Yellowstone receives $500,000 to look for new life
Grant to research hydrothermal vents in the shoreline and bottom of Yellowstone Lake
by Yellowstone National Park
January 22, 2009
Yellowstone National Park will receive a half million dollars in federal funds to match a private donation enabling the park to conduct a groundbreaking research project.
The federal grant is part of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge, unveiled by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne at the August 2006 dedication of Yellowstone’s new Canyon Visitor Education Center. The initiative is designed to provide millions of dollars in public money to be matched by private donations in each of the ten years leading up to the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial in 2016.
The federal funds are being matched by a $500,000 grant from the Yellowstone Park Foundation, provided by a donation from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Yellowstone is one of nine National Park Service sites which receive a total of nearly $27 million to fund projects and programs under the Centennial Challenge in 2009.
The money will be used to fund a project expected to discover new life in Yellowstone. The shoreline and bottom of Yellowstone Lake contain hydrothermal vents, which are considered rich habitat for microbes. Scientists believe they may have identified just one percent of all the tiny life forms which live in the lake. They expect to discover new species by looking under a microscope at the cells of the organisms contained in the water samples. They’ll also work to uncover genetic information on the newly discovered microbes using DNA tests which originated with a bacterium first discovered in Yellowstone in the 1960s.
The results of the research will increase our knowledge of biological diversity and complexity of Yellowstone, and may offer clues leading to better understanding of global environmental issues such as water pollution, deforestation, and climate change.
The research will be conducted by a public-private partnership between Yellowstone National Park, the U.S. Geological Survey, Eastern Oceanics LLC, Montana State University’s Thermal Biology and Big Sky Institutes, and the J. Craig Venter Institute.
More information on the Centennial Challenge initiative including details on the other 2009 projects and the 2008 progress report is available online at www.nps.gov/2016.
The Yellowstone Park Foundation has been the official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park since 1996. It works in cooperation with the National Park Service to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources and the visitor experience of Yellowstone National Park. You can learn more at www.ypf.org.