Impact of tourism on the vigilance behavior of the Cyprus rock agama (Laudakia cypriaca)

Artur Golawski, Iris Charalambidou, Sylwia Golawska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Escape behavior is a common antipredator strategy among wild animals. Here, we investigated the effect of four factors on the vigilance behavior of the endemic Cyprus rock agama (Laudakia cypriaca). Flight initiation distance (FID, the minimum distance to which an observer can approach a lizard before it flees) was measured in relation to the type of location (tourist vs. nontourist area), the observer's starting distance, air temperature, and substrate temperature. We collected data for 39 agamas in tourist areas and 34 of these lizards in nontourist areas. As a whole, the mean starting distance was 10.5 m and the FID was 3.6 m. The average substrate temperature was 34.0°C and the average air temperature 29.6°C. Only the type of area affected the agamas’ escape decisions with FID being 1.8 m shorter in tourist areas than in nontourist areas (2.7 m vs. 4.5 m). This is probably due to the habituation of lizards to the presence of humans in the former areas. This study shows that tourism strongly affects the behavior of lizards, which may have consequences for the functioning of the population. Tourists can increase the safety of lizards by creating a human shield to deter predators. Once the tourist season is over, lizards may become more vulnerable to predators.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • anthropogenic disturbance
  • flight initiation distance
  • lizards
  • tourism
  • vigilance behavior


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