Professor Giuseppe Donati


Professor in Biological Anthropology

School of Law and Social Sciences


I'm Professor in Biological Anthropology on the MSc in Primate Conservation and the Anthropology Programme. Over the last twenty-five years I have conducted research on behaviour, ecology, and conservation of lemurs and New World monkeys.

I initially focussed my research on some of the unique evolutionary traits that characterize lemurs, and especially their capacity to be active both during the day and at night. Through this work I contributed to the understanding of the cost-benefit involved in the transition from the nocturnal to the diurnal life-style during the evolution of primates. Over the years, I developed various strands of research with an increasing focus on primate ecology and conservation. My current research questions investigate how primates cope with fluctuating resource availability and quality and how they tolerate anthropogenic changes.

As an active member of the IUCN Lemur Specialist Group, I'm regularly involved in the assessment of the lemur conservation status and in the designing of their Conservation Action Plans. I have carried out research in the region of Fort Dauphin (South-eastern Madagascar) since 1999. There, in collaboration with various institutions and NGOs, I'm co-leading long-term studies on the fauna and the flora and their conservation managment in the protected areas of Mandena, Sainte Luce, Tsitongambarika and Ambatotsirongorongo. 

Picture: working at the Ampasy Research Station within the Tsitongambarika Protected Area (south-eastern Madagascar)

Giuseppe Donati

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught


  • Module leader: Primate Adaptation and Evolution (ANTH5013)
  • Module leader: Primate Societies (ANTH4006)
  • Contributor to: Introduction to Biological Anthropology (ANTH4001)
  • Contributor to: Anthropology in Action (ANTH5018)
  • Contributor to: Becoming an Anthropologist (ANTH4007)


  • Module Leader: MSc in Primate Conservation- Research Method (ANTH7003)
  • Module Leader: Advanced Study of Primate Adaptation and Evolution (ANTH7009)


  • Claire Mawdsley:  Can orphaned Pan troglodytes in sanctuaries maintain their cultural heritage through play?

  • Rachel M. Sawyer: Bridging the gap between primate food selection and sensory ecology: Exploring the ways in which nocturnal folivorous strepsirrhines determine food quality

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Claire Cardinal Lemur-human coexistence: the impact of human activities on the behaviour and demography of cathemeral lemurs in south-eastern Madagascar Active
Sam Hyde Roberts Behavioural ecology, adaptation and conservation of the Anosy mouse lemur (Microcebus tanosi) in the littoral forests of Sainte Luce, southeastern Madagascar Active
Bethany Watkins Beneath the moon and under the sun: what the navigational strategies of Eulemur collaris can tell us about the evolution of higher cognition Active
Elena Račevska Lemurs as protectors of the forest: Lemur seed dispersal, forest regeneration and local livelihoods in the littoral forest fragments of Madagascar 2021
Dr Kathleen Reinhardt Ecophysiology of a wild nocturnal primate the Javan Slow Loris (Nycticebus Javanicus) 2020
Dr Elena Bersacola Zooming in on human-wildlife coexistence: primate community responses in a shared agroforest landscape in Guinea-Bissau’ 2019
Dr Marco Campera Ecological flexibilty and conservation of Fleurette's sportive lemur, Lepilemur fleureatae, in the lowland rainforest of Ampasy, Tsitongambarika Protected Area 2018
Dr Michela Balestri Ecology and conservation of the southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis) in the Tsitongambarika Protected Area, south-eastern Madagascar 2018


My research topics include:

  • Determinants and evolution of activity patterns in primates
  • Primate response to habitat disturbance
  • Primate adaptation to anthropogenic habitats
  • Primate dietary adaptations and nutrional ecology
  • Primate roles for seed dispersal and forest regeneration
  • Integration of local communities in biodiversity and nature conservation
  • Protected area management 

Research impact

My research informs conservation policy and practice in Madagascar through the inclusion in International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Action Plans and collaborations with conservation and development NGOs, consultancies, private companies, and through engagement and knowledge exchange with the communities involved in area protection. My work also contributes to captive management of endangered lemur species.  

Centres and institutes


Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Navigating night and day: shifting activity patterns in primate evolution (07/01/2022 - 06/07/2024), funded by: The Leakey Foundation, funding amount received by Brookes: £13,539


slide 1 of 6

Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies


  • Editorial Board Folia Primatologica
  • Editorial Board Journal of Anthropological Sciences
  • Editorial Board Frontiers Ecology and Evolution
  • Editorial Board Animals


  • IUCN Primate Specialist Group
  • IUCN Section on Habitat Fragmentation
  • Primate Society of Great Britain
  • International Primatological Society
  • Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation