A combination of elements (e.g., crops and pasture lands, strips of roadside vegetation, woodlots, temporary wetlands) increases the heterogeneity of rural landscapes. Agricultural landscapes range from homogeneous, dominated by a single element (i.e., pure cropland or pure pastoral farming) to heterogeneous, dominated by two or more elements (i.e., mixed farming). In this study we characterized landbird assemblages in various agricultural landscapes (cropland, pastoral, and mixed landscapes) in the Pampas of central Argentina, surveying along transects to quantify species richness, composition, and abundance. Mixed landscapes were more heterogeneous than pastoral areas and cropland. Species richness, particularly of generalists, was greater in mixed landscapes. Richness of grassland specialists (species of increased conservation concern in the Pampas) was lower in croplands than in pastoral and mixed landscapes. An indicator-species analysis supported the association of some grassland specialists (Rhea americana, Asthenes hudsoni, Embernagra platensis, Pseudoleistes virescens) with pastoral landscapes. Our results suggest that maintaining landscape heterogeneity throughout the Pampas (i.e., mixed landscapes) is important for preserving species richness of birds. But several threatened grassland specialists inhabiting the Pampas, such as Rhea americana and Asthenes hudsoni, are found exclusively in pastoral landscapes, so the long-term survival of these species will depend on the conservation of this landscape type.
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Vol. 115 • No. 1