• Nurse plant;
  • Patchy vegetation;
  • Prosopis;
  • Seed dispersal;
  • Vegetation change;
  • Wet Chaco;
  • Woody plant
  • Zuloaga et al. (1994, 1996a, b). Some native names were included using quotation marks

Abstract. In the Wet Chaco region of Argentina, increasing shrub encroachment in savannas over the last few decades has led to important changes in the structure and functioning of the landscape. Some sectors of this territory are characterized by the appearance of circular clusters of woody patches, dispersed throughout the grassland matrix. The increasing size of these patches leads to a gradual change from grassland to dense shrubland. We studied these circular woody patches in the eastern region of the Argentine province of Formosa and characterized the variation in terms of floristic composition, diversity and predominant seed dispersal mode in different size patches. We observed an increase in species richness, diversity and compositional heterogeneity among patches with increasing patch size. Seed dispersal by animals, especially birds, is an important factor in the expansion of these woody vegetation patches within the grassland matrix.