Get access

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

Authors


Corresponding authors: Timothy R. McDermott. Tel.: 406-994-2190; fax: 406-994-3933; e-mail: timmcder@montana.edu; John D. Varley. Tel.: 406-994-2320; fax: 406-994-5122; e-mail: john.varley@montana.edu

Abstract

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 CO2, likely accommodating a CO2 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.

Ancillary