubber plantation on carabid beetle communities and species distribution in a changing tropical landscape (southern Yunnan, China). Journal of Insect Conservation 16: 423–432.
  • Miles L, Newton AC, De Fries RS, Ravilious C, May I, Blyth S, Kapos V, Gordon JE (2006) A global overview of the conservation status of Tropical dry forests. Journal of Biogeography 33: 491–505.
  • Molnár T, Magura T, Tóthmérész B, Elek Z (2001) Ground beetles (Carabidae) and edge effect in oak-hornbeam forest and grassland transects. European Journal of Soil Biology 37: 297–300.
  • Montealegre JE (2014) Actualización del Componente Meteorológico del Modelo Institucional del IDEAM Sobre el Efecto Climático de los Fenómenos El Niño y La Niña en Colombia, Como Insumo para el Atlas Climatológico. Instituto de hidrología, meteorología y estudios ambientales, IDEAM, Bogotá.
  • Nagy DD, Magura T, Mizser S, Debnár Z, Tóthmérész B (2016) Recovery of surface-dwelling assemblages (Coleoptera: Carabidae, Staphylinidae) during clear-cut originated reforestation with native tree species. Periodicum Biologorum 118: 195–203.
  • Nassar JM, Rodríguez JP, Sánchez-Azofeifa A, Garvin T, Quesada M (2008) Human, Ecological and Biophysical Dimensions of Tropical Dry Forest. Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Caracas, 129 pp.
  • Neves de SF, Silva JO, Marques T, Mota-Souza JG, Madeira B, do Espírito-Santo MM, Fernandes GW (2014) Spatiotemporal dynamics of insects in a Brazilian tropical dry forest. In: Sánchez-Azofeifa A, Powers JS, Fernandes GW, Quesada M (Eds) Tropical Dry Forest in the Americas: Ecology, Conservation, and Management. CRC Press, 221–235.
  • Neves FS, Fonseca Oliveira VH, do Espírito-Santo MM, Vaz-de-Mello FZ, Louzada J, Sanchez-Azofeifa A, Fernandes GW (2010a) Successional and seasonal changes in a community of dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae) in a Brazilian tropical dry forest. Natureza & Conservação 8: 160–164.
  • Niemelä J, Spence JR, Spence DH (1992) Habitat associations and seasonal activity of ground-beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) in Central Alberta. The Canadian Entomologist 124: 521–540.
  • Noguera-Martínez FA, Chemsak JA, Zaragoza-Caballero S, Rodríguez-Palafox A, Ramírez-García E, González-Soriano E, Ayala R (2007) A faunal study of Cerambycidae (Coleoptera) from one region with Tropical dry forest in México: San Buenaventura, Jalisco. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 83: 296–314.
  • Noguera FA, Ortega-Huerta MA, Zaragoza-Caballero S, González-Soriano E, Ramírez-García E (2018) Species richness and abundance of Cerambycidae (Coleoptera) in Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico; relationships with phenological changes in the Tropical dry forest. Neotropical Entomology 47: 457–469.
  • Noordijk J, Schaffers AP, Sýkora KV (2008) Diversity of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Araneae) in roadside verges with grey hair-grass vegetation. European Journal of Entomology 105: 257–265.
  • Noordijk J, Schaffers AP, Heijerman T, Sýkora KV (2011) Using movement and habitat corridors to improve the connectivity for heathland carabid beetles. Journal for Nature Conservation 19: 276–284.
  • Novais SMA, Evangelista LA, Reis-Júnior R, Neves FS (2016) How does dung beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) diversity vary along a rainy season in a Tropical dry forest? Journal of Insect Science 16: 1–6.
  • Nyafwono M, Valtonen A, Nyeko P, Roininen H (2014) Butterfly community composition across a successional gradient in a human-disturbed Afro-tropical rain forest. Biotropica 46: 210–218.
  • Ogai T, Kenta T (2016) The effects of vegetation types and microhabitats on carabid beetle community composition in cool temperate Japan. Ecological Research 31: 177–188.
  • Oksanen J (2015) Multivariate analysis of ecological communities in R: vegan tutorial.: 1–30.
  • Paarmann W (1979) Ideas about the evolution of the various annual reproduction rhythms in carabid beetles of the different climatic zones. Miscellaneous Papers 18: 119–132.
  • Paarmann W, Gutzmann B, Stumpe P, Bolte H, Küppers S, Holzkamp K, Clemens N, Joachim A, Stork NE, Da Fonseca CR (2002) The structure of ground beetle assemblages (Coleoptera: Carabidae) at fruit falls of Melastomataceae trees in a Brazilian terra firme rain forest. Biotropica 34: 368–375.
  • Paarmann W, Erbeling L, Spinnler K (1986) Ant and ant brood preying larvae: An adaptation of carabid beetles to arid environments. In: Den Boer P, Luff M, Mossakowski D, Weber F (Eds) Carabid Beetles their Adaptations and Dynamics. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart-New York, 79–90.
  • Pérez Hernández XC, Zaragoza Caballero S (2016) Temporal variation in the diversity of Cantharidae (Coleoptera), in seven assemblages in Tropical dry forest in Mexico. Tropical Conservation Science 9: 439–464.
  • Pickett ST, Rogers KH (1997) Patch dynamics: The transformation of landscape structure and function. In: Bissonette J (Ed.) Wildlife and Landscape Ecology. Springer, New York, 101–127.
  • Pizano C, González-M R, López R, Jurado RD, Cuadros H, Castaño-Naranjo A, Rojas A, Pérez K, Vergara-Varela H, Idárraga Á, Isaacs P, García H (2016) El Bosque seco tropical en Colombia: Distribución y estado de conservación. In: Gómez MF, Moreno LA, Andrade GI, Rueda C (Eds) Biodiversidad 2015. Estado y tendencias de la biodiversidad continental de Colombia. Instituto Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, Ficha 202.
  • Potter K, Davidowitz G, Arthur Woods H (2009) Insect eggs protected from high temperatures by limited homeothermy of plant leaves. Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 3448–3454.
  • Poveda G, Graham NE, Epstein PR, Rojas W, Quiñones ML, Vélez ID, Martens WJM (2000) Climate and ENSO variability associated with vector-borne diseases in Colombia. In: Diaz HF, Markgraf V (Eds) El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: Multiscale Variability and Global and Regional Impacts. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 183–204.
  • Putzeys J (1846) Monographie des Clivina et genres voisins, précedée d’un tableau synoptique des genres de la tribu des Scaritides. Mémoires de la Socíeté R. des Sciencies de Liege 2: 521–663.
  • Putzeys J (1866) Révision générale des Clivinides. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 10: 1–242.
  • Quesada M, Sánchez-Azofeifa GA, Alvarez-Añorve M, Stoner KE, Avila-Cabadilla L, Calvo-Alvarado J, Castillo A, Espírito-Santo MM, Fagundes M, Fernandes GW, Gamon J, Lopezaraiza-Mikel M, Lawrence D, Morellato LP, Powers JS, Neves FS, Rosas-Guerrero V, Sayago R, Sanchez-Montoya G (2009) Succession and management of Tropical dry forests in the Americas: Review and new perspectives. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 1014–1024.
  • R Core Team (2020) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for Statistical Computing.
  • Rangel-Acosta JL, Martínez-Hernández NJ (2017) Comparación de los ensamblajes de escarabajos copronecrófagos (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) entre fragmentos de Bosque seco tropical y la matriz adyacente en el departamento del Atlántico-Colombia. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 88: 389–401.
  • Rosero YP (2010) Influência da transformação da cobertura vegetal na comunidade de Carabidae (Coleoptera) em dossel de florestas de Terra firme de Amazônia equatoriana. Universidad Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Brasil.
  • Samways MJ (1994) Insect Conservation Biology. Chapman & Hall, London, 358 pp.
  • Sánchez-Azofeifa GA, Quesada M, Rodríguez JP, Nassar JM, Stoner KE, Castillo A, Garvin T, Zent EL, Calvo-Alvarado JC, Kalacska MER, Fajardo L, Gamon JA, Cuevas-Reyes P (2005) Research priorities for Neotropical dry forests. Biotropica 37: 477–485.
  • Sanderson RA, Rushton SP, Cherrill AJ, Byrne JP (1995) Soil, vegetation and space: An analysis of their effects on the invertebrate communities of a moorland in north-east England. The Journal of Applied Ecology 32: 506–518.
  • Schneider G, Krauss J, Boetzl FA, Fritze MA, Steffan-Dewenter I (2016) Spillover from adjacent crop and forest habitats shapes carabid beetle assemblages in fragmented semi-natural grasslands. Oecologia 182: 1141–1150.
  • Schowalter TD (2006) Insect ecology – An ecosystem approach. Academic Press, San Diego, 569 pp.
  • Shpeley D, Hunting W, Ball GE (2017) A taxonomic review of the Selenophori group (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Harpalini) in the West Indies, with descriptions of new species and notes about classification and biogeography. ZooKeys 690: 1–195.
  • Taboada A, Kotze DJ, Tárrega R, Salgado JM (2008) Carabids of differently aged reforested pinewoods and a natural pine forest in a historically modified landscape. Basic and Applied Ecology 9: 161–171.
  • Tauber MJ, Tauber CA, Nyrop JP, Villani MG (1998) Moisture, a vital but neglected factor in the seasonal ecology of insects: Hypotheses and tests of mechanisms. Environmental Entomology 27: 523–530.
  • UNGRD [Unidad Nacional para la gestión del Riesgo de desastre] (2016) Fenómeno El Niño: Análisis comparativo 1997–1998/2014–2016. Unidad nacional para la gestión del riesgo de desastres, Bogotá, 143 pp.
  • Uribe M, Vallejo LF (2013) Diversidad de escarabajos Carabidae y Scarabaeidae de un Bosque tropical en el Magdalena medio colombiano. Boletín Científico del Museo de la Universidad de Caldas 17: 174–196.
  • Vargas W, Ramírez W (2014) Lineamientos generales para la restauración del Bosque seco tropical en Colombia. In: Pizano C, García H (Eds) El Bosque Seco Tropical en Colombia. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 253–291.
  • Vennila S, Rajagopal D (1999) Optimum sampling effort for study of tropical ground beetles (Carabidae: Coleoptera) using pitfall traps. Current Science 77: 281–283.
  • Ver Hoef JM, Boveng PL (2007) Quasi-Poisson vs. Negative Binomial regression: How should we model overdispersed count data? Ecology 88: 2766–2772.
  • Vieira L, Lopes FS, Fernandes WD, Raizer J (2008) Comunidade de Carabidae (Coleoptera) em manchas florestais no Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brasil. Iheringia. Série Zoologia 98: 317–324.
  • Vitolo AL (2004) Guía Para la Identificación de los Escarabajos Tigre. Instituto de la Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 198 pp.
  • Whitfield S, Beauchamp E, Boyd DS, Burslem D, Byg A, Colledge F, Cutler MEJ, Didena M, Dougill A, Foody G, Godbold JA, Hazenbosch M, Hirons M, Ifejika Speranza C, Jew E, Lacambra C, Mkwambisi D, Moges A, Morel A, Morris R, Novo P, Rueda M, Smith H, Solan M, Spencer T, Thornton A, Touza J, White PCL (2019) Exploring temporality in socio-ecological resilience through experiences of the 2015–16 El Niño across the Tropics. Global Environmental Change 55: 1–14.
  • Will KW (2005) The Neotropical genera Oxycrepis Reiche and Stolonis Motschulsky: A taxonomic review, key to the described species and description of new Stolonis species from Ecuador (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Loxandrini). Zootaxa 17: 1–17.
  • Yu XD, Luo TH, Zhou HZ (2008) Distribution of carabid beetles among 40-year-old regenerating plantations and 100-year-old naturally regenerated forests in Southwestern China. Forest Ecology and Management 255: 2617–2625.
  • Zhang Y, Liu J, Xu X, Tian Y, Li Y, Gao Q (2010) The response of soil moisture content to rainfall events in semi-arid area of Inner Mongolia. Procedia Environmental Sciences 2: 1970–1978.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material 1 

Table S1

Gloria Maria Ariza, Jorge Jácome, Héctor Eduardo Esquivel, D. Johan Kotze

Data type: occurrences

Explanation note: List of plant species of each habitat type at Armero and Cambao. Abbreviations: F = forest, ES = early succession, P = pasture.

This dataset is made available under the Open Database License ( The Open Database License (ODbL) is a license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use this Dataset while maintaining this same freedom for others, provided that the original source and author(s) are credited.
Download file (14.08 kb)
Supplementary material 2 

Table S2

Gloria Maria Ariza, Jorge Jácome, Héctor Eduardo Esquivel, D. Johan Kotze

Data type: Linked Data

Explanation note: Information on the carabid species vouchers collected in Armero and Cambao and deposited in the Entomological Museum of the Universidad del Tolima, Colombia (MENT-UT).

This dataset is made available under the Open Database License ( The Open Database License (ODbL) is a license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use this Dataset while maintaining this same freedom for others, provided that the original source and author(s) are credited.
Download file (18.02 kb)
Supplementary material 3 

Table S3

Gloria Maria Ariza, Jorge Jácome, Héctor Eduardo Esquivel, D. Johan Kotze

Data type: environmental variables

Explanation note: Means (SD) of the environmental variables measured in Armero, Colombia during 13 months. The dry season period includes months 1–4, 7–9 and 13; wet season 5–6 and 10–12. For Cambao, data were collected one month during the dry and one month during the wet season.

This dataset is made available under the Open Database License ( The Open Database License (ODbL) is a license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use this Dataset while maintaining this same freedom for others, provided that the original source and author(s) are credited.
Download file (12.90 kb)
login to comment