Nachiket Kelkar

Nachiket Kelkar's picture
Nachiket Kelkar
Wildlife Conservation Trust
Real name: 

Research interests

             My research interests are mainly linked to understanding processes of change in aquatic socio-ecological systems, and their impacts on the abundance, distribution, sensory ecology, biogeography, and conservation of freshwater biodiversity, especially river dolphins and fishes. For my PhD I am studying the complex and historically produced interactions between river-floodplain hydrology, social conflict, fisheries ecology, and environmental change. In this connection, my research on the ecology of endangered Ganges river dolphins in northern India has also been continuing, with a view to find linkages between river hydrology, fishery conflicts, and species onservation in freshwater ecosystems at large. I am also a Member of the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group and a contributor to the Small Cetaceans (SM) group of the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee.

My other research involvements span a range of interests, including riverine and marine fisheries, seagrass and coral reef ecosystems, moths, plants, dugongs, turtles, crocodiles, waterbirds, otters, bats, population ecology, eco-hydrology, bioacoustics and sensory ecology, social and environmental history, conservation policy, and the application of Bayesian statistical methods in ecological research.


Peer-reviewed publications (journals and book chapters; *=corresp. author)

Krishnaswamy, J., Kelkar, N., Birkel, C. 2018. Positive and neutral effects of forest cover on dry-season stream flow in Costa Rica identified from Bayesian regression models with informative prior distributions. Hydrological Processes, In Press.

Kelkar, N.* 2018. The resource of tradition: changing identities and conservation conflicts in Gangetic fisheries. In: Srinivasan, U. and Velho, N. (eds) Conservation from the Margins. Orient BlackSwan, India.

Kelkar, N*., Dey, S., Deshpande, K., Choudhary, S.K., Dey, S., Morisaka, T. 2018. Foraging and feeding ecology of Platanista: an integrative review. Mammal Review, 48(3): 194-208.

Jumani, S., Rao, S., Kelkar, N., Machado, S., Krishnaswamy, J., Vaidyanathan, S. 2018. Fish community responses to stream flow alterations and habitat modifications by small hydropower projects in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, India. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 28(4): 979-993.

Dey, S., Dey, S., Choudhary, S.K., Kelkar N*. 2018. On the rehabilitation of a hand-reared smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) in Bihar, India. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin, 35 (2), 71-84.

Atkore, V., Kelkar, N., Krishnaswamy, J. 2017. Assessing the recovery of fish assemblages downstream of hydrological barriers in India’s Western Ghats. River Research and Applications, 33, 1026-1035.

Krishnaswamy, J., Kumar, M., Kelkar, N., Nair, T., Atkore, V. 2017. Moving from requiem to revival: India’s rivers and riverine ecosystems. Pp. 94-103. In: Hiremath, A., Rai, N., Siddhartha, A. (eds.) Transcending boundaries: reflecting on twenty years of action and research at ATREE. ATREE, Bangalore.

Khanal, G., Suryawanshi, K., Awasthi, K.D., Dhakal, M., Subedi, N., Nath, D., Kandel, R.C., Kelkar, N. 2016. Irrigation demands aggravate fishing threats to river dolphins in Nepal. Biological Conservation, 204B, 386-393.

Kelkar, N*. 2016. Digging Our Rivers’ Graves? A summary analysis of the ecological impacts of the National Waterways Bill (2015). Dams, Rivers, and People Newsletter, South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers, and People (SANDRP), 14, 1-2, p. 1-6.

Kelkar, N*. 2015. ‘Strengthening the meaning of a freshwater protected area for the Ganges River Dolphin: looking within and beyond the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, Bihar, India’. Final report submitted to the Small Cetacean Fund, International Whaling Commission (IWC), United Kingdom. 45 p. 2015.

Deshpande, K., Kelkar, N. 2015. Acoustic identification of Otomops wroughtoni and other free-tailed bat species (Chiroptera: Molossidae) from India. Acta Chiropterologica, 17, 419-428.

Deshpande, K. & Kelkar, N. 2015. How do fruit bat seed shadows benefit agroforestry? Insights from local perceptions in Kerala, India. Biotropica, 47, 654-659.

Lal Mohan, R.S., Kelkar, N*. 2015. Ganges River Dolphin. In: Johnsingh, A.J.T., Manjrekar, N. (eds.) Mammals of South Asia–Vol.II. University Press (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Choudhary, S.K., Dey, S., Kelkar, N. 2015. Locating fisheries and livelihood issues in river biodiversity conservation: Insights from long-term engagement with fisheries in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary riverscape, Bihar, India. Proceedings of the IUCN Symposium on Riverine Biodiversity, Patna, India (April 2014), 30 p.

Dey, S., Dey, S., Choudhary, S.K., Kelkar, N*. 2014. An annotated bird checklist of the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, Bhagalpur, Bihar, India, with an assessment of threats to bird conservation. Forktail, 30, 34–40.

Kelkar, N*. 2014. River Fisheries of the Gangetic basin, India: a Primer.’ Dams, Rivers & People Newsletter, September 2014, Vol. 13, Issue 3-5. 40 p.

Kelkar, N*. 2014. Politics, access and institutions in Gangetic river fisheries: two failed states. Current Conservation 8.3: 25-31 (Invited Paper).

Heithaus, M.R., Alcoverro, T., Arthur, R., Burkholder, D.A., Coates, K.A., Christianen, M.J., Kelkar, N., et al. 2014. Seagrasses in the age of sea turtle conservation and shark overfishing. Frontiers in Marine Science 1: 28. doi:10.3389/fmars.2014.00028

Kelkar, N*., Krishnaswamy, J. 2014. Restoring the Ganga for its fauna and fisheries. In: Madhusudan, M.D., Rangarajan, M., & Shahabuddin, G. (eds.) Nature Without Borders. Orient BlackSwan, India.

Van Bressem, M.F., Minton, G., Sutaria, D., Kelkar, N. et al. 2014. Cutaneous nodules in Irrawaddy dolphins: an emerging disease in vulnerable populations. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 107, 181-189.

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, 289-302.

D’Souza, E., Patankar, V., Arthur, R., Alcoverro, T., Kelkar, N*. 2013. Long-term occupancy trends in a data-poor dugong population in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. PLoS One, 10, e76181.

Arthur, R., Kelkar, N., Alcoverro, T., Madhusudan, M.D. 2013. Complex ecological pathways underlie perceptions of conflict between green turtles and fishers in the Lakshadweep Islands. Biological Conservation, 167, 25-34.

Kelkar, N*., Arthur, R., Marba, N., Alcoverro, T. 2013. Greener pastures? High-density feeding aggregations of green turtles precipitate species shifts in seagrass meadows. Journal of Ecology, 101, 1158-1168.

Kelkar, N*., Arthur, R., Marba, N., Alcoverro, T. 2013. Green turtle herbivory dominates the fate of seagrass primary production in the Lakshadweep Islands (Indian Ocean). Marine Ecology Progress Series, 485, 235-243.

Abraham, R.K. and Kelkar, N*. 2012. Do terrestrial Protected Areas conserve freshwater fish diversity? Results from the southern Western Ghats of India. Oryx, 46, 544-553.

Choudhary, S., Dey, S., Dey, S., Sagar, V., Nair, T. and Kelkar, N*. 2012. River dolphin distribution in regulated river systems: implications for dry-season flow regimes in the Gangetic basin. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 22, 11-25.

Abraham, R.K., Kelkar, N*., and Bijukumar, A. 2011. Reply to “Need for further research on the freshwater fish fauna of the Ashambu Hills landscape: a response to Abraham et al.”. Journal of Threatened Taxa 3(5): 1792-1797.

Abraham, R.K., Kelkar, N*., and Bijukumar, A. 2011. A checklist of freshwater fishes from the Agasthyamalai range, Kerala, India, with a note on species’ range extensions. Journal of Threatened Taxa 3(3): 1585-1593.

Kelkar, N*., Krishnaswamy, J. 2010. Keeping Rivers Alive. Seminar, 613, 29-34.

Kelkar, N*., Krishnaswamy, J., Choudhary, S. and Sutaria, D. 2010. Coexistence of fisheries with river dolphin conservation. Conservation Biology 24(4): 1130-1140.

Kelkar, N*. 2006. Sighting of a spotted owlet chick with erythrism in Nagpur, India. Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 20, 47.

Selected popular writing (since 2015)

  1. Kelkar, N. 2017. The prawn and the whale in my food-choice dilemmas. Link: Know Your Fish Blog, October 29, 2017.
  2. Kelkar, N. 2017. Save the Ganga, Sully the Ganga. Indian Express Sunday Magazine ‘Eye’, 23 April 2017.
  3. Kelkar, N. 2017. A river dolphin’s ear-view of India’s waterways development plans. Sanctuary Asia, Feb. 2017, pp. 58-61.
  4. Kelkar, N. & Dey, S. 2016. Tempered down: on temperaments, communities, and conflicts in the river fisheries of Bihar, amidst rigidly persistent caste and class discrimination. International Council in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), Samudra Newsletter, 75, 72-75.
  5. Kelkar, N. 2016. Turning blind eyes: do we care for river dolphins or their habitat? South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People (SANDRP).
  6. Kelkar, N. 2016. Four boats at a river crossing along the Ganga. South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers, & People,
  7. Kelkar, N. 2015. The Bihar elections and their implications for river dolphin life-histories. ResearchGate, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1220.5520, Nov. 2015. 5 p.
Thesis Title: 
Riverine ecology and Institutional Interplay: A study of conflict and adaptation in Gangetic Fisheries
Date of Graduation: 
26.05.2021, Wednesday
Graduation Batch: 

People Page

Journal Articles

Deshpande, K.*, Kelkar, N., Krishnaswamy, J. & Sankaran, M. 2021 Stretching the habitat envelope: Insectivorous bat guilds can use rubber plantations, but need understorey vegetation and forest buffers. Frontiers in Conservation Science. 2:751694.
Momblanch, A., Kelkar, N., Braulik, G. 2021 Exploring trade-offs between SDGs for Indus River Dolphin conservation and human water security in the regulated Beas River, India Sustain Sci (2021).
Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy's picture

Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy

  • Senior Adjunct Fellow, ATREE
  • Ecosystem Services & Human Wellbeing