Agriculture and urban development have been the main drivers of loss and
fragmentation of grasslands worldwide. The Argentine Pampas has been highly transformed by human activities. However
how birds respond to the size of grassland patches and landscape matrices is unknown.
We studied the effects of these on the abundance and richness of both
specialist and opportunist grassland birds. In addition, we evaluated the patch
size effect in contrast with unfragmented grasslands. We surveyed birds in
small and large patches of Cortaderia
selloana grasslands embedded within agricultural, planted forest, dune and
urban landscape matrices and, specifically in spring, in unfragmented
grasslands. The abundance and richness of specialist grassland birds in small
patches were lower than in large patches, but richness depended on the type of
matrix and was lowest in patches surrounded by a forest matrix. Extensive
grasslands are a key habitat for grassland specialists during the breeding
season. In contrast, the abundance and richness of opportunist grassland birds
were higher in patches than in unfragmented grasslands, and showed a negative
effect of dune matrix in winter. Our results enable prediction of how bird
species with different habitat requirements may vary in abundance and richness
depending on the size of grassland patches and the type of land use following grassland
replacement. —Pretelli, M.G., Isacch, J.P. & Cardoni, D.A. (2018). Species-area relationships of
specialist versus opportunistic Pampas grassland birds depend on the
surrounding landscape matrix. Ardeola, 65: 3-23..
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