Oliver Coomes

Development Geography

Dr. Oliver CoomesDr. Oliver T. Coomes

Department of Geography
McGill University,
805 Sherbrooke Street West,
Montreal, QC H3A 0B9
Email: oliver.coomes [at] mcgill.ca

Who I Am

I work on issues related to conservation, rural livelihood, and poverty among resource-reliant rain forest peoples of the Neotropics, particularly in the Peruvian Amazon.

I was born and raised in British Columbia. I did my BSc in Geography at the University of Victoria, mostly in physical geography (though my Honours thesis was actually on urban recreation!). I then took up a fellowship at the University of Toronto where I completed an MA in Geography which focussed on environmental management and policy - my thesis examined regulatory, judicial and administrative strategies to reduce the acid rain problem between Canada and the US. At that point I decided to 'shift gears' and went to work in the private sector for a large Canadian engineering firm as an environmental consultant. For six years I worked on a variety of environmental problems in Canada and overseas for private firms, government ministries and multilateral agencies. One of the projects took me to West Africa where I conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment for the World Bank on a dam proposed for the Niger River; the work required lots of interviewing with peasant farmers along the river and I was fascinated.

I decided to return to school so that I could learn more about the lives and livelihoods of the resource- reliant peoples in the developing world. I quit my job and went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I did my PhD in Geography (major area: cultural ecology; minors: development economics and water resources engineering). It was at Madison that I decided to focus on the Amazon basin and peasant economic livelihood among riverine peasants (ribereños) of northeastern Peru. When I finished my dissertation I took up a professorship at McGill where I have been since 1992.

My Affiliations

Member, Scientific Committee, EchoGéo (2012-present)

Member, Publications Committee, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (2015-present)

Member, Board of Directors, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (2015-2018)

Member, Field Study Award Committee, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (2016)

Associate Editor, Economic Botany (2009 – 2016)

Editor-in-Chief, World Development (2003 – 2012)

Invited Visiting Professor, Faculty of Economics, Université Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne (October,2011; Ministère des Affaires Étrangères)

Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award (2010), Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers

Member, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (2010 - present)

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Land Use Science (2005 - 2014)

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Latin American Geography (2003 - 2009)

Member, Editorial Board, Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2004 - 2007)

Member, Scientific Steering Committee, Commission on Land Use and Land Cover Change, International Geographical Union (IGU) (2005 - present)

Member, Global Land Project Transition Team, IGBP/IHDP. (2003 - 2004)

Member, Scientific Steering Committee, Land Use and Land Cover Change Core Project, International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Change

Runner-up, Global Development Network, Award for Outstanding Research on Development (with Drs. Brad Barham and Yoshito Takasaki) (2000)

Chair, Cultural Ecology Specialty Group, Association of American Geographers (1998-2000)

Chair, Honours Committee, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (1998)

Nystrom Award Competition Committee, Association of American Geographers (1998-99)

Board of Directors, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (1996-1999)

Board of Directors, Amazonian Peoples Resources Initiative (APRI) (1998-2003)

Board of Directors, Amazon Conservation Fund, Inc. (1989-1998)

What I teach

Geog 216 Geography of the World Economy

The course introduces the geography of the world economic system. It describes the spatial distribution of economic activities and examines the factors which influence their changing location. Case studies from both "developed" and "developing" countries will test the different geographical theories presented in lectures. Co-taught.

Geog 310 Development and Livelihoods

A discussion of the geographical dimensions of rural/urban livelihoods in the face of socioeconomic and environmental change in developing regions. Emphasis on household natural resource use, survival strategies and vulnerability, decision-making, formal and informal institutions, migration, and development experience in contrasting global environments.

Geog 510 Humid Tropical Environments

A graduate level seminar on humid tropical ecosystems, the people of the rain forest, and the development experience of tropical regions; regional focus on Amazonia. Draws students primarily from Geography, Biology and Anthropology.

Geog 498 Humans in Tropical Envrionments (Panama)

An upper-level course, as part of the Panama Field Study Semester, on rural livelihood, migration and land use change in Panama. Offered every other year. Co-taught.

Geog 631 Methods of Geographical Research

The purpose of this course is to introduce graduate students in Geography to geographical research leading to the preparation of the thesis proposal and its presentation to the class in the winter term.

My Research Interests

I work at the intersection of ‘environment’ and ‘economy’ among traditional rain forest peoples of the Amazon river basin, particularly in Peru, and elsewhere in the Neotropics.  I seek to understand the microfoundations of natural resource use by traditional peoples – from swidden-fallow agroforestry and floodplain agriculture to forest product extraction and fishing – and their implications for economic development and for environmental conservation. 

What are the prospects and problems of indigenous agricultural practices for improving the welfare of the rural poor and for conserving the rain forest?

What role does sustainable forest product extraction play, both past and present, in the household and regional economy? 

How do peasants adapt their livelihood practices under conditions of environmental and economic change? 

These questions guide much of my research.

