The magnitude of facilitation by shelter-building engineers on community structure is expected to be greater when they increase limited resources in the environment. We evaluated the influence of local environmental context on the colonisation of leaf shelters by arthropods in a Mexican evergreen tropical rainforest. We compared the species richness and abundance of arthropods (total and for different guilds) colonising artificially rolled leaves in habitats differing in understory heterogeneity (forest edge > old-growth forests > living fences). Arthropod abundance of the most representative arthropod taxa (i.e., Araneae, Blattodea, Collembola and Psocoptera) colonising the rolled leaves was greater at forest edge, a trend also observed for average arthropod abundance, and for detritivore and predator guilds. In addition, fewer arthropod species and individuals colonised the rolled leaves in the living fence habitat, a trend also observed for most arthropod guilds. As forest edge is expected to have a greater arthropod diversity and stronger density-dependent interactions, a greater limitation of refuges from competitors or predators may have determined the higher colonisation of the rolled leaves in this habitat. Our results demonstrate that local environment context is an important factor that affects the colonisation of arthropods in leaf shelters.