Montana State University

New guide, color wheel help Yellowstone visitors identify microbes in hot springs

December 18, 2013 -- MSU News Service

This new wheel helps visitors identify microorganisms in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. (Photo courtesy of MSU’s Thermal Biology Institute).   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu

BOZEMAN -- A new nature guide from Montana State University and the Yellowstone Association helps visitors to Yellowstone National Park use color coding to identify which microorganisms might live in the park’s hot springs.

Living Colors: Microbes of Yellowstone National Park is a full-color guide that introduces the public to some of the tiniest residents of Yellowstone. An accompanying identification wheel is also available and can be used by itself or to accompany the book.

The products were created as an educational partnership involving the Yellowstone Association, MSU’s Thermal Biology Institute and the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. Both TBI and the Montana IoE are involved in research that focuses on the critical role microbes play in human and natural ecosystems. However, despite Yellowstone seeing upwards of 3 million visitors per year, many of those visitors are unaware of the diversity of life around them. When visitors stand on a boardwalk at Yellowstone, there may be more microbes in the soil beneath their feet than humans on Earth.

YA offers numerous guides to Yellowstone wildlife, but it had no “wildlife guide” about the park’s microbes. Scientists representing many disciplines such as microbial ecology, biology, chemistry, biogeochemistry, molecular bioscience, and virology participated in creating the book and identification wheel. Their goal was to educate the public about their research and to create an attractive and accessible guide to Yellowstone’s microbes that would appeal to tourists and older children. 
 

To purchase the book or microbial identification wheel, visit https://www.yellowstoneassociation.org/ and search for “Microbes of Yellowstone” or visit any of the 11 Yellowstone Association bookstores in Yellowstone National Park or its store at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Visit http://tbi.montana.edu/livingcolors/ to learn more about the guide and to view animations of Yellowstone microbes.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu