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K. Krishnakumar

I am an Aquatic Biologist with BSc degree in Aquaculture and an MSc in Applied Fisheries and Aquaculture from St. Albert’s College, Kochi, India. Since leaving University, I worked as a Researcher at Conservation Research Group (CRG) carrying out freshwater fish inventories in the major rivers of the region. Currently I work as a Program Officer at the Community Environmental Resource Center of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Alleppey, Kerala. My research area is fairly broad and I have worked on alien invasive species in inland aquatic ecosystems of Kerala, use of local knowledge in freshwater fish conservation, sustainable harvesting of aquatic resources and on freshwater turtle conservation.
 
Current Research Interests

Chelonian Conservation in Western Ghats
Land use changes in the Western Ghats over the last century caused by agricultural expansion, conversion to plantations and infrastructural projects have resulted in loss of forests and grasslands adversely affecting chelonian populations of the region through the loss of many critical habitats. The ever-escalating anthropogenic stressors like river sand mining, clearing of riparian zones and wetlands, damming of rivers pollution and intensive exploitation has resulted in the reduction of turtle populations in the Western Ghats. Working with tribes and forest dwelling communities in the southern Western Ghats, I am trying to determine the population status, behavior and threats to the endemic and threatened chelonians.

Sustainable Fisheries in Vembanad Lake- the inland fish basket
Extensive water and land remodeling efforts have taken place in Vembanad Lake which has drastically changed the lake's water- and landscapes, and altering natural habitats of many terrestrial and aquatic fauna and flora. Past economic, agricultural and industrial development has overlooked the importance and necessity of resource conservation and management. It was generally thought to be a luxury, to be concerned with such matters in the face of prevalent poverty and hunger and the more pressing need to meet the basic needs of a rapidly amplifying population. Construction of a 1.441 km long bund in 1976 at Thannermukham to avert salt water incursion on to the paddy fields of Kuttanad region has adversely affected the inland fisheries in Vembanad Lake which lead to unsustainable fishing practices in the lake. In order to mitigate the distress in fisheries, I try to organize the fishers and undertake capacity building and awareness exercises for developing sustainable management programs.

Environmental Education for Conserving Critical Habitats in Western Ghats
Many of the threats in Western Ghats arise from inadequate knowledge and understanding among stakeholders about the importance of biodiversity, its conservation and the consequences of its destruction. Education on these issues to the stakeholders including forest swelling communities, other forest user groups, forest officials, decision-makers, administrators, politicians and lawmakers is critical for conserving critical habitats in Western Ghats.
In the longer term, creating awareness about biodiversity conservation among children will pay off when they turn into decision-makers, forest managers and users. I collaborate with River Research Centre (India) for empowering the youths and students in Athirapally and Vazhachal Reserve Forests (Kerala) about the need for freshwater fish conservation.

Grants
My research has been funded by Chelonian Research Foundation (USA) and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (India).

Selected Publications
K. Krishnakumar, R. Raghavan, G. Prasad, A. Bijukumar, M. Sekharan, B. Pereira & A. Ali. 2009 When pets become pests! Exotic aquarium fishes and biological invasions in Kerala, India Current Science 97(4): 474-476
K. Krishnakumar, R. Raghavan & B. Pereira 2009 Protected on papers, hunted in wetlands: exploitation and trade of freshwater turtles from Punnamada, Kerala, India Tropical Conservation Science 2(3): 363-373

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