Rohan Arthur, Ph.D.

Title
Senior Scientist
Institution
Nature Conservation Foundation
Address
3076/5, 4th Cross, Gokulam Park
City, State, Zip
Mysore, Karnataka 570002
Country
India
E-mail
rohan[at]ncf-india.org
Award Year
2013

Research

Rohan Arthur is a senior scientist and founding trustee of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) in Karnataka, India. He heads NCF’s Oceans and Coasts program, an interdisciplinary group that works on a range of issues, including understanding human-wildlife interactions in aquatic environments. Tropical coral reefs face an uncertain future because of the harmful effects of global climate change and other stressors such as overfishing. Understanding why some reefs are able to withstand these disturbances while others succumb to them is critical to managing the ecosystems in order to maximize their resilience. In his Pew fellowship project, Arthur is seeking to better understand the contribution of fish to reef resilience. The Lakshadweep Archipelago in India offers an ideal situation to examine these factors, even though it is densely populated with humans. For decades, Lakshadweep fishermen have focused on tuna rather than species that dwell in the reefs, resulting in an abundance of species such as parrot, grouper, and snapper fish. This incidental reduction in reef fishing pressure appears to have been critical to the resilience that Lakshadweep has shown to other harmful events. But as tuna populations decline, shifts in global markets and uncertainties in pelagic tuna stocks are making fishermen look again to reef fishing as an economic alternative. A key component of Arthur’s project is focused on engaging with local fishing communities to discuss the short- and long-term costs and benefits of reef fishery choices. The information Arthur is gathering will be used to support management options in light of changing resource and fishing pressures. Identifying and measuring fish abundance and function in the ecosystem is helping him determine the role of fish in reef resistance and recovery from stress factors. Arthur hopes this work will result in fishing choices that are informed by an ecologically sound understanding of reef resilience. To learn more about Arthur, visit his bio online. http://ncf-india.org/people/rohan-arthur