Prof. Abila

Prof. Romulus Abila

Professor of Environmental Biology


Articles in refereed Journals

  • Yvonne Wambui Githiora-Murimi, Margaret Awuor Owuor, Romulus
    , Daniel Olago & Silas Oriaso. Perceptions, trends and adaptation to climate change in Yala wetland, Kenya (2023). International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management. DOI: 10.1108/IJCCSM-07-2022-0089, (DOI to be activated in June 2023 after payment of Article Processing Fees).
  • Yvonne Wambui Githiora-Murimi, Margaret Awuor Owuor, Romulus
    , Daniel Olago & Silas Oriaso (2022) Integrating stakeholder preferences into ecosystem
    services mapping in Yala wetland, Kenya, Ecosystems and People18:1, 146-163, DOI:
  • Doryce Ndubi and Romulus AbilaMicrobial Composition and Abundance in Drinking Water Sources in Narok. Journal of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO. Vol. 1 (1) 179 – 187. Jan. – June 2021
  • Samwel, M., Abila, R.and Mabwoga, S. (2021) Assessment of Climate Variability in Kisii Kenya and Its Implications on Food Security. American Journal of Climate Change10, 386-395. doi: 4236/ajcc.2021.104019.
  • Jilani C. Chiro, Romulus Abila, Aggrey Thuo (2020) Effects of liquid waste management approaches in high end hotels on wastewater quality in Sekenani, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya (2020) American Journal of Water Resources, 2020, Vol. 8 (4), 173-181.,
  • Barasa, S. Mdyogolo, R. Abila, J. P. Grobler, R. A. Skilton, M. N. Njahira, E. J. Chemoiwa, O. G. Dangasuk, B. Kaunda-Arara and E. Verheyen (2017)   Genetic diversity and population structure of the African catfish, Clarias gariepinus(Burchell 1822) in Kenya: implication for conservation and aquaculture. Belgian Journal of Zoology 147 (2): 105 – 127.
  • Chemoiwa E.J.; Abila, R, Njenga, E.W. and Barasa, J (2017) Morphological Characterization and Relationship between Morphometric Parameters and Standard Length in Barbus altianalis (Boulenger, 1904) Populations in Lake Victoria Drainage Basin, Kenya.  Annual Research & Review in Biology, 14(5)1-11, 2017; Article no.ARRB.31984. ISSN: 2347-565X, NLM ID: 101632869 DOI
  • Abila, R. al. (2016). Oil extraction imperils Africa’s Great Lakes. Science354 (6312), 561-562.,
  • Barasa, R. Abila, J. P. Grobler, M. Agaba, E. J. Chemoiwa and B. Kaunda-Arara (2016) High genetic diversity, population structure and evolutionary change in Clariid catfishes of Yala swamp: Evidence from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Journal of Fish Biology, 89(3): 2557 – 2570. doi:10.1111/jfb.13150,
  • Paul Grobler, Sinobongo Ndyogolo, James Barasa, Romulus Abila, and Andre F.J. Schlemmer (2015)   Genetic identification of invasive walking catfish C. batrachusintermingled with  African catfish C. gariepinus in South Africa. African Journal of Wildlife Research 45(1): 55–62 (April 2015).
  • E. Barasa,R. Abila, P. J. Grobler, G. O. Dangasuk, M. Njahira and B.K. Arara ( 2014) Genetic diversity and gene flow in Clarias gariepinus from Lakes Victoria and Kanyaboli, Kenya. African Journal of Aquatic Science. 39(3): 287–293
  • Nthenge A and  Abila(2014) Dammed and Damned? Consequences of large scale land use changes on environment, livelihood and food security in the Yala swamp ecosystem, Kenya, East Africa. Int. Jnl. Adv. Res., 2(3), 1 – 13. ISSN 2320 – 9186.
  • J. Chemoiwa, R. Abila, A. Macdonald, J. Lamb, E. Njenga, J. E. Barasa ( 2013) Genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered Ripon Barbel, Barbus altanialis(Boulenger, 1900) in Lake Victoria catchment, Kenya based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. J. Appl. Ichthyol29 (2013), 1225 – 1233. doi: 10.1111/jai.12313.,
  • Abila R, Muthangya M, Mutuku E, Mutati K, Munguti M, Musyoka CM (2012) Physico – chemical and bacteriological quality assessment of shallow wells in Kitui town, Kenya.  Sci. Wat. Res (2) 27 – 33.,
  • Abila R(2011) Preliminary gut content and dentition analysis reveal subtle resource partitioning and feeding adaptations within a haplochromine cichlid community of a Lake Victoria satellite lake.   Jnl. Env. Sc. Tech. Vol. 5(6), pp. 457 – 463. June, 2011.,
  • Paul O. Angienda, Hyuk Je Lee, Kathryn R. Elmer, Romulus Abila, Eliud N. Waindi and Axel Meyer (2011). Genetic structure and gene flow in an endangered native tilapia fish (Oreochromis esculentus) compared to invasive Nile tilapia (Oreochromis  niloticus) in Yala swamp, East Africa. Conservation Genetics12:243–255.  DOI 10.1007/s10592-010-0136-2.,
  • Abila, R, Walter SalzburgerMillicent F. Ndonga, Dickson Otieno Owiti, Marta Barluenga and Axel Meyer (2008)The role of the Yala swamp lakes in   conservation of Lake Victoria basin haplochromine cichlids: evidence from genetic and trophic ecology studies. Lakes and Reservoirs: Research Management 13, 95 – 104.       doi:10.1111/j.1440-1770.2008.00366.x, 
  • Abila, R (2005)Biodiversity and sustainable management of a tropical  wetland lake ecosystem: A case study of Lake Kanyaboli, Kenya. FWU – Water Resources Publications 31- 11. Cited by Wikipedia
  • Abila, R,  Marta Barluenga, Johanness Engelken, Axel Meyer and Walter Salzburger (2004) Population –structure and genetic diversity in a                    haplochromine cichlid of a satellite lake of Lake Victoria. Molecular Ecology (2004). 13, 2589 –
  • Romulus Abila (2002). Utilization and economic valuation of the Yala swamp wetland, Kenya. In: Gawler, M. (Ed.). Best practices in participatory management. Proceedings of a workshop held at the 2ndInternational Conference on Wetlands and Development, Dakar, Senegal. Wetlands International. PP96 – 104.  IUCN – WWF Publications No 65 Wageningen, The Netherlands. ISBN 90 -1882 – 0084.  ( Available on line at:


Practical Manuals developed

  • Romulus Abila (2020) A Manual of Practical Marine Ecology. Maasai Mara University, 2020
  • Romulus Abila (2020) Tropical Ecology: A Practical Manual. Maasai Mara University, 2020



  • Romulus Abila (2023) Research Methods: A Problem based learner centered self-study approach. Maasai Mara University, 2022. Under publication by African Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi.


Presentations in popular media

Scientific and Technical Consultancy Reports

  • Romulus Abila (September, 2019) Profile of biological and physical resources and social-ecological impacts along proposed Malindi – Kilifi KETRACO high voltage electricity transmission lineA consultancy report to Africa Waste and Environment Management Centre, Nairobi.
  • Romulus Abila (December, 2019) Profile of biological and physical resources and social-ecological impacts along proposed Machakos – Mwala -Ekalaekela KETRACO high voltage electricity transmission lineA consultancy report to Africa Waste and Environment Management Centre, Nairobi.
  • Romulus Abila (August, 2019) An Initial Environmental Impact Assessment and Audit Report for Emmanuel Educational Centre, Narok.
  • Romulus Abila (May, 2015) Profile of biological and physical resources of the Chyulu Hills. A consultancy report to Africa Waste and Environment Management Centre, Nairobi for the consultancy Kenya Water Towers Agency: development of Community Development Action Plans for Chyulu water towers.
  • Romulus Abila (July, 2014) Development of the environmental monitoring programmes in relation to solid waste to protect the environment. A consultancy report to Africa Waste and Environment Management Centre, Nairobi for the consultancy Provision of Consultancy Services for Review of Kisumu Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (KISWAMP) For Kisumu City.
  • Romulus Abila et al., (2014)  Kenya- Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Aquaculture Sector Labour Market Needs Assessment. Reported of Labour Markets Needs Assessment conducted in collaboration with Q –Point, Netherlands, March 2014.
  • Romulus Abila (2012)  Biodiversity and the Role of ‘Dryland Wetlands’ in Semi Arid Mikuyuni – Mwitasyano River Catchment in South Eastern Kenya as a Source of Livelihood. Report submitted to Rufford Small Grant. April, 2012. Available at:
  • DAAD alumni expert seminar “Integrated Watershed Management for Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Conflict Resolution  Mbale, Uganda, 04th April 2011 to 14th April 2011. Report available at
  • Romulus Abila (2008) Are satellite lakes of Lake Victoria refuges for ‘lost’ tilapia genetic resources?. A Small Ecological Project Grant Report to British Ecological Society. Grant No. 945/1175.,
  • Romulus Abila (1998) An evaluation of community utilization, conservation and perception of a Kenyan wetland: A case study of the Yala swamp. Report Submitted to the BP Conservation Programme, UK.

Current research.

Prof. Abila with students Field Work 1
Prof. Abila with students Field Work 1
Prof. Abila with students Field Work 3
Prof. Abila with students Field Work 3
Prof. Abila Field Work 4
Prof. Abila Field Work 4
Prof. Abila Sample collection
Prof. Abila Sample collection









Currently I am the Principal Investigator of the UNESCO – TWAS and National Geographic Society funded research projects. My research is investigating the spatial and temporal changes in plankton community species diversity, distribution and abundance in ephemeral water bodies in Narok socio-ecological landscape. We asses structure and dynamics of plankton communities in the water pans in Narok in light of changing climatic conditions and land use changes.

Prof. Abila Field Work 2
Prof. Abila Field Work 2
Prof. Abila Field Work
Prof. Abila Field Work
building sustainable partnerships with stakeholders
building sustainable partnerships with stakeholders









The goal is to generate empirical data on limnological dynamics of ASAL water bodies and effects of climate change and land use changes on such aquatic ecosystems. Findings from this study may inform policies and sustainable management and utilization of these and similar aquatic resources. My research is also employing participatory approaches to elicit local community perception of climate change and indigenous local knowledge and practices (ILK&P) regarding climate change. Such knowledge can inform targeted climate change mitigation and adaptation interventions.




  • I am a full professor of environmental biology specialized in freshwater ecology, fisheries and biodiversity conservation. I obtained an honours BSc. in Biological Sciences and an MSc in Ecology from Moi University, Kenya in 1992 and 1995 respectively and a PhD in ecological genetics from Maseno University, Kenya / Universitaat Konstanz, Germany in 2005 undertaken through a German Academic Exchange Programme (DAAD) scholarship. My PhD focused on the role of Lake Victoria satellite lakes in the conservation of Lake Victoria cichlid fish genetic diversity.
  • Since 1993, I have carried out sustained ecological research in wetland ecosystems conservation for sustainable development and fisheries population genetics research that has incorporated local communities and students as integral partners in research. I have worked mainly in the Yala swamp wetland, Kenya’s biggest freshwater wetland.  To date, I have attracted over 19 national and international research grant funding including the BP Conservation Programme, The Ibaraki Kasumigaura Prize, Rufford Small Grant, the COMSTECH – TWAS Joint Research Grant, the Kenya National Council for Science and Technology (Kenya/South Africa Collaborative Research Grant  (Grant No. SAK/2NDCALL/34), the Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Development in Higher Education (NICHE), the British Ecological Society Grant for Scientists in Africa and the National Geographic Society (NGS – 2 times) Explorers Grant.  At Maasai Mara University I work with students and members of local communities in training on environmental sustainability and in tree planting and Narok town cleaning exercises as part of the Universities’ community engagement and outreach programmes.


Awards, Research Grants, Fellowships, Recognitions and Resource Mobilization.

  • March 2023: Awarded the National Geographic Society (NGS) (Grant No. NGS-98595R-23) for the research project Ecological and sociological dynamics of freshwater pans in a changing tropical arid and semi arid landscape’
  • November 2021: Awarded The TWAS Research Grant Agreement (RGA) For Individual Scientist No. 21-342 RG/BIO/AF/AC_G – FR3240319519 for the research project ‘Plankton species diversity and population dynamics in a highly fluctuating arid and semi arid tropical freshwater landscape’. Value of grant USD 35,400.
  • June 2021 – Awarded a University of British Columbia Field Work and small equipment grant of USD 13250 for the project ‘Tracking temporal trends in water quality of water pans in the ASAL Narok landscape’.
  • April 2021 – Awarded the Pennsylvania State University Collaborative Research Award for the project ‘Investigating climate and human induced landscape change for improving landscape regenerative capacity in Narok ASAL socio-ecological system’ Value of Award USD 13,520.00
  • June 2020 – August 2021: Awarded a SIDA Fellowship to pursue the course “Sustainable Urban Water and Sanitation – Integrated Processes” (ITP SUWAS 2020 B), financed by the Swedish Government/SIDA. This is a 5 Phase training based in Kenya, Uganda/Zambia and Sweden.
  • April 2018: Awarded the National Geographic Society (NGS) (Grant No. 422C – 18) for the research project Mapping flow of ecosystem services, land use and harnessing of ecosystem service for socio economic development and transformation in the Yala swamp wetland, Kenya. Value of grant USD $ 30,000.
  • November 2015: Awarded the British Ecological Society Ecologists in Africa award (Grant No. 5663/6707) for the research project Assessment of the genetic status of the naturalized rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, Walbaum) in the anthropogenically impacted Mount Kenya drainage system. Value of grant    £ 8,000.
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