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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