Fall 2013 – BIOM 135N: Biology of Yellowstone Hot Springs

Colorful photo of a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.


CRN 75061 – 3 credits

Instructor: Scott Miller

E-mail: scott.miller@umontana.edu

Meets Tues./Thurs. 11:10-12 PM

* Note – the course includes a field trip to Yellowstone Sept. 20-22 (fee required)

The colorful microbial mats of Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs draw millions of visitors each year.  They also highlight the tenacity of life at environmental extremes.  This course is intended for students who are fascinated by the natural sciences but are still not certain about how research science works as a process. Together we will explore the spectacular natural classroom setting of Yellowstone’s thermal features on a weekend field trip to reveal general insights into how biological communities are shaped by the physical and chemical conditions of the environment and to provide a set of shared experiences for further discussion and development throughout the semester.   We will visit diverse hot springs to introduce: how the geology of underlying rocks determines the chemistry and temperature of hot spring waters that, in turn, drive biological diversity; the often strange ways these extremophiles make a living and how they thrive in the harsh conditions of their environment; and the colorful history of microbiological research in our nation’s first national park.   This class satisfies the Group XI (Natural Science) general education requirement.

~Submitted by Kerry L. Bright, Ph.D., Division of Biological Sciences

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