Old Faithful Virtual Visitor Center

Lobby > Exhibits > Hot Spring Ecology > Microbes



Microorganisms called thermophiles, or heat lovers, make their homes in the hydrothermal features of Yellowstone. Although individually they are too small to be seen with the naked eye, so many are grouped together in the park’s hydrothermal features—trillions!—that they often appear as masses of color. These organisms include algae, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and archaea (ar-key-ah).

Microorganisms are among the things that add color to this thermal runoff channel

Many of these microorganisms are also called extremophiles because they inhabit environments that are extreme to human life. Imagine living in near-boiling temperatures, in hydrothermal features with the alkalinity of baking soda, or in water so acidic that it can burn holes in clothing; microorganisms in Yellowstone not only exist in such conditions, but require these extremes to thrive!

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Drawing of the outside of the visitor center
Young Scientists
Yellowstone Express
Why Geysers Erupt
Hot Water Treasures
Hot Spring Ecology
Scientific Research

This work is supported by

National Science Foundation    Yellowstone Park Foundation
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