Anthony Rylands, PH.D.

Primate Conservation Director

Dr. Anthony Rylands began his career studying primates in the Amazon and Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil. Since 1996, he has served as deputy Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, and has increasingly focused his work on the objectives of the specialist group—networking, coordinating, and publishing on themes that focus on the conservation of threatened primates worldwide. He manages a small grants program, the Primate Action Fund, is editor of the journal Primate Conservation and of a primate field guide series promoted by the specialist group, and he maintains a taxonomic and conservation status database for the more than 700 primate species and subspecies now recognized.

From 1977 to 1982, Anthony carried out pioneer field studies of the behavior and ecology of marmosets and lion tamarins, which he presented to the University of Cambridge for his doctoral thesis. He was subsequently coordinator for three years (1983-1986) of the sub-project, Primates of the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (DBFF), in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund – US. These were early days for the science of conservation biology and the sub-project examined particularly the survival of primates in forest patches of different sizes surrounded by cattle pasture. In 1986, he was appointed professor of vertebrate zoology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and there collaborated in the creation of Brazil’s first graduate course in conservation biology. From 1993, Anthony was also an associate scientist for Conservation International’s Brazil Program, working with staff there on the development of conservation strategies such as biological corridors for the Amazon and Atlantic forest.

In 2000, Anthony moved to Washington, DC, to join Conservation International (CI) in its newly founded Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, acting as senior director for Conservation Biology, and eventually being appointed senior research scientist to work directly, as deputy-chair of IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group, with the then-president of CI, Russell Mittermeier, to work full time on primate conservation initiatives around the world. Anthony is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Science, and has edited nine books, and authored more than 290 articles and book chapters on protected areas and primate behavior, ecology, conservation, distributions and taxonomy. His next major ambition is to edit a field guide for the Neotropical primates, compiling and summarizing the immense amount of new information on their diversity and geographic ranges.


  • Ph.D. (Cantab.) Zoology, University of Cambridge.
  • BSc., ARCS Zoology, Imperial College, University of London.

Recent Publications

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