Robert Van Syoc

  • Research Fellow
  • Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
  • PhD

Bob’s current research focuses on symbiotic relationships of barnacles with sponges and corals. 

Dr. Van Syoc, Senior Collection Manager of Invertebrates at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, has been a CAS staff member since his student days at San Francisco State University in 1979.  During his academic career Bob has studied various topics in marine ecology and invertebrate zoology, from San Francisco Bay to the South Pacific.  Bob earned his Ph.D. at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography,  where he used DNA analysis to study genetic relationships and speciation among barnacles at the molecular level.  Bob’s current research focuses on symbiotic relationships of barnacles with sponges and corals. 

Barnacles live in all of the worlds' oceans, from the depths of hydrothermal vents to the tidal pools and estuaries.  Therefore, they can be very useful for studying biogeography and ecology as well as phylogenetics.  Their hard shells remain long after the inhabitant is dead.  These shells are abundant along all continental margins and many become fossilized.  In fact, Charles Darwin recognized that “Cirripedes now abound so under every zone, all over the world, that the present period will hereafter apparently have as good a claim to be called the age of Cirripedes, as the Palaeozoic period has to be called the age of Trilobites.”  So, you can see how an evolutionary biologist might find them interesting.

California Academy of Sciences: Senior Collection Manager, 1994-present

Invertebrate Zoology and Geology Collection Manager, 1983-1994

Curatorial Asst., 1979-1983

University of California, San Diego: Teaching Asst., (Genetics, Evolution, General Biology) 1990-91

San Francisco State University: Lecturer in Biology, 1978-79

Research Professor, 2004 to present


2009.  Cirripedia. p. 283-290.  In: I. S. Wehrtmann and J. Cortes (eds.) Marine Biodiversity of Costa Rica, Central America.  Monographiae Biologicae Vol. 86.  Springer.

2007.  Methods of preservation and anesthetization of marine invertebrates. p. 37-41. In: J. T. Carlton (ed.) The Light and Smith Manual: intertidal invertebrates from central California to Oregon. 4th Ed. (with Gary Williams).

2006.  A new genus and species of high intertidal barnacle (Cirripedia, Tetraclitidae) from Baja California Sur, México.  Zootaxa 1118: 57-68 (2006).  (with Liza Gomez-Daglio).

1999.  Sponge inhabiting barnacles of the Americas: A new species of Acasta (Cirripedia; Archaeobalanidae), first record from the eastern Pacific, including discussion of the evolution of cirral morphology. Crustaceana 72(5):467-486.  (with R. Winther)

1998.  Whale barnacles: crustacean hitchhikers.  Upwellings 4(1):2-3.

1996.   Barnacles of Rocas Alijos. p. 299-304, In: R. Schmeider (ed.) Rocas Alijos: Scientific results from the Cordell Expeditions.  Monographiae Biologicae 75.  H. J. Dumont & M. J. A. Werger, series eds., Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

1995.    Barnacle mitochondrial DNA: Determining genetic relationships among species of PollicipesIn: Schram, F. and J. Høeg (eds.) New Frontiers in Barnacle Evolution.  Crustacean Issues: 10: 269-296. A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam.

1994.  Genetic divergence between subpopulations of the eastern Pacific goose barnacle Pollicipes elegans:  mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 nucleotide sequences.  Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology 3(6):338-346.

1993.  PCR primers for the CO1 gene in barnacle mtDNA.  Newsletter Crustacean Molecular Techniques  4:1-2.

1992.  Living and fossil populations of a western Atlantic barnacle, Balanus subalbidus  Henry, 1974, in the Gulf of California region. Proc. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist. 12:1-7.

1992.  Genetic divergence between reproductive types in northern and southern populations of the edible goose barnacle, Pollicipes.  California Sea Grant Biennial Report of Completed Projects 1988-1990.  University of California, La Jolla.  Publ. No. R-CSGCP-033: 210-211. [with W. A. Newman]

1988. Description of Membranobalanus robinae, a new species of sponge barnacle from Baja California, with a key to the genus.  Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 101(4): 832-837.

1986. The occurrence of Lepas anatifera on Mirounga angustris and Zalophus californica.  California Department of Fish & Game Bulletin 72(2):124-126.  [with Jan Roletto]


  • Robert Van Syoc
  • Research Fellow
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5259 (direct)