Errington Memorial Lecture: Tracking Giants across the Blue Oceans

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Date/Time:Thursday, 11 Nov 2010 at 7:00 pm
Location:Sun Room, Memorial Union
Channel:Lecture Series
Categories:Lectures Live Green
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Marine biologist Barbara Block is recognized for her research on the movement patterns and behavior of large pelagic fishes, such as tunas, billfishes and sharks. A former MacArthur Fellow, Block helped establish the Tuna Research and Conservation Center to study the physiology and population structure of these species, which are highly exploited by international fisheries.

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 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.