Barbara Block
Charles & Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences
Evolutionary, Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Senior Fellow, by courtesy, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
(831) 655 6236
bblock at stanford dot edu

Websites: Tuna Research & Conservation Center   Global Tagging of Pacific Predators    GTOPP Blog    Woods Institute

BlockBarbara 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 movement 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 understanding 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, call 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 and 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 the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Selected Publications

Jorgensen, S. J., C. A. Reeb, T. K. Chapple, S. Anderson, C. Perle, S. R. Van Sommeran, C. Fritz Cope, A. C. Brown, P. A. Klimley, B. A. Block. 2009. Site fidelity, homing and population structure in eastern pacific white sharks. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B, doi:10:1098/rspb.2009.1155

Galli, G., Lipnick, M. and B. A. Block. 2009. The effect of thermal acclimation on action potentials and sarcolemmal K+ channels from bluefin tuna myocytes. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 297(2):R502-509.

Rooker, J., D. Secor, DeMetrio, Schloesser, R, Block, B.A., and J. Nielsen. 2008. Natal homing and
population structure in Atlantic bluefin tuna. Science 322: 742-744.

Shillinger, G., Palacios,D., Bograd, S. Swithenbank, A., Gaspar, P., Wallace, B. Spotila, J., Paladino, F., R. Piedra, R. Eckert, S. and B. A. Block. 2008. Persistent Leatherback Migration Corridor Presents Opportunities for Conservation. Public Library of Science, 7: 1408-1416.

Boustany, A. B., Reeb, C. and B. A. Block. 2008. Mitochondrial DNA and electronic tagging
reveal population structure of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Marine Biology 156:13-24.

Blank, J. M., Morrisette, J.M., Farwell, C.J., Price, M., Schallert, R. and B. A. Block. 2007.
Temperature effects on metabolic rate of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna (T. Orientalis) 2007. J. Experimental Biology. 210: 4254-4261.

Block, B.A., Teo, S., Walli, A., Boustany, A., Farwell, C., Dewar, H., Weng, K. and T. Williams. 2005. Electronic tagging and population structure of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Nature 434: 1121-1127.

Weng, K. C., Castilho, P. C., Morrissette, J., Landeira-Fernandez, A, Holts, D., Schallert, R., Goldman, K.J., Block, B.A. 2005. Satellite tagging and cardiac physiology reveal niche expansion in salmon sharks Science 310: 104-106

Boustany, A.M., et al. 2002. Satellite tagging : Expanded niche for white sharks. Nature. 415(6867):35-36.

Block, B.A., et al. 2001. Migratory movements, depth preferences, and thermal biology of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Science. 293(5533):1310-1314.

Marcinek, D.J., et al. 2001. Depth and muscle temperature of Pacific bluefin tuna examined with acoustic and pop-up satellite archival tags. Marine Biology. 138(4):869-885.

Marcinek, D.J., et al. 2001. Oxygen affinity and amino acid sequence of myoglobins from endothermic and ectothermic fish. American Journal of Physiology. 280(4):R1123-R1133.

Morrissette, J., et al. 2000. Characterization of RyR1-slow, a ryanodine receptor specific to slow-twitch skeletal muscle. American Journal of Physiology. 279(5):R1889-R1898.

Londraville, R.L., et al. 2000. Cloning of a neonatal calcium atpase isoform (SERCA 1B) from extraocular muscle of adult blue marlin (Makaira nigricans). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B. 127(2):223-233.

Maggio, T. and B.A. Block. 2000. Mattanza : Love and death in the Sea of Sicily. Science. 289(5481):876-877.

Ellerby, D.J., et al. 2000. Slow muscle function of Pacific bonito (Sarda chiliensis) during steady swimming. Journal of Experimental Biology. 203(13):2001-2013.

Reeb, C.A., L. Arcangeli, and B.A. Block. 2000. Structure and migration corridors in Pacific populations of the Swordfish Xiphius gladius, as inferred through analyses of mitochondrial DNA. Marine Biology. 136(6):1123-1131.

Tubbesing, V.A. and B.A. Block. 2000. Orbital rete and red muscle vein anatomy indicate a high degree of endothermy in the brain and eye of the salmon shark. Acta Zoologica. 81(1):49-56.

Dewar H., et al. 1999. Development of an acoustic telemetry tag for monitoring electromyograms in free-swimming fish. Journal of Experimental Biology. 202(19):2693-2699.

Shiels, H.A., et al. 1999. The sarcoplasmic reticulum plays a major role in isometric contraction in atrial muscle of yellowfin tuna. Journal of Experimental Biology. 202(7):881-890.

Brill, R.W., et al. 1999. Horizontal movements and depth distribution of large adult yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) near the Hawaiian Islands, recorded using ultrasonic telemetry: implications for the physiological ecology of pelagic fishes. Marine Biology. 133(3):395-408.

Block, B. A., Dewar, H., Farwell, C. and E. D. Prince. 1998. A New Satellite Technology for Tracking the Movements of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 95:9384-9389.

Block, B. A., Dewar, H., Williams, T., Prince, E., Farwell, C. & Fudge, D. 1998. Archival Tagging of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus thynnus). Marine Technology Society Journal. 32: 37-46.

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

Block, B. A., et al. 1997. Environmental preferences of yellowfin tuna at the northern extent of its range. Marine Biology. 130:119-132.

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

Block, B.A. 1994. Thermogenesis in muscle. Annual Review of Physiology. 56:535-577.

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