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The Dragonfly Swarm Project

The Dragonfly Swarm Project

Dragonfly researchers know that dragonflies swarm. They also know that there are two different kinds of swarms: static feeding swarms (the dragonflies fly repeatedly over a well-defined area and fairly close to the ground, usually feeding on clouds of small insects) and migratory swarms (hundreds to millions of dragonflies flying in a single direction in massive groups, often 15-30 meters above the ground). However, these swarms are very difficult to study because they are incredibly ephemeral events. You have to be in the right place at the right time to see one and many people will go their entire lives without ever witnessing a swarm.

The Dragonfly Swarm Project uses the power of the internet to allow everyone to participate in a large-scale study of dragonfly swarming behavior. Participants observe dragonfly swarms wherever they occur, make observations of the composition and behavior of the swarm, then submit a report online. Data is compiled from the reports by an aquatic entomologist with a passion for dragonflies.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Christine Goforth, aka "Dragonfly Woman"
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: University of Arizona
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    No pre-registration required. The project offers an online dragonfly swarm reporting form. For additional information, contact the Dragonfly Woman.

See more projects in FreeObservationAll 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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