What I teach


My Research Interests


Current Research Projects




Research Papers


My Students





Dr. Oliver T. Coomes

Department of Geography
McGill University,
805 Sherbrooke Street West,
Montreal, QC H3A 0B9


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.



Contact Information

Department of Geography

McGill University

805 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 0B9

phone: (514) 398-4111 fax: (514) 398-7437

Undergraduate Email

Graduate Email

Last updated March 30, 2016