Field work 2020
Initiating summer’s 2020 field work
Early on June 2020, following the gradual uplifting of COVID-19 restrictions, it was time to initiate our field work. Our initial plans for starting field work early on spring 2020 were cancelled due to COVID-19 crisis and the direct/indirect impacts of the lockdown that followed. We have adjusted our plans as to conduct field work early on summer, instead of spring, on a controlled natural environment at Kolossi area.
With the help of colleagues from Cyprus Environmental Study Centre we developed a large enclosure (20m X 30m) specially design from providing a number of different microenvironment necessary for reptiles daily activity/interactions (e.g. basking, nesting, climbing, hiding). In total five individual of the snake species Dolichophis jugularis were measured, marked and released in this enclosure. Over the following months the spatiotemporal and behavioural activity of those snakes will be closely monitored. Through this year’s field work we aim to additionally test and evaluate the effectiveness of VHF locator system and the platform developed under ReTrack project. At the same time through small-size accelerometers (attached on the animals) the behavioural activities of the animals will be monitored enriching our behavioural pattern database.
At this point we would like to thank and acknowledge all of the persons that assisted voluntarily for the development of the cage and marking of animals (alphabetically): Konstantinos Perikleous, Kyriaki Michael, Marilena Stamatiou, Orestis Karghotis, Sofia-Zacharenia Marketaki, Vasilis Tokalos.
23/05/2020 - Cyprus Scouts Association, online
Reptiles and outdoor activities
On the 23rd of May, Dr. Savvas Zotos was invited by the Cyprus Scouts Association to give a lecture on Cyprus reptiles. The lecture was conducted at a period when the Covid-19 lockdown was coming to an end and people were preparing to start outdoor activities once more. Dr. Zotos presented part of his research work on reptiles’ behavioural analysis and conservation and share his knowledge on reptiles of Cyprus, advising ways to protect when in the field and what to do when encounter with a snake. The lecture was conducted online and Dr. Zotos had the opportunity to answer numerous questions of the host and the participants. There was a lot of interest on reptiles and the research conducted at the moment and a follow-up lecture/workshop will be scheduled later on to farther discuss, in more depth, a number of relevant subjects.
The complete lecture can be seen in the video below and on the YouTube channel of “Cyprus Scouts Association” at https://youtu.be/tadI7kcCeqA
Invited talk - OUC
17/02/2020 – Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia
Managing terrestrial habitats aiming at Reptile protection and conservation
On the 17th of February Dr. Savvas Zotos was invited by Dr. Ioannis Vogiatzakis to present a talk on the postgraduate degree in Environmental Conservation and Management. Dr. Zotos presented parts of his work on reptiles’ conservation giving examples from good management practises including experiences from successful EU LIFE programmes. Dr. Zotos emphasise the importance of conducting appropriate studies before initiating an environmental management scheme. Those studies will allow appropriate authorities to proceed to more targeted and valuable for the species conservation measures. Finally, he presented the ReTrack projects and its efforts to advance the conservation of small-size reptiles. By developing innovative approaches able to give insights on habitat utilizations ReTrack project can contribute significantly on targeted site level management of reptiles.
Invited talk - RISE
13/02/2020 – RISE, Nicosia
Advancing site level management through innovative reptiles’ tracking and behavioural decryption
On the 13th of February Dr. Savvas Zotos had the privilege of presenting his work on Research Centre on Interactive Media Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies (RISE). Dr. Zotos discussed with researchers of RISE how ReTrack project and the proposed innovations will advance scientific knowledge in the fields of reptile locomotion, behavioural analysis and conservation. Current technological limitations were discussed and the solutions the ReTrack project were explained.
The talked was followed by a fruitful discussion. New possible methodologies were proposed by the researchers attending the talk and excel technological approach were discussed. A number of possible solutions to current limitation of monitoring small animals’ movement and behaviour were recognized and the most promising will be further investigate.
More detailed information on the talk can be found here
Five minutes with Dr. Zotos
30/11/2019 – Fileleftheros Newspaper
Project outcomes, interview with the press
On the 30th of November, Fileleftheros (Cypriot national newspaper) published an interview with Dr. Savvas Zotos. The article was titled “5 Minutes” by journalist Antigoni Droussiotou. In this interview, Dr. Zotos presented in brief the ReTrack Project, its scopes and the innovations, as well as what is being worked on currently. Dr. Zotos also emphasized the practical implementations of the project both in the field of ecological research/conservation as well as in education through the Development of Cyprus Virtual Biodiversity Museum.
Blender Conference 2019
24-26/10/2019 – Campagnie Theater, Amsterdam
Disseminating project outcomes
During October our colleague Jeremy Bot from Digital Life 3D Initiative participated at the Blender Conference in Amsterdam. Mr. Bot presented the techniques used for scanning, rendering and animating live animals. He gave the example of the small reptiles we work within our project. Mr. Bot emphasized not only how things are done but also why it is important for research to use these techniques while “capturing” these animals digitally.
