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John Oates


Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Hunter College and the Graduate School, City University of New York

Fields of Study

Primate ecology and conservation biology, with a special focus on African rainforests; zoogeography and evolution of African mammals; West Africa, India.

Current Research Interests

I have had a long-standing interest in the natural history of African forest primates, especially the factors that have led to current patterns of species distribution and abundance. I have studied several processes, occurring on different timescales, that influence these patterns: historical evolutionary events related to the expansion and contraction of rainforest; more proximal ecological factors such as the distribution, abundance and quality of food supplies; and the recent impact of human populations on wildlife and its habitats. I recently extended this research to an examination of the distribution and taxonomy of tree hyraxes, with which primates share their African rainforest habitat. In addition to studying conservation issues, I am also involved in producing action plans to mitigate threats to endangered species, and with advising on the design and management of protected areas.

Selected Publications

Oates, J.F., Woodman, N., Gaubert, P., Sargis, E.J., Wiafe, E.D., Lecompte, E., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Dowsett, R.J., Gonedelé Bi, S., Ikemeh, R.A., Djagoun, C.A.M.S., Tomsett, L. & Bearder, S.K. (2021) A new species of tree hyrax (Procaviidae: Dendrohyrax J.E. Gray, 1868) from West Africa, and the significance of the Niger-Volta interfluvium in mammalian biogeography. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 192.

Oates, J.F. & Ting, N. (2015) Conservation consequences of unstable taxonomies: The case of the red colobus monkeys. Pp. 321-343 in Taxonomic Tapestries: The Threads of Evolutionary, Behavioural and Conservation Research, A.M. Behie & M.F. Oxenham (eds). Canberra: Australian National University Press.
Oates, J.F. (2011) Primates of West Africa: A Field Guide and Natural History. Arlington, VA: Conservation International.

Linder, J.M. & Oates, J.F. (2011) Differential impact of bushmeat hunting on monkey species and implications for primate conservation in Korup National Park, Cameroon. Biological Conservation 144: 738-745. 

Oates, J.F., Groves, C.P. & Jenkins, P.D. (2009) The type locality of Pan troglodytes vellerosus (Gray, 1862) and implications for the nomenclature of West African chimpanzees. Primates 50: 78-80.

Oates, J.F., Abedi-Lartey, W.S., McGraw, W.S., Struhsaker, T.T. & Whitesides, G.H. (2000) Extinction of a West African red colobus monkey. Conservation Biology 14: 1526-1532.
White, L.J.T. & Oates. J.F. (1999) New data on the history of the plateau forest of Okomu, southern Nigeria: an insight into how human disturbance has shaped the African rain forest. Global Ecology and Biogeography 8: 355-361. 

Oates, J.F. (1999) Myth and Reality in the Rain Forest: How Conservation Strategies are Failing in West Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Oates, J.F. (1996) African Primates: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Revised Edition. Gland: IUCN.
Davies, A.G. & Oates, J.F. (eds) (1994) Colobine Monkeys: Their Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.