His findings -- besides contributing to general scientific knowledge -- will be shared with the Grand Teton Association, park visitors and others, Meadow said. He will work with park staff to create interpretative materials that will explain the diversity of life forms that live only in thermal ecosystems, specifically the soil.
His research might also contribute to environmental restoration, Meadow said. Meadow worked on ecological restoration projects at mines and other industrial sites throughout the West before coming to MSU.
"Doing that, it became obvious to me that a lot of the time restoration kind of fails because we don't really understand how organisms live in really harsh environments in natural systems," Meadow said. "Thermal soil biology gives me a chance to see how organisms cope with really, really tough environments."
Zabinski said the area is "absolutely fascinating."
"You find really poorly developed soils, low nutrient levels for plant growth, soil temperatures that are at the extreme of what plant tissues can tolerate, and a set of plants, some of which only grow on hot soils and others which are widely distributed and can also tolerate the heat," she said.
|Contact: Evelyn Boswell|
Montana State University