My research has followed two broad lines – one contemporary and one historical – focusing on issues related to cultural ecology, livelihoods and development and land use and land cover change in Amazonia.  My work applies concepts and methods from micro-development and agricultural economics to problems of human-environment relations among traditional, resource-reliant peoples.  Much of this work has been in collaboration with students and researchers at McGill and other universities – they are the ‘we’ below and their names can be found as co-authors of the papers produced from our research (See “Research Papers”).

Amazonian Peasant Livelihoods

My dissertation work challenged common depictions in the literature of traditional Amazonian peasants as being undifferentiated ‘economic generalists’ and the apparent economic limitations of blackwater (oligotrophic) rivers.  I encountered surprisingly high levels of market-product specialization and wide variations in cash income levels among peasant households which prompted me to focus on two key economic activities in the peasant household – market-oriented agroforestry and natural resource extraction – and on peasant responses to economic and environmental change. 

Indigenous Agroforestry

Often portrayed as the ‘other path’ for rural development in Amazonia, market-oriented agroforestry systems had been little studied analytically. In a study of agrodiversity in a traditional community near Iquitos, Peru, we identified a set of key factors that explain why certain traditional peasant households use more (or less) sustainable swidden-fallow agroforestry practices and, in doing so, challenge the prevalent view of indigenous agriculture as being intrinsically ‘stable, equitable and sustainable’.  Elsewhere, I discovered a new type of traditional lowland agroforestry system (i.e., avocado-yarinal system) on relic riverine features in the Amazon lowlands.  From field data, we determined the factors that influence the dynamics of secondary forest regrowth, including the length of the fallow period, in swidden-fallow systems as well as the economic role and importance of charcoal produced from forest fallows and of palm fiber. And more recently we explored agrobiodiversity in indigenous agroforestry systems, documenting the abundance and distribution of useful plants in home gardens – reporting in one paper the highest cultivar diversity as yet encountered in the Amazon basin – and demonstrating the importance of informal seed networks in building useful plant diversity. 

Natural Resource Extraction 

Much currency has been placed by conservationists in the potential of traditional forest product extraction (timber and non-timber products) for improving the welfare of local people and, at the same time, conserving the rain forest, but relatively little is actually known about the economic role – both past and present – of such activities in the Amazonian peasant household economy.  In an international collaborative project, we found important differences in extractive occupations across communities and households in a large nature reserve in Peru and demonstrate how differential wealth holding, even among very poor households, is highly influential in household activity choice and resource use behavior, from farmers to hunters and palm fruit collectors.  In one community a graduate student and I identified the key factors that influence local peoples’ decisions to climb rather than cut down palms to harvest fruit. The critical importance of small differences in household wealth led us to develop a new method for rapid appraisal of household wealth among rain forest households.  Such work pointed to the counter-intuitive result that in the rain forest, fisheries may be a more important risk-mitigating resource than non-timber forest products and prompted some of the first studies of the aquarium fish industry in the Amazon and the role of fish ponds in the transmission of malaria. 

Peasant Adaptation to Environmental and Economic Change

My dissertation work showed the importance of considering livelihood practices in historical depth and context.  In studies conducted since, we have identified how peasant households readily adapt their livelihood strategies to long-term economic cycles of boom and bust and to new economic opportunities.  Also of importance to resource-reliant people are abrupt changes in their biophysical environment, and both how they shape their environment and respond to exogenous environmental shocks.  In a study along the Ucayali, near Pucallpa, we document how a small group of people, using limited technology, were able to re-route one of the largest tributaries of the Amazon river, creating a massive oxbow lake.  Elsewhere, I have been following another unique case of local environmental change over the past twenty years associated with the capture of a long reach of a blackwater (nutrient poor) river by the whitewater (nutrient rich) Amazon River, observing how peasant respond to new hydrological and edaphic conditions along the floodplain.  In collaboration with one of my post-doctoral fellows, we studied the adaptive responses of the Tawahka Sumu people of Honduras, pre-and post-hurricane Mitch, and found that environmental shocks can open up new opportunities for the poorest of the poor, for improving their livelihoods and economic welfare. 

Amazon Rubber Boom

Wild rubber extraction by rural people in Amazonia fueled one of Latin America’s most explosive natural resource booms (1860-1920) and left an indelible stamp on the lives and livelihoods of rural people in Amazonia.  In collaboration with Brad Barham, we developed a new historical interpretation of the boom which accounts for the principle development outcomes begat by this extractive industry.  Geographical and economic perspectives are used to build theoretical and empirical arguments linking micro- and macro-economic processes with key outcomes of the boom.  Our work provides the conceptual basis for understanding not only this specific industry and period, but the structure and economic impacts of extractive industries in general and the experience of resource rich regions elsewhere.  Insights from this work lead us to pursue the role of sunk costs in the resource extractive sector and to the study of the role of extractive industries today in Amazonia.