TV show “Me alli Matia”
17/10/2019 – TV Plus, “Me alli Matia”
Project outcomes through the media
On the 17th of October, Dr. Savvas Zotos and Mrs. Stallo Demosthenous were guests of the host Christiana Stavrou on the show “Me alli Matia” featured on Cypriot channel TV Plus. Dr. Zotos presented through discussion and questions numerous themes including, an in depth explanation looking into the ReTrack project. Dr. Zotos presented the research gaps on monitoring small reptiles and the difficulties this project aim to address through the development of an innovative approach. At the same time, he emphasized the practical implementations of the project both on the field of ecological research/conservation as well as in education through the Development of Cyprus Virtual Biodiversity Museum.
Mrs. Demosthenous explain the strategy of the Terra Cypria foundation and elaborated on some of the conservation and educational programs of the organization. Mrs. Demosthenous emphasized the importance of environmental education on developing active citizens and referred to the achievements of the Environmental Study Center that Terra Cypria has been running for the past 25 years in Kretou Terra community near Akamas.
Mrs. Stavrou was kind enough to let us demonstrate some of the educational approaches through presenting the interactive abilities of the holographic pyramid and the augmented reality app we have developed. These are just two of the interactive approaches we are constructing with the goal of for the promoting ReTrack project’s results into the educational system.
Project presentation at SciShops Summer School
July 1st, 2019
From the 1st till the 4th of July, 45 participants from 15 different countries visited Limassol in Cyprus to participate in the 2019 SciShops Summer School. The main goal of SciSchops is to engage community stakeholders in knowledge cafes and other community events in order to provide examples of the benefits of community-based research. For achieving this, participants in SciShops Summer School have diverse backgrounds, ranging from researchers at universities to project managers in private companies, and varying levels of expertise in Science Shops.
As an institution we had the opportunity of hosting the participants of SciShops Summer School during the first day of their visit on the island. The ReTrack project, its main goals and aims was one of the research projects presented and discussed with the participants.
We would like to thank Dr. Katerina Kaouri that organized and coordinate SciShops Summer School 2019 and that entrusted us with supporting this project and even including a visit to our premises as part of SciShop visits in Cyprus.
Creating accurate 3D models of Cyprus’ reptiles
15 – 19/04/2019
During the 15th -19th April 2019, we had the opportunity of hosting and collaborating at the Terra Cypria premises with Dr. Duncan J. Irschick. Dr. Irschick a Professor at UMass Amherst and the Director of the Digital Life initiative for creating accurate 3D models of life on Earth (http://digitallife3d.org/). He is also the co-inventor of Geckskin™ and Beastcam™ Technologies and co-Founder of the Center for Evolutionary Materials.
Using Beastcam technology Dr. Irschick proceeded in scanning a complete list of the Cypriot Reptiles including 8 snakes, 11 lizards and 1 turtle. Two of the models (from Starred Agama and Large whip snake), when developed, will be embedded with motion and will assist in the categorization and projection of animals’ behavioral patterns as part of ReTrack project. At the same time the complete list of Cyprus’ reptiles in 3D will set the base for the development of the Cyprus’s Digital Life History Museum.
The project's Kick-off meeting took place at the premises of Open University of Cyprus. Representatives of all partners were presents.
Project's WPs were analytical discussed. Priorities and difficulties were identified and next steps were decided.
The development of the project's website has been completed. The site has been successfully launched online and will be updated continuously until the completion of the project.
Our goal is to upload on the website scientific information, including published papers, conferences proceedings and a number of media outputs such as photographs, animal 3D models, virtual representation of the identified behavioural patterns (animal motion database) and videos. A digital form of the Knowledge Transfer Package will also be uploaded upon completion.
The website is protected under the Creative Commons license allowing non-commercial use of our results.
Signed of Contract
The contract of the project ReTrack (POST-DOC/0916/0034) was signed today on the premises of Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation.
Within the project two innovative techniques will be established. The first aims to enable the semi-autonomous and continuous remote tracking of reptiles to obtain fine-scale locomotion data. The second focuses on semi-autonomously recognizing and categorizing behavioral patterns of reptiles, tagged with small-size accelerometers. This technique relies on analyzing acceleration curves through the use of pattern recognition software and linking them with a predefined behavioral pattern database. The combination of these techniques with state-of-the-art technology in remote sensing, advanced photogrammetry and image pattern recognition will allow the creation of fine scale micro-habitat utilization maps, advancing site level management through the designing of more targeted, species-based management and conservation actions.
The project is coordinated by Terra Cypria in cooperation with the Open University of Cyprus and the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment.