We report an assessment of whole-community diversity for an extremely isolated geothermal location with considerable phylogenetic and phylogeographic novelty. We further demonstrate, using multiple statistical analyses of sequence data, that the response of community diversity is not monotonic to thermal stress along a gradient of 52-83 degrees C. A combination of domain- and division-specific PCR was used to obtain a broad spectrum of community phylotypes, which were resolved by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Among 58 sequences obtained from microbial mats and streamers, some 95% suggest novel archaeal and bacterial diversity at the species level or higher. Moreover, new phylogeographic and thermally defined lineages among the Cyanobacteria, Chloroflexi, Eubacterium and Thermus are identified. Shannon-Wiener diversity estimates suggest that mats at 63 degrees C supported highest diversity, but when alternate models were applied [Average Taxonomic Distinctness (AvTD) and Variation in Taxonomic Distinctness (VarTD)] that also take into account the phylogenetic relationships between phylotypes, it is evident that greatest taxonomic diversity (AvTD) occurred in streamers at 65-70 degrees C, whereas greatest phylogenetic distance between taxa (VarTD) occurred in streamers of 83 degrees C. All models demonstrated that diversity is not related to thermal stress in a linear fashion.