Date of Award

Fall 2004

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Maki, James S.

Second Advisor

Courtright, James B.

Third Advisor

Munroe, Stephen H.


The presence of sublacustrine geothermal activity in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY has resulted in an interesting freshwater ecosystem. Analyses of bulk lake and hydrothermal vent water have indicated that vent emanations contain increased levels of mineral nutrients and gases, which, similar to marine hydrothermal emanations, are capable of supporting diverse microbial communities. The presence of methane in these geothermal fluids and the surrounding water columns suggested that methane-oxidizing bacteria should be present in these assemblages. Methane-oxidizers, or methanotrophs, are unique in their ability to utilize methane as their sole source of carbon and energy and are ubiquitous in methane containing aerobic environments. The data presented in this dissertation pertains to the distribution and concentration of methane in the hydrothermal features and water columns of Yellowstone Lake and the relative size and distribution of methanotroph communities within these features of geothermally active Mary Bay. Additionally, the methanotrophic community structure of selected vents within this basin will be discussed.



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