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Researcher Information


Barbara A. Block received her Ph.D. from Duke University. Her research is focused on how large pelagic fishes utilize the open ocean environment. Investigations center upon understanding the evolution of endothermic strategies in tunas, billfishes and sharks. Block and her colleagues investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying heat generation and force production in skeletal muscle, the evolution of endothermy, and the physiological ecology of tunas and billfishes. The research in the lab is interdisciplinary, combining physiology, ecology and genetics with oceanography and engineering.

Professor Block and colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have also established the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, a unique facility that permits physiological research on tunas. They are employing new techniques in wildlife telemetry and molecular genetics to directly examine the short- and long-term move-ment patterns, stock structure and behavior of tunas and billfishes. The fish are highly exploited in international fisheries, and effective management of existing biodiversity requires an under-standing of their biology and population structure. The Block lab actively engages in research at sea to understand the movements and physiological ecology of tunas and billfishes and to gain insight into the selective advantage of endothermy in fishes.

Block and her colleagues are conducting research with a new type of remote telemetry device, called pop-up satellite archival tags. The tags are essentially computers that record navigational information, body temperature, depth and ambient temperature data. The information gained with these tags will improve our understanding of the biology of these species and increase our knowledge of stock structure. The successful implementation of the novel satellite archival tag technology has provided marine researchers with new tools for studying inaccessible marine vertebrates.

Professor Block is a recipient of the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation and a MacArthur Prize Fellowship.

Contact Information:
Department of Biological Sciences
Hopkins Marine Station
Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
Phone: (831) 655-6236

Website URL
Prothro Professor of Marine Sciences
Selected Publications

Block, B.A., H. Dewar, C. Farwell and E.D. Prince. 1998. A new satellite technology for tracking the movements of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 95: 9384-9389.

Block, B.A., H. Dewar, T. Williams, E. Prince, C. Farwell and D. Fudge. 1998. Archival tagging of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnas thynnus thynnus). Mar. Tech. Soc. J. 32: 37-46.

Franck, J., J. Morrisette, J. Keen, R. Londraville, M. Beamsley and B.A. Block. 1998. Cloning and characterization of fiber type-specific ryandine receptor isoforms in the skeletal muscles of fish. Amer. J. Physiol. 275: C401-C415.

Block, B.A., J. Keen, R.W. Brill, B. Castillo, H. Dewar, E. Freund, D. Marcinek and C. Farwell. 1997. Environmental preferences of yellowfin tuna at the northern extent of its range. Mar. Biol. 130: 119-132.

Rosel, P., and B.A. Block. 1996. Mitochondrial control region variability and global population structure in the swordfish, Xiphias gladius. Mar. Biol. 125: 11-22.

Block, B.A. 1994. Thermogenesis in muscle. Ann. Rev. Physiol. 56: 535-577.

Block, B.A., J. Finnerty, A.F.R. Stewart and J.A. Kidd. 1993. Evolution of the endothermy in fish: Mapping physiological traits on a molecular phylogeny. Science 260: 210-214.

Stanford University