Behavioural analysis

Taking behavioural analysis tests to the field

July 2019

During a two week period in July, the second step of obtaining detailed information on animal behaviour took place. This step included a number of field tests on semi-controlled environment that would allow (a) the animals to implement ordinary/daily movements and (b) the researchers to record those movements using accelerometers and HD cameras. The semi-controlled environment was an enclosure (10 X 15 meters) developed in a field, enriched with small ponds, hides, climbing surfaces, burrows etc.

For these field tests two snakes (Dolichophis jugularis) and two lizards (Stellagama stellio) were used. Small size accelerometers (http://www.technosmart.eu) were attached on strategic points on their bodies and the animal movements were recorded using HD cameras with telephoto lenses (100 – 400 mm).

Several hours of video footage has been recorded and the corresponding acceleration curves have been obtained. The time-consuming procedure of identifying and linking behaviours with acceleration curves has been initiated and we expect it to be completed by the end of 2019. The video below is an example of what we can achieve and expect by this procedure.

At this point we would like to thank and acknowledge all of the persons that assisted voluntarily making these first field tests possible and successful. Big thanks to (alphabetically): Andrea Naziri, Andreas Kourides, Athina Papatheodoulou, Christoforos Panagiotou, Danis Kourides, Elena Erotokritou, Elli Tzirkali, Foivi Valianou, Georgia Chrysanthou, Giorgos Savvides, Haroula Tsipouridou, Harris Protopapas, Ioannis Vogiatzakis, Konstantinos Charalambous, Konstantinos Perikleous, Konstantinos Tziakouris, Maria Christodoulou, Maria Elia, Marilena Stamatiou, Melios Agathaggelou, Sotiris Meletiou, Tea Arvaj.

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Initiating work on behavioural analysis

May 2019

In early May 2019, the first efforts of obtaining detailed information on animal behaviour took place at the Graphics Virtual Reality Lab , University of Cyprus. Our efforts were enhanced by a collaboration with the RISE Research Centre (Research Centre on Interactive Media Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies) that offered its facilities, equipment and experienced personnel to our assistance. We used an optical motion capture system (the Optitrack system with 12 cameras), and an additional set of 5 HD RGB cameras, to detail the 3D movements of a snake (Dolichophis jugularis) and a lizard (Stellagama stellio), depicting their behaviours for further analysis. More specifically, we attached a number of reflective markers on each of the reptiles, and capture their movements using a number of surrounding cameras. We used the Optitrack cameras that operate at a high frequency (100Hz) and can capture the position of any number of bright spots reflected by the attached markers. The markers are placed at strategic points on the articulated body so that these points can be easily and accurately located by the surrounding cameras. Both reptiles moved in a specified volume (cage) and the markers attached to their bodies were tracked over time and used to reconstruct their three-dimensional pose and motion at each instant of time. The system is able to capture 3D motion data, maintaining the subject’s correct proportions, and naturalness of action. In addition, we used accelerometers to track a number of strategic points on the reptiles, while this information in future will be matched with the detailed 3D acquisition provided by the motion capture system.

We would like to Acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Andreas Aristidou and Prof. Yiorgos Chrysanthou that embraced our vision, and for their valuable contribution.

Our efforts will be continuing throughout June and July at the facilities of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Management Lab, Open University of Cyprus and later on within field test on semi-controlled environment.