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MySwan (Australia)

MySwan (Australia)
Image: Courtesy of Ed Dunens, via MySwan.org.au.

In order to study the movements and breeding of Melbourne's Black Swans, researchers began fitting collars to Albert Park swans in 2006 and continue to this day, with around 300 wearing collars so far. The MySwan project is one of the longest-running bird studies in the world, and it's dependent on input from the public. Researchers find that public reports contribute very substantial and largely accurate data, and consider the potential of Web-based interactive tools to encourage public participation in science.

Thus far, researchers (with help from citizen-science observations) have determined several things about the black swan. Whereas the old adage that they mate for life is true, these birds also have affairs with other swans, for example. By testing the DNA of cygnets and their parents, it was revealed some young were not the offspring of both their parents at all.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raoul Mulder, Associate Professor
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: University of Melbourne Department of Zoology, Australia
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: ALL - Australia
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    Have you seen a swan wearing a neck collar? By reporting the details of a sighting, citizen scientists can make a valuable contribution to research on the behavior and movements of swans. Step through the questions on the site to provide details of the sighting, and press 'submit'. Those reporting get an instant report about the swan, with interesting information about its history and recent movements.

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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