Knowledge Transfer Package

Case study species

In our experiments, we used the following two reptiles, as case studies, for testing the capability of our approach to enable behavioural analysis: Two lizards of the species Stellagama stellio and two snakes of the species Dolichophis jugularis. All individuals were collected from the field using time survey and funnel traps during spring 2019 and were released back in the field after the end of the behavioural trials, in August 2019. In all cases handling and human interaction was kept as limited as possible to minimize stress to the animals All appropriate licenses had been acquired from the Department of Environment, the Veterinary Services and Cyprus Bioethics Committee prior to collection.

Case study approaches

In the context of our study, we recorded, digitized, and categorized animals’ movements in a two-stage approach: in the lab (May and June 2019), and in the field (July 2019). Lab experiments, with one individual per species, were conducted in two wooden enclosures (2.5m x 3m for the snake and 1.5m x 1.5m for the lizard) in the facilities of the Graphics Virtual Reality Lab, University of Cyprus (Figure 2). The purpose of building these enclosures was to prevent escape, allowing at the same time free and unobstructed movement of the reptiles in the available space. The enclosures were open from above to allow direct view of the animals’ movement by a set of surrounding cameras. A total of 20 recording efforts (8 for lizard and 12 for snake), approximately 10 minute each, took place as a consequence of four days to minimize stress to the animals. During recording, animals were left alone to move freely, thus capturing general movements, while in some cases they were induced to climb, attack, flee or jump in order to record more specific movements.

Field experiments took place in a seminatural environment to record additional behaviours including social interactions. For those trials, two enclosures (10m X 15m each) were constructed in a rural field. Several microhabitats were created in each enclosure including hiding places, rock piles, wood piles, hay piles, shaders, and ponds (Figure 2 ). Prior to monitoring animals activities, one week was set as an adaptation period. Then animals were continuously monitored and recorded for three consecutive days from early in the morning (07:00 am) until late in the afternoon (07:00 pm) or until no animal could be seen moving in the enclosure. During mid-day recordings were posed since animals were avoiding exposure out to the sun.