Barbara Block

Phone: (831) 655 6236
Barbara Block

Barbara A. Block was among the team that developed the original proposal to create the Center for Ocean Solutions.  She is a professor and researcher at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station.  Block received her Ph.D. from Duke University. Her research is focused on how large pelagic fishes utilize the open ocean environment. Investigations of her lab 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, 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 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.


E.L. Hazen, S.J. Jorgensen, R. Rykaczewski, S.J. Bograd, D.G. Foley, I.D. Jonsen, S.A. Shaffer, J. Dunne, D.P. Costa, L.B. Crowder, B.A. Block. Predicted Habitat Shifts of Pacific Top Predators in a Changing Climate. Nature Climate Change, (2012).

B. A. Block, I. D. Jonsen, S. J. Jorgensen, A. J. Winship, S. A. Shaffer, S. J. Bograd, E. L. Hazen, D. F.Foley, G. A. Breed, A.-L. Harrison, J. E. Ganong, A. Swithenbank, M. Castleton, H. Dewar, B. R. Mate, G. L. Shillinger, K. M. Schaefer, S. R. Benson, M. J. Weise, R. W. Henry & D. P. Costa.  Tracking Apex Marine Predator Movements in a Dynamic Ocean.  Nature  (2011)  doi:10.1038/nature10082

Shillinger G. L., Swithenbank A. M., Bailey H., Bograd S.J., Castelton M.R., Wallace B.P., Spotila J.R., Paladino F.V., Piedra R., and B.A. Block. Vertical and horizontal habitat preferences of post-nesting leatherback turtles in the South Pacific Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series. (2011) vol. 422 275:289

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. 2010. Philopatry and migration of Pacific white sharks.  Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B, 277: 679-88.

Lawson, G., Castleton, M. and B. A. Block. 2010. Movements and diving behavior of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in relation to water column structure in the Northwestern Atlantic. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 400: 245–265.

Kurota, H., McAllister, M., Lawson, G.L., Noguiera, J., S. L. Teo and B. A. Block. 2009. A sequential  Bayesian methodology to estimate movement and exploitation rates using electronic and  conventional tag data: Application to Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). Can. J. Fish Sci. 66, 321-342.

Armsworth, P.R., Block, B.A., Eagle, J. and J. E. Roughgarden. 2010. The economic efficiency of a time area closure to protect spawning bluefin tuna. Journal of Applied Ecology 47: 36-46.

Shaffer, S. A., Tremblay, Y., Weimerskirch, H., Scott, D., Thompson, D. R., Sagar, P. M., Moller, H., Taylor, G. A., Foley, D. G., Block, B. A., and Costa, D. P. 2006. Migratory shearwaters integrate oceanic resources across the Pacific Ocean in an endless summer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103: 12799-12802.

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. 310: 104-106.