Forests provide critical habitat for tropical butterflies world-wide. However, habitat variation and disturbance within forests can affect butterfly communities and diversity in complex ways. Building on previous research and a known land-use history, we studied butterfly diversity in the mountains of Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam monthly from 2005 to 2008 and 2012 to examine how habitat variation affects the butterfly communities. We sampled butterflies in three different types of forest habitat: an open road in a disturbed forest (which was formerly a path in a closed-canopy forest), bamboo-dominated forest, and secondary forest. A total of 147 species and 4,685 individual butterflies were recorded. The species composition and richness of the open road within forest and the secondary forest were similar to one another but more forest-associated species were found in the secondary forest. The bamboo forest had the fewest species and had a clearly distinct butterfly community consisting largely of satyrine species. This research suggests that road construction within the forests of Tam Dao likely affected the butterfly community such that road-impacted areas now have communities that resemble communities found in secondary forest. Also, the unique but species-poor bamboo forest butterfly community highlights the need for distinction between forest habitat types when studying the ecological and conservation requirements for butterflies and other tropical insects.
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