Fisheries Ecology & Enhancement

Dr. Kenneth M. Leber

Dr. Kenneth M. Leber

Associate Vice President for Research, Program Manager for Fisheries Ecology and Enhancement, Charles M. Breder Chair

Fields of Competence

Fisheries ecology, stock enhancement, seagrass ecology, ecology of sandy beaches, habitat selection, predator-prey interactions, aquatic food webs, plant-animal interactions, experimental design, biostatistics, computer programming, oceanographic methods, tagging methods, marine aquaculture.


Ken Leber is the Associate Vice President of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture. His specialties are marine fisheries enhancement and fisheries-habitat ecology. Dr. Leber has conducted research on predator-prey dynamics in seagrass meadows in coastal systems of Florida. Since 1988 he has focused much of his research on developing and evaluating a responsible approach to marine stock enhancement, with particular emphasis on optimizing release strategies and evaluating hatchery-wild fish interactions in rivers, estuaries and bays in Hawaii and Florida. He started his stock-enhancement research program in Hawaii’s estuaries and coastal habitats with striped mullet and Pacific threadfin. In 1995, he coauthored ‘A responsible approach to marine stock enhancement’ with Lee Blankenship, and updated that with Kai Lorenzen in 2010. In 2014, the American Fisheries Society reprinted in full that 1995 article in the AFS book, Foundations in Fisheries science. In 1996, Dr. Leber began research on red drum and common snook stock enhancement in Florida’s estuaries and the Gulf of Mexico. His current focus includes expanding use of hatcheries to evaluate ecological questions about wild stock recruitment dynamics and density dependence. He is a collaborator on projects in China, Australia, Costa Rica, Israel and several other countries in the Mid-East. He has published over 50 articles in scientific journals and books. He has served as advisor for 4 Post-doctoral fellowships, 4 Ph.D. students and 3 M.S. students. Dr. Leber is also an adjunct Professor in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida.

Dr. Leber joined Mote Marine Laboratory in August 1996 as a Senior Scientist and Director of the Center for Fisheries Enhancement. Dr. Leber occupies the Charles M. Breder Chair, which was established at Mote to support the study of the biology, behavior and conservation of fishes. He is directing a multi-disciplinary research center that includes studies of fish population ecology, marine stock enhancement, marine aquaculture, stock assessment, fish dispersal, age and growth patterns, habitat requirements, habitat selection and current problems in fisheries management. Most of these studies involve collaborative interactions with researchers from other institutions. Dr. Leber has more than 25 years of experience in his fields of expertise. Prior to joining Mote, Dr. Leber was Program Manager of the Stock-Enhancement Program at the Oceanic Institute in Waimanalo, Hawaii. Since 1985, his research has focused on developing marine fish and crustacean aquaculture technology, development and evaluation of responsible hatchery-release technology for replenishing depleted populations of marine organisms, development of a prototype marine stock-enhancement program for the State of Hawaii and testing and refining coastal stock-enhancement techniques in Florida.


Ph.D. Marine Ecology, Department of Biological Science, Florida State University

M.S. Biology, Biology Department, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

B.S. Biology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA


Marine Stock Enhancement:

Ma, Qian, Seifu Seyoum, Michael D. Tringali, Matthew J. Resley, Nicole R. Rhody, Kevan L. Main and Kenneth M. Leber. 2017. Evaluating spawning performance among captive Florida pompano Trachinotus carolinus broodstock using microsatellite-based parentage assignment. Aquac Res. 2017;00:1–12.

Taylor, M.D., R.C. Chick, K. Lorenzen, A. Agnault, K.M. Leber, H.L. Blankenship, G. Vanderhaegen, N.R. Loneragan. 2017. Fisheries enhancement and restoration in a changing world. Fisheries Research, 186(2):407-412.

Leber, K.M., C.-S. Lee, N. P. Brennan, S. M. Arce, C. Tamaru, L. Blankenship and R. T. Nishimoto. 2016. Stock enhancement of Mugilidae in Hawaii (USA). pp. 467-486 In: Crosetti, D. and S.J.M. Blaber (Eds). Biology, ecology and culture of grey mullets (Mugilidae). CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA.  ISBN 9781482252125

Jesse T. Trushenski, H. Lee Blankenship, James D. Bowker, Thomas A. Flagg, Jay A. Hesse, Kenneth M. Leber, Don D. MacKinlay, Desmond J. Maynard, Christine M. Moffitt, Vincent A. Mudrak, Kim T. Scribner, Scott F. Stuewe, John A. Sweka, Gary E. Whelan & Connie Young-Dubovsky. 2015. Introduction to a Special Section: Hatcheries and Management of Aquatic Resources (HaMAR)—Considerations for Use of Hatcheries and Hatchery-Origin Fish, North American Journal of Aquaculture, 77(3):327-342.

Trushenski J., L. Blankenship, J. Bowker, T. Flagg, J. Hesse, K. Leber, K. Lorenzen, D. MacKinlay, D. Maynard, C. Moffitt, V. Mudrak (retired), K. Scribner, S. Stuewe, J. Sweka, G. Whelan & C. Young-Dubovsky. 2014. AFS Completes Assessment, Issues New Guidance Regarding Hatchery Operation and the Use of Hatchery-Origin Fish, Fisheries, 39:11, 543-547.

M. J. Resley, M. Nystrom, C. Yanes-Roca, K. M. Leber and K. L. Main. 2014. Controlled Maturation and Spawning of Captive Black Snook. World Aquaculture Sept. 2014:29-34.

Blankenship, H.L. and K.M. Leber. 2014. A responsible approach to marine stock enhancement. Pp 659-668. Reprinted In: Sass, G.G. and M.S. Allen (Eds) Foundations of Fisheries Science. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

Lorenzen, K., A.-L. Agnalt, H. L. Blankenship, A. Hines, K. M. Leber, N. R. Loneragan, M. Taylor. 2013. Evolving context and maturing science: aquaculture-based enhancement and restoration enter the coastal fisheries management toolbox. Reviews in Fisheries Science., 21:213-221.  

Taylor, M.D., N.P. Brennan, K. Lorenzen, K.M. Leber. 2013. Generalised Predatory Impact Model: A generalised numerical approach for assessing trophic limits to