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Yellowstone-Grand Teton Biosphere Reserve, United States of America

The Yellowstone-Grand Teton Biosphere Area anchors a broader geography known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Our biosphere (at 1,067,380 hectares) is the heart of a mosaic of public and private lands encompassing ecologically valuable protected areas and vibrant Western communities.

The biosphere’s diversity and natural wealth includes the hydrothermal features, wildlife, vegetation, lakes, and geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River, the Grand Teton, and culturally significant landmarks like the Miller Ranch.

Designation date: 1976


Regional network:  EuroMab

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 1,067,380 ha

    • Core area(s): 1,067,380 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): N/A
    • Transition zone(s): N/A

    Location: 44°29'N; 110°34'W

    Administrative Authorities

    David Diamond
    Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, NPS
    United States of America

    Tel.: N/A


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Yellowstone-Grand Teton biosphere area is incredibly diverse. At its core, the biosphere has an array of flora and fauna, with ~1,386 native plant taxa, 11 species of amphibians, 10 species of reptiles, 341 species of birds, 81 species of mammals, and 19 species of fishes.  

    A key value of the biosphere area is the conservation of large assemblages of wildlife on a vast landscape. Specifically, the biosphere reserve has some of the largest elk herds in North America, the largest free-roaming, wild herd of bison in the United States, and one of few grizzly populations in the contiguous United States. The biosphere area supports intact native predator-prey-scavenger communities that move, migrate, and disperse across a vast landscape and are subject to a full suite of natural selection factors, including competition, disease, predation, and substantial environmental variability.

    The biosphere is home to glaciers, wetlands, numerous mountains, hundreds of lakes, and thousands of kilometers of flowing waters that historically contained 12 species of native fish, including the largest inland population of cutthroat trout in the world.

    Additionally, the biosphere reserve contains one of the most geologically dynamic areas on Earth. From high peaks and glaciers to earthquakes to shallow magma, our biosphere attracts scientists from around the world. The area contains more than 79 peaks over 10,000 feet, 10,000 hydrothermal features, the largest concentration of active geysers in the world, is one of the few places in the world where active travertine terraces are found, and is the site of many “stands” of petrified trees formed 45 to 50 million years ago. 


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The biosphere’s Managed Use Areas represent an area that adjoins the Protected Areas to the Areas of Partnership and Cooperation—it concentrates the ecologically-sustainable, human activity that occurs within biosphere. A majority of the Managed Use Areas have paved roads and dirt trails, contains housing, hotels, gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds, visitor centers, gift shops, and other amenities. There are also some thermal areas, lakes, and wildlife habitat included in the Managed Use Areas. The activities conducted here are also under strict conservation regulation, are compatible with sound ecological practices, and include environmental education, recreation, and ecotourism.

    The outermost portions of the Yellowstone Biosphere Reserve represent a mosaic of lands managed mostly by city or county municipalities, and private landowners. These areas contain a wide variety of uses, human development, and commerce opportunities (tourism sector jobs, ranching, agricultural crops, tech-service employment, etc.).


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    Last updated: June 2019