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We propose the use of cover as a quick, low-resolution proxy for the abundance of microbial species, which reduces polymerase chain reaction bias. We showcase this concept in a computation that uses clone library information from travertine-forming hot springs in Yellowstone National Park to provide estimates of relative covers at different locations within the spring system. Samples were used from two media: the water column and the travertine substrate. The cover distribution is found to approximate a power law for samples within the water column. Significant commonality of species with the highest cover is observed in the water column for all locations, but not for species present in the substrate at different locations or between media at the same location.