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A geothermal-linked biological oasis in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

A geothermal-linked biological oasis in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Geobiology 8(4): 327-336

ISSN/ISBN: 1472-4677

PMID: 20491946

DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00244.x

Hundreds of active and dormant geothermal vents have been located on the floor of Yellowstone Lake, although characterization of the associated biology (macro or micro) has been extremely limited. Herein, we describe an aquatic moss (Fontinalis) colony closely associated with vent emissions that considerably exceeded known temperature maxima for this plant. Vent waters were supersaturated with CO(2), likely accommodating a CO(2) compensation point that would be expected to be quite elevated under these conditions. The moss was colonized by metazoa, including the crustaceans Hyalella and Gammarus, a segmented worm in the Lumbriculidae family, and a flatworm specimen tentatively identified as Polycelis. The presence of these invertebrates suggest a highly localized food chain that derives from the presence of geothermal inputs and thus is analogous to the deep marine vents that support significant biodiversity.

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Accession: 051140845

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