Research


My research is motivated by innate curiosity in the natural world and also a keen interest in answering questions that can inform conservation and management efforts. For the past few years; I have worked (alongside colleagues) on a range of basic and applied studies in marine systems. These include studies on understanding the role of local institutions in governing resource use, socio-ecological resilience, illegal marine trade, interactions between dugongs and seagrass meadows, amongst others. For my doctoral research, I evaluated the impact of the tsunami on the coral reef communities and marine resource utilisation in the Nicobar archipelago.

My broad research interests are in understanding animal behaviour, conservation biology, species interactions, socio-ecological resilience, and ecosystem level processes in marine environments. In the future, I plan to continue studying dugongs, dolphins, coconut crabs and socio-ecological systems in the marine environment.


Ongoing project

Incorporating reef resilience into current management of the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago

Climate change is considered the greatest long-term threat to reefs. An increase in ocean sea surface temperature and frequent catastrophic disturbances have triggered widespread mortality of coral with major structural losses and significant consequences for the rest of the ecosystem, from fish to humans. The best hope for their rational conservation lies in identifying factors that could enhance the natural resilience of these systems to any kind of disturbances.

Reef resilience is likely highly contingent on local conditions, and driven by a combination of physical (e.g., depth, island aspect, temperature and terrestrial influence), ecological (e.g., herbivore density, macroalgal density), biological variables (e.g., coral-community structure, species and age class), and anthropogenic factors (e.g., fishing pressure, water pollution).

Identifying these factors, and understanding why certain factors influence structuring of the reef is critical if resilience principles have to inform rational reef conservation efforts. As part of DST-INSPIRE Faculty Award, I plan to 1. Identify a set of factors that will enable mapping of vulnerabilities and resilience of the reefs 2. Understand why certain factors contribute to the structuring of the reefs 3. Establish a long-term reef-monitoring programme across the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago.


Funding and support

Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of INDIA.


Past projects

Funding organization Details of the grant and Professional Capacity Year Title of the grant/project
Nature Conservancy, USA Trainers Training Grant ($2000) 2014 To conduct a workshop on introducing Reef Resilience to coral reef managers.
IUCN and the Nature Conservancy, USA $5000 Travel Grant 2013 To attend a workshop on Reef Resilience & Responding to Climate Change Zanzibar, Tanzania and to visit Chumbe Island Marine National Park, Tanzania to assess Reef Resilience.
Inlaks Ravi Sankaran Fellowship, INDIA Small Project Grant (Investigator) (INR 2,00,000) 2013-14 Assessing the “illegal” in illegal marine trade.
Wildlife Conservation Society, USA

 

 

Research Fellowship Programme (Investigator)($15000) 2011-12 To assess the impact of 2010 bleaching on the coral reefs of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Department of Environment and Forests, Andaman and Nicobar Administration, INDIA Under Species Recovery Programme aided under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) (Co-researcher)  2013-17 Towards Species Recovery: Research, Monitoring and Stakeholder involvement in Conservation of Dugongs in the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago, India.
Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation, UK Small Grant Project (£6000) 2010 Traditional Management and Change: Studying the Effectiveness of Marine Resource Management Systems Post-tsunami in the Nicobar Archipelago, India.
Conservation Leadership Programme, UK  ($ 2500) Travel Grant to Visit Edmonton, Canada 2010 Travel Grant to Present talk at the International Conference on Conservation Science, Edmonton, Canada, 3-7th July.
Andaman and Nicobar Forest & Plantation Development Corporation Ltd., INDIA Research Grant Investigator (INR 2,00,000) 2009 Status Survey of the Coral reefs of the Andaman Archipelago for the Project on the Second National Communication to UNFCCC.
Conservation Leadership Program, UK Future Conservationist Award, Co-investigator$15000 2009-10 Ecological Studies on the Dugong dugon of the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago: a step towards Species Conservation.
National Geographic Society, USA Young Explorer Award ($5000) 2008-09 Status and Distribution of the Coconut Crab (Birgus latro) in the Nicobar Archipelago.

Education

  • PhD in Marine & Coastal studies, Madurai Kamaraj University, India (2009-2014), Supervisors: Dr A.K. Kumaraguru, MS University. Dr Rohan Arthur, Nature Conservation Foundation.
  • Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences, Goa University, India.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Mumbai University, India.

 


Acknowledgement 

My research would have been impossible without the help of a large number of people and organisations. Following is the list of organisations who helped me with my research.


Organisations

Nature Conservation Foundation

Andaman and Nicobar island’s Environmental Team

National Centre for Biological Sciences

Centre for Wildlife Studies

Madurai Kamaraj University

Reef Watch Marine Conservation

Andaman and Nicobar Forest Department

Dakshin Foundation


Volunteers and internships

My current work is in the Andaman islands. If you are able to support yourself financially and would like to obtain experience working in the Andaman islands with me, then I am happy to discuss ideas and concepts.