Land Use and Land Cover Change

Insights from our research in the Peruvian Amazon on the microfoundations of current and historical natural resource use have been usefully applied to studies we have undertaken of land use and cover change elsewhere in Latin America, including Panama, Mexico and Brazil as well as globally. Of particular relevance to science policy discussions are perhaps those insights generated through our work the forest transition and implications of land use change strategies for atmospheric carbon mitigation..

Current Research Projects

At the moment, I have four research projects underway.

Rain forest community location: determinants and implications

In collaborative work with Dr. Yoshito Takasaki at the Tsukuba University, Japan), Dr. Christian Abizaid (U. of Toronto) and McGill Geography post-doctoral fellow Dr. Pablo Arroyo, we are undertaking a large scale study in the Peruvian Amazon of the determinants and implications of community settlement and location.  Often considered as ‘given’ by policy makers, just where and why traditional communities are located where they are bear potentially important implications for natural resource use and rural poverty, as well as program interventions aimed at conservation and development.

Historical land use, poverty traps and forest cover


In this study of agroforestry systems in a traditional Amazonian community near Iquitos, Peru, I am examining with Drs. Yoshito Takasaki (Development economist, Tsukuba University, Japan) and Jeanine Rhemtulla (Landscape ecologist, Geography, McGill) - the co-evolution of local land holding, land use and forest cover change.  Of particular interest is inequality in land use, the development of land use traps, and the implications for forest cover, biodiversity and ecosystem services.




Peasant Responses to Environmental Change

For the past twenty years, I have been following an unusual case of abrupt environmental change associated with the capture of a long reach of a blackwater (nutrient poor) river by a whitewater (nutrient rich) river in the Peruvian Amazon. My focus in this long-term study is on how peasants respond to new resource use and livelihood opportunities afforded by changes in hydrological and edaphic conditions along the floodplain.


Agricultural diversity and seed networks in the Peruvian Amazon

In this study, we are seeking to better understand the patterns, dynamics and origins of crop diversity across ethnic groups, communities and households in the Peruvian Amazon. Our current focus is on peasant home gardens which appear to hold the greatest diversity of crops among the various fields held by traditional farmers.  Informal seed networks are extensive and play an important role in the building and maintenance of agrobiodiversity in Amazonia.




Prosperity's Promise - The Amazon Rubber Boom and Distorted Economic Development

Barham, B.L. and O.T. Coomes. 1996. Prosperity's Dellplain Latin American Studies Series, Westview Press, Boulder, CO., USA. , 179 pp.

"This study provides the first integrative economic analysis of one of Latin America's most explosive natural resource export booms. The authors combine economic and geographical perspectives to build persuasive theoretical and empirical arguments linking micro- and macro-economic processes and to explain the key features and outcomes of the boom. The conclude by laying out the essential lessons learned for assesing the role of resource extraction in developing regional economies."

PDF of Book

Research Papers

Coomes, O.T., C. Abizaid and Y. Takasaki. 2020. “The Lower Ucayali river in prehistory: Cultural chronology, archeological evidence and a recently discovered Pre-Columbian site” The Geographical Review (in press).

McSweeney, K. and O.T. Coomes. 2020. “Who owns Earth? A challenge for the land change science community” Journal of Land Use Science (in press)

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, and C. Abizaid. 2020. “Impoverishment of local wild resources in western Amazonia: a large-scale community survey of local ecological knowledgeEnvironmental Research Letters (in press).

Cadieux, N., M. Kalacska, O.T. Coomes, M. Tanaka, and Y. Takasaki. 2020. “A Python algorithm for shortest-path river network distance calculations considering river flow directionData 5(1), 8.

List, G., S. Laszlo, and O.T. Coomes. 2019. “Mitigating risk for floodplain agriculture in Amazonia: an opportunity for index-based flood insuranceClimate and Development https://doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2019.1674125.

List, G. and O.T. Coomes. 2019. “Repiquetes y riesgo en el cultivo de arroz en la llanura inundable del río Amazonas cerca de Iquitos, Perú”, Folia Amazónica 28(1): 19-32.

Charette, M., L. Berrang-Ford, O.T. Coomes, E.A. Llanos-Cuentas, C. Cárcamoc, M. Kulkarnid, S.L. Harper, 2019. “Dengue incidence and sociodemographic conditions in Pucallpa, Peruvian Amazon: what role for modification of the dengue-temperature relationship?” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 102(1): 180-190.

Wilson, S.J., O.T. Coomes, and C. Ouellet Dallaire. 2019. “The ‘ecosystem service scarcity path’ to forest recovery: A local forest transition in the Ecuadorian AndesRegional Environmental Change 19: 2437-2451.

Comptour, M. A. Cosiaux, O.T. Coomes, J-C. Bader, P-O. Malaterre, J. Yoka, S. Caillon, and D. McKey. 2019 “Agricultural innovation and environmental change on the floodplains of the Congo River”, The Geographical Journal 186(1): 16-30.

Gregory, G. and O.T. Coomes 2019. “Protected areas fund rural household dispersal to urban areas in riverine Amazonia”, Human Ecology doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-0060-0.

Wilson, S.J. and O.T. Coomes. 2019. “Crisis restoration in post-frontier tropical environments: Replanting cloud forests in the Ecuadorian Andes”, Journal of Rural Studies 67: 152-165.

Coomes, O.T., B.L. Barham, G.K. MacDonald, N. Ramankutty and J-P. Chavas. 2019. “Leveraging total factor productivity growth for sustainable and resilient farming”, Nature Sustainability 2: 22–28

Coomes, O.T., G.K. MacDonald and Y. le Polain de Waroux. 2018. “Geo-spatial land price data: a public good for global change science and policy”, BioScience 68(7): 481-484.

Graesser, J., N. Ramankutty and O.T. Coomes. 2018. “Recent expansion of large-scale crop production onto deforested land in Sub-Andean South America”, Environmental Research Letters 13(8): 084021

Breau, S., B. Toy, M. Brown, R. Macdonald and O.T. Coomes. 2018. “In the footsteps of Mackintosh and Innis: Tracking Canada's economic centre of gravity since the Great Depression”, Canadian Public Policy doi.org/10.3138/cpp.2018-015

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki and J. Rhemtulla. 2017. “What fate for swidden agriculture under land constraint in tropical forests? Lessons from a long-term study in an Amazonian peasant community”, Journal of Rural Studies 54: 39-51

Holmes, L.I., C. Potvin and O.T. Coomes. 2017. “Early REDD+ implementation: The journey of an indigenous community in eastern Panama”, Forests 8, 67. doi:10.3390/f8030067

Coomes, O.T., T.M. Moore and S. Breau. 2017. “The price of journals in Geography”, The Professional Geographer 69(2): 251-262

Coomes, O.T. and B.C. Miltner. 2017. “Indigenous charcoal and biochar production: potential for soil improvement under shifting cultivation systems”, Land Degradation and Development 28: 811-821

List, G. and O.T. Coomes. 2017. “Natural hazards and risk in rice cultivation along the upper Amazon riverNatural Hazards 87(1), 165-184

Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki, and J. P. Arroyo-Mora. 2017. “Rural social networks along Amazonian rivers: seeds, labor and soccer among rural communities on the Napo River, Peru”, The Geographical Review 108(1): 92-119

Webb, J., O.T. Coomes, D. Mergler and N.A. Ross. 2017. “Levels of 1-Hydroxpyrene in urine of people living in an oil producing region of the Andean Amazon (Ecuador and Peru)”, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health doi: 10.1007/s00420-017-1258-3

Wood, S., J. Rhemtulla and O.T. Coomes. 2017. “Cropping history trumps fallow duration in long-term soil and vegetation dynamic in shifting cultivation systems of the Peruvian Amazon”, Ecological Applications 27(2): 519-531

Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes and Perrault-Archambault. 2016. “Seed sharing in Amazonian indigenous rain forest communities: A social network analysis in three Achuar villages, Peru”, Human Ecology 44(5): 577-594.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki and J.M. Rhemtulla. 2016. “Forests as landscapes of social inequality: tropical forest cover and land distribution among shifting cultivators”, Ecology and Society 21(3):20.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, C. Abizaid, and J.P. Arroyo-Mora. 2016. “Environmental and market determinants of economic orientation among rain forest communities: evidence from a large-scale survey in western Amazonia”, Ecological Economics 129: 260-271.

Holland, T. and O.T. Coomes. 2016. “Evolving frontier land markets and the opportunity cost of sparing forests in western AmazoniaLand Use Policy 58: 456-471.

Coomes, O.T., M. Lapointe, M. Templeton and G. List. 2016. “Amazon river flow regime and flood recessional agriculture: Flood stage reversals and risk of annual crop loss”, Journal of Hydrology 539: 214-222.

Ramankutty, N. and O.T. Coomes. 2016. “Land use regime shifts: an analytical framework and agenda for future land use research”, Ecology and Society 21(2): 1.

Webb, J., O.T. Coomes, N. Ross, and D. Mergler. 2016. “Mercury concentrations in urine of Amerindian populations near oil fields in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon”, Environmental Research 151: 344-350.

Wood, S.L.R., J.M. Rhemtulla and O.T. Coomes. 2016. “Intensification of tropical fallow-based agriculture: trading-off ecosystem services for economic gain in shifting cultivation landscapes?”, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 215: 47-56.

Moore, T.M. and O.T. Coomes. 2016. “Publishing journal articles in Canadian geography”, The Canadian Geographer DOI: 10.1111/cag.12252.

Webster, K., J.P. Arroyo-Mora, O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki and C. Abizaid. 2016. “A cost path and network analysis methodology to calculate distances along a complex river network in the Peruvian Amazon”, Journal of Applied Geography 73: 13-25.

Thomas, M., N. Verzelen, P. Barbillon, O.T. Coomes, S. Caillon, D. McKey, M. Elias, E. Garine, C. Raimond, D. Jarvis, J. Wencelius, C. Leclerc, V. Labeyrie, P. Hung Cuong, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue, H. Sthapit, R. Bahadur Rana, A. Barnaud, C. Violin, L.M. Arias Reyes, L. Latournerie Moreno, P. De Santis and F. Massol. 2015 “A network-based method to detect patterns of local crop biodiversity: validation at the species and infra-species levels”, Advances in Ecological Research 53: 259-320.

Coomes, O.T., S.J. McGuire, E. Garine, S. Caillon, D. McKey, E. Demeulenaere, D. Jarvis, G. Aistara, A. Barnaud, P. Clouvel, L. Emperaire, S. Louafi, P. Martin, F. Massol, M. Pautasso, C. Violon, J. Jean Wencélius. 2015. “Farmer seed networks make a limited contribution to agriculture? Four common misconceptions”, Food Policy 56: 41-50.

Webb, J., O.T. Coomes, N. Mainville and D. Mergler. 2015. “Mercury contamination of fish from rivers affected by oil extraction and deforestation in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon”, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 95: 279-285.

Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki and S. Brisson. 2015. “Social network analysis and peasant agriculture: cooperative labor as gendered relational networks”, The Professional Geographer 67(3): 447-463.

Miltner, B.C. and O.T. Coomes. 2015. “Indigenous innovation incorporates biochar into swidden-fallow agroforestry systems: charcoal kiln site agriculture in the Peruvian Amazon”, Agroforestry Systems 89(3): 409-420.

Takasaki, Y., O.T. Coomes, C. Abizaid, S. Brisson. 2014. “An efficient nonmarket institution under imperfect markets: labor sharing for tropical forest clearing”, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96(3):711-732.

Coomes, O.T., T.R. Moore, J. Paterson, S. Breau, N.A. Ross and N.T. Roulet. 2013. “Academic performance indicators for departments of geography in the U.S. and Canada”, The Professional Geographer. 65(3):433-450.

Pautasso, M., Aistara, G., Barnaud,A., Caillon, S.,Clouvel, P., Coomes, O.T., Delêtre, M., Demeulenaere, E., De Santis, P., Döring, T., Eloy, L., Emperaire, L., Garine, E., Goldringer, I., Jarvis, D., Joly, H.I., Leclerc, C., Louafi, S., Martin, P., Massol, F., McGuire, S., McKey, D., Padoch, C., Soler, C., Thomas, M. and Tramontini, S. 2012. “Seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity conservation. A review”, Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 33(1): 151-175.

Caillon, S. and O.T. Coomes. 2012. “Agriculture traditionnelle et fleurs coupées: un mariage réussi en Amazonie”, Journal des Anthropologues 128-129: 85-113.

Salonen, M., T. Toivonen, J-M Cohalan and O.T. Coomes. 2012. “Critical distances: comparing measures of spatial accessibility in the riverine landscapes of Peruvian Amazonia”, Applied Geography 32(2): 501-513.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki and J. Rhemtulla. 2011. “Land-use poverty traps identified in shifting cultivation systems shape long-term tropical forest cover”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(34): 13925-13930.

McSweeney, K. and O. T. Coomes. 2011. “Climate-related disaster opens a window of opportunity for rural poor in northeastern Honduras”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 (13): 5203-5208.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, C.Abizaid and B.L. Barham 2010. “Flood plain fisheries as natural insurance for the rural poor in tropical forest environments: evidence from Amazonia”, Fisheries Management and Ecology 17(6): 513-521.

Coomes, O.T. 2010. “Of stakes, stems and cuttings: the importance of local seed systems in traditional Amazonian societies”, The Professional Geographer 62(3): 323-334.

Barona, E., N. Ramankutty, G. Hyman and O.T. Coomes. 2010. “The role of pasture and soybean in deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon”, Environmental Research Letters 5(2): article. no. 024002.

Maheu-Giroux, M.,Casapia, V.E. Soto-Calle, L. Berrang Ford, D.L. Buckeridge, O.T. Coomes and T.W. Gyorkos. 2010. “Risk of malaria transmission from fish ponds in the Peruvian Amazon”, Acta Tropica 115(1-2): 112-118.

Takasaki, Y., B.L. Barham and O.T. Coomes. 2010. “Smoothing income against crop flood losses in Amazonia: rain forests or rivers as a safety net?”, Review of Development Economics 14(1): 48-63.

Barrett, C.B., A. Agrawal, O.T. Coomes and J-P. Platteau. 2009. STRIPE Review of the Social Sciences in the CGIAR. Science Council, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Rome, Italy, 75 pp.

Coomes, O.T., C. Abizaid and M. Lapointe. 2009. “Human modification of a large meandering Amazonian river: genesis, ecological and economic consequences of the Masisea cutoff on the central Ucayali, Peru”, Ambio 38(3): 130-134.

Manzi, M. and O.T. Coomes 2009. “Managing Amazonian palms for community use: a case of aguaje palm (Mauritia flexuosa) in Peru”, Forest Ecology and Management 257(2): 510-517.

Coomes, O.T., F. Grimard, C. Potvin and P. Sima. 2008. “The fate of the tropical forest: carbon or cattle?”, Ecological Economics 65(2): 207-212.

Moreau, M.A. and O.T. Coomes. 2008. “Structure and organisation of a small-scale fisheries: aquarium fish collection in western Amazonia”, Human Ecology 36(3): 309-323.

Perrault-Archambault, M. and O.T. Coomes. 2008. “Distribution of agrobiodiversity in home gardens along the Corrientes river, Peruvian Amazon”, Economic Botany 62(2): 109-126.

Potvin, C., O.T. Coomes and F. Grimard. 2007. “Will RED work where it should?”, Science (E-letter)

Tschakert, P., O.T. Coomes and C. Potvin. 2007. “Indigenous livelihoods, slash-and-burn agriculture, and carbon stocks in Eastern Panama”, Ecological Economics 60: 807-820.

Moreau, M.A. and O.T. Coomes. 2007. “Aquarium fish exploitation in western Amazonia: conservation issues in Peru”, Environmental Conservation 34(1): 12-22.

Moreau, M.A. and O.T. Coomes. 2006. “Potential threat of the international aquarium fish trade to silver arawana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) in the Peruvian Amazon”, Oryx 40(2): 1-9.

Coomes, O.T. 2006. “Biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation: a comment for discussion”, Proceedings of the International Conference on Biodiversity, Science and Governance, Paris, January 24-25, 2005, 3 pp.

Chhabra, A., H. Geist, R.A. Houghton, H. Haberl, A.K. Braimoh, P.L.G. Vlek, J. Patz, J. Xu, N. Ramankutty, O. Coomes and E. F. Lambin. 2006. “Multiple impacts of land-use/cover change”. In: Land-use and Land-Cover Change: Local Processes and

Global Impacts. E.F. Lambin and H.J. Geist (eds), Global Change - The IGBP Series, Springer, Berlin, pp. 71-116.

Rudel,T.K., O.T. Coomes, E. Moran, F. Achard, A. Angelsen, J. Xu, and E. Lambin. 2005. “Forest transitions: towards a global understanding of land use change”, Global Environmental Change 15: 23-31.

Barham, B.L. and O.T. Coomes. 2005. “Sunk costs, extractive industries, and development outcomes”. In: Nature, Raw Materials and Political Economy. D. Smith and P. Ciccantell (eds.) Elsevier Ltd (Oxford) pp.159-186.

Ban, N. and O.T. Coomes. 2004. “Home gardens in Amazonian Peru: diversity and exchange of planting material”, The Geographical Review 94(3): 348-367.

Coomes, O.T. 2004. “Rain forest 'conservation-through-use'? Chambira palm fibre extraction and handicraft production in a land-constrained community, Peruvian Amazon”, Biodiversity and Conservation 13(2): 351-360.

Abizaid, C. and O.T. Coomes. 2004. “Land use and forest fallowing dynamics in seasonally dry tropical forest in the southern Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico”, Land Use Policy 21(1): 71-84.

Takasaki , Y., B.L. Barham and O.T. Coomes. 2004. “Risk coping strategies in tropical forests: floods, illness, and resource extraction”, Environment and Development Economics 9(2): 203-224.

Coomes, O.T. 2004. “Paleoriverine features of the Amazon lowlands: human use of the ' arena negra' soils of Lake Charo, Northeastern Peru”, In: Explorations in Amazonian Dark Earths. B.Glaser and W.I. Woods(eds.) Springer Verlag, Heidleberg, pp.53-65.

Coomes, O.T., B.L. Barham and Y. Takasaki. 2004. “Targeting conservation-development initiatives in tropical forests: insights from analyses of rain forest use and economic reliance among Amazonian peasants”, Ecological Economics 51(1&2): 47-64.

Coomes, O.T. and N. Ban. 2004. “Cultivated plant diversity in home gardens of an Amazonian peasant village in northeastern Peru”, Economic Botany 58(3): 420-434.

Manzi, M. and O.T. Coomes. 2003. “Cormorant fishing in southwest China: a traditional fishery under siege”, The Geographical Review 92(4): 597-603.

Coomes, O.T. 2003. Brookfield, H. 2001. “Exploring agrodiversity”. Columbia University Press, New York, USA, Conservation Ecology 7(1): 4 [on line]

Coomes, O.T. and G.J. Burt. 2001. “Peasant charcoal production in the Peruvian Amazon: rain forest use and economic reliance”, Forest Ecology and Management 140: 39-50.

Takasaki, Y., B.L. Barham and O.T. Coomes. 2001. “Amazonian peasants, rain forest use, and income generation: the role of wealth and geographical factors”, Society and Natural Resources 14(4): 291-308.

Lambin, E.F., B.L. Turner II, H.J. Geist, S.B. Agbola, A. Angelsen, J.W. Bruce, O.T. Coomes et al.. 2001. “The causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the myths”, Global Environmental Change 11: 47-59.

Coomes, O.T. and B.L. Barham. 2001. “La extracción forestal y conservación del bosque humedo en la Amazonía”, In: Desarrollo Sostenible en la Amazonía: ¿Mito o Realidad? M. Hiraoka and S. Mora (eds). Editorial Abya-Yala, Quito, pp. 47-59.

Coomes, O.T., F.Grimard, and G.J. Burt, 2000. “Tropical forests and shifting cultivation: secondary forest fallow dynamics among traditional farmers of the Peruvian Amazon”, Ecological Economics 32(1): 109-124.

Takasaki, Y., B.L. Barham and O.T. Coomes. 2000. “Rural rapid appraisal in humid tropical forests: an asset possession-based approach and validation methods for wealth assessment among forest peasant households”, World Development 28(11): 1961-1977.

Takasaki, Y., B.L. Barham and O.T. Coomes. 2000."Dynamic analysis of wealth accumulation and activity choice among Amazonian peasants". Staff Paper No.434, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Barham, B.L., O.T. Coomes and Y. Takasaki, 1999. “Rain forest livelihoods: income generation, household wealth and forest use”, Unasylva 50(198): 34-42 Español PDF

Coomes, O.T. 1998. “Traditional peasant agriculture along a blackwater river of the Peruvian Amazon”, Revista Geográfica (No. 124:33-35).

Barham, B.L., J-P. Chavas, and O.T. Coomes. 1998. “Sunk costs and the natural resource extraction sector: Analytical models and historical examples of hysteresis and strategic behavior in the Americas”, Land Economics 74(4): 429-448.

Coomes, O.T., B.L. Barham, K. Chanthaboune, and Y. Takasaki. 1998. "Household demographics and natural resource use in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, northeastern Peruvian Amazon". Paper presented on September 24th to the XXI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Chicago, IL., USA.

Coomes, O.T. and B.L. Barham. 1997. “Rain forest extraction and conservation in Amazonia”, The Geographical Journal 163(2): 180-188.

Coomes, O.T. and G.J. Burt. 1997. “Indigenous market-oriented agroforestry: dissecting local diversity in western Amazonia”, Agroforestry Systems 37(1): 27-44.

Coomes, O.T., B.L. Barham and B. Craig. 1996. “Uso de recursos por los ribereños en la Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria: Datos de una encuesta reciente e implicaciones para el manejo del area protegida”, Espacio y Desarrollo no. 8 (Centro de Investigacion en Geografia Aplicada, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, Lima), pp. 5-32.

Coomes, O.T., B.L. Barham, and B. Craig, 1996. “Resource extraction and the forest peasant household: Results of analyses of IIAP data from the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve”. Working Paper prepared for The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA., 38 pp.

Coomes, O.T. 1996. “State credit programs and the peasantry under populist regimes: lessons from the APRA experience in the Peruvian Amazon”, World Development 24(8): 1333-1346.

Coomes, O.T. 1996. “Income formation among Amazonian peasant households in northeastern Peru: empirical observations & implications for market-oriented conservation”, Yearbook, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers 22: 51-64.

Coomes, O.T. 1995. “A century of rain forest use in western Amazonia: lessons for extraction-based conservation of tropical forest resources”, Forest and Conservation History 39(3): 108-120.

Coomes, O.T., 1995. “From blackwater to whitewater river: initial observations on peasant livelihood responses to fluvio-geomorphological change in western Amazonia”. Presented on February 10 to The Centre for Society, Technology, and Development, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Barham, B., O. Coomes, B. Craig and P. Tarasoff, 1995. “Wealth and the forest peasant household: evidence from the Tahuayo and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve”. Working Paper prepared for The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA., 26 pp.

Coomes, O.T., 1994. “Ayudando a los campesinos? Populismo agrario en la Amazonia Peruana: lecciones aprendidas”, In: Biodiversidad y Desarrollo Sostenible de la Amazonia en una Economía de Mercado. José, M. Toledo (ed.), Proceedings of Seminar - Workshop held at Pucallpa, Peru, October 11-15, 1994, Lima, pp.139-153.

Barham, B.L. and O.T. Coomes, 1994. “Wild rubber: industrial organisation and microeconomics of extraction during the Amazon rubber boom (1860-1920)”, Journal of Latin American Studies 29(1): 37-72.

Coomes, O.T. and B.L. Barham, 1994. “The Amazon rubber boom: labor control, resistance, and failed plantation development revisited”, Hispanic American Historical Review 72(2): 231-257.

Barham, B.L. and O.T. Coomes, 1994. “Reinterpreting the Amazon rubber boom: investment, the state and Dutch disease”, Latin American Research Review 29(2): 73-109.

Coomes, O.T., 1992. “Blackwater rivers, adaptation, and environmental heterogeneity in Amazonia”, American Anthropologist 94(3): 698-700.

Coomes, O.T., 1992. Making a Living in the Amazon Rain Forest: Peasants, Land and Economy in the Tahuayo River Basin of Northeastern Peru. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 450 pp.




My Students

Current Students:

Lesley Johnson. M.Sc. Student. Remote sensing and community location in Amazonian Peru.

David Poissant. M.Sc. Student. Overfishing and community-based fisheries management in Amazonia.

Daniel Zayonc. M.Sc. Student. Field verification of local ecological knowledge for game biodiversity in Amazonia.

Past Graduate Students & Post-Doctoral Fellows:

Lauren Wustenberg M.A. 2018. Dynamic adaptation of peasant livelihoods to river capture in the Peruvian Amazon.

Tim Holland Ph.D. 2016. Land markets, migration, and forest conservation on an Amazonian frontier in San Martin, Peru.

Geneva List M.A. 2016. Agriculture and the risk of crop loss in the Amazon river floodplain of Peru.

Gillian Gregory Ph.D. 2015. Floodplain livelihoods, rural-urban linkages, and aquatic resource conservation in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, Peruvian Amazon.

Sarah Wilson Ph.D. 2014. Replanting a future: restoring cloud forests, biodiversity and rural livelihoods in Andean landscapes.

Meghan Doiron M.Sc. 2013. Information access, market trade and rural livelihoods in the Peruvian Amazon: an analysis of communication networks and price uncertainty among riverine producers.

Benjamin Miltner M.Sc. 2013. Biochar soil management in traditional Amazonia agriculture: charcoal production and kiln site cultivation in Peru.

Jennifer Webb Ph.D. 2010. Environmental contamination of fish and humans through deforestation and oil extraction in Andean Amazonia.

Alexandre Magno Diniz CNPQ-Brazil Post-doctoral Fellow. 2009-10. Migration, colonization and livelihoods in frontier Roraima, Brazilian Amazon.

Jeanine Rhemtulla Post-doctoral Fellow. 2008-09. Market-oriented swidden-fallow agroforestry systems, economic livelihoods and landscape ecology in Peruvian Amazon.

Sean Sloan M.A. 2008. Reforestation amidst deforestation in the Bayano-Darien frontier, Eastern Panama: variations on the forest-transition thesis.

Jean-Michel Cohalan M.A. 2007. River trading in the Peruvian Amazon: market access and rural livelihoods among rain forest peoples.

Christian Abizaid Ph.D. 2007. Flood plain dynamics and traditional livelihoods in the uppper Amazon: A study along the central Ucayali river, Peru.

Maya Manzi M.A. 2005. Peasant adaptation to environmental change in the Peruvian Amazon: livelihood responses in an Amerindian and a non-Amerindian community.

Mathilde Perrault-Archambault M.A. 2005. Who manages home garden agrobiodiversity? Patterns of species distribution, planting material flow and knowledge transmission along the Corrientes river of the Peruvian Amazon.

Marie-Annick Moreau M.Sc. 2004. Rainforest fisheries: regional organization and household participation in the aquarium fish trade of the Peruvian Amazon.

Stéphanie Brisson M.A. 2003. Labor access and unequal land holdings among peasant farmers in a lowland and upland community of the Peruvian Amazon.

Mónica Kjöllerström M.Sc. 2002 (Agricultural Economics). "Reservation income and the decision to borrow: an empirical analysis of interlinked informal credit contracts in the Peruvian Amazon. (co-supervisor: Dr. John Henning, Dept. of Agricultural Economics).

Carolyn Crook Post-doctoral SSHRC fellow. 2001. Bioprospecting, resource use and environmental conservation in Costa Rica and Peru.

Kendra McSweeney Post-doctoral SSHRC fellow. 2001. Responses of indigenous peoples to abrupt environmental change: Impacts of Hurricane Mitch on the economic livelihoods of the Tawahka Sumu Indians, Honduras.

Kendra McSweeney Ph.D. 2000. “‘In the forest is our money’: the changing role of commercial extraction in Tawahka livelihoods, eastern Honduras”.

Christian Abizaid M.A. 2000. “Shifting cultivation and fallowing practices in a land-abundant ejido: an intra-community study of Nuevo Becal, Campeche, Mexico”.

Kittisack Chanthaboune M.A. 2000. “Demography, migration, and resource use among ribereño households in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peruvian Amazon”.

Natalie Lerch M.A. 1999. “Home gardens, economic plant diversity, and exchange of planting material in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve area, northeastern Peruvian Amazon”.

Kevin Taylor M.A. 1999. “Data requirements for the establishment of protected area networks” (co-supervisor: Dr. Gilles Seutin, Dept. of Geography)

Victoria Diaz M.A. (Economics) 1998 “Land holdings and Household Size: Testing Causality” (co-supervisor: Dr. Franque Grimard, Dept. of Economics)



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