The extent and diversity of geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) represent a fascinating array of high temperature geochemical environments that host a corresponding number of unique and potentially novel organisms in all of the three recognized domains of life: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya.
The geothermal features of YNP have long been the subject of scientific inquiry, especially in the fields of microbiology, geochemistry, geothermal hydrology, microbial ecology, and population biology.
The primary goal of the Research Coordination Network is to develop a more unified effort among scientists and resource agencies to characterize, describe, understand and inventory the diverse biota associated with geothermal habitats in YNP.
Participants of the RCN will coordinate research and outreach activities including the development of database systems and virtual libraries, and the application of advanced geochemical and molecular methods to characterizing geothermal systems.
Participation of all researchers working on geothermal biology of microorganisms at YNP will be encouraged.
Regarding broader scientific impacts, the Research Coordination Network will result in improved collaboration among research scientists focused on advancing the forefront of scientific inquiry in geomicrobiology, microbial speciation, microbial physiology, microbial ecology, molecular phylogenetics, and functional genomics.
Furthermore, the targeted outcomes of the RCN will have broader impacts to several different audiences including (i) scientific collaborators advancing fundamental understanding of life in extreme environments, (ii) agency personnel responsible for inventory and management of geothermal resources in YNP, and (iii) educators focused on YNP visitors, K-12 students, undergraduate students, and graduate students representing disciplines of geology, geochemistry, microbiology, and ecology.
- Develop a coordinated network of research scientists focused on geothermal biology and geochemistry in YNP.
- Facilitate greater coordination and collaboration on current and future scientific research, data collection, and resource inventory of geothermal features in YNP.
- Initiate and develop mechanisms to increase information-sharing among participants, and to utilize data collections and educational resources more effectively to reach multiple audiences.
- Facilitate research and educational activities among participants that
capitalize on synergistic overlap and information sharing.
- Utilize the productivity and progress of a RCN as a platform to solicit funding for multi-institutional and multi-agency initiatives directed towards future research and education on geothermal biology in YNP.