Dr Rucha Karkarey

Lancaster University

Email: r.karkarey@lancaster.ac.uk    ruchakarkarey@gmail.com

Rucha is a Royal Society Newton – SERB International Fellow at the Lancaster Environment Centre, working with Dr Sally Keith. After completing a Masters in Tropical Marine Biology at the James Cook University, Australia, she went on to pursue a PhD with the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore to study the impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems in the Lakshadweep Archipelago, India. She continued as a DBT- Research Associate (postdoc) at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFF, Bangalore. Rucha’s work broadly focuses on understanding the consequences of rapid human induced environmental change (HIREC) on coral reef fish behaviour and inter-species interactions and how these influence biodiversity and ecosystem function. She has a growing interest in human-animal interactions and community-led conservation practice, is passionate about natural history (it’s a vanishing field!), supporting women and developing coral reef ecological studies in India.

Research Interests

1) Animal behaviour, biodiversity and functioning
Through her Fellowship, Rucha will explore the processes that underlie species co-existence in highly diverse ecosystems and understand how they are impacted by global environmental change. Specifically, Rucha will focus on different mechanisms of competition between coral reef fish predators and will combine existing and new empirical data (observational and experimental) with advanced statistical modelling to determine how behavioural change could scale up to affect ecosystem level metrics. The project will highlight the role of inter-species interactions in enhancing biodiversity that may be critical to manage in order to buffer ecosystems against climate-change. Rucha’s work is based in the Lakshadweep Archipelago in India. She is also interested in developing research on biodiversity and functioning across the Chagos-Lakshadweep Oceanic ridge.

2) Community-led conservation practice
Rucha’s work on reef fish behaviours with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF, Mysuru) has informed a local community-led conservation initiative around fish spawning aggregations in the Lakshadweep. She aspires to continue working with local communities to co-develop research for the effective management of burgeoning reef fisheries in the Lakshadweep Archipelago.

“A cascading catastrophe"

Popular article on the impacts of habitat degradation on coral reef fish.

“On the line”

Popular article on work with conservation of fish spawning aggregations

“Life of fry”

Newspaper story on the life of larval reef fish

“She sells, seashells, on the seashore”

Newspaper story about the influence of tourism on local culture

Selected Publications

  • Karkarey, R., Rathod, P., Arthur, R., Yadav, S., Theo, A., & Alcoverro, T. (2020). Wave exposure reduces herbivory in post-disturbed reefs by filtering species composition, abundance and behaviour of key fish herbivores. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-14.

  • Karkarey, R.,Zambre, A., Isvaran, K., & Arthur, R. (2019). Hypothesizing novel mating behaviours in the squaretail grouper based on direct behavioural observations. Rethinking Ecology. 4: 103–114.

  • Karkarey,R., Alcoverro, T., Kumar, S., & Arthur, R. (2017). Coping with catastrophe: foraging plasticity enables a benthic predator to survive in rapidly degrading coral reefs. Animal Behaviour.131, 13-22.

  • Karkarey, R., Zambre, A.,Isvaran, K., & Arthur, R. (2017). Alternative reproductive tactics and inverse size-assortment in a high-density fish spawning aggregation. BMC Ecology, 17(1), 10.

  • Karkarey, R., & Theo, A. H. (2016). Homeward bound: fish larvae use dispersal corridors when settling on coral reefs. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 14(10), 569-570.

  • Karkarey, R., Kelkar, N., Lobo, A. S., Alcoverro, T. & Arthur, R. (2014). Long-lived groupers require structurally stable reefs in the face of repeated climate change disturbances. Coral reefs, 33(2), 289-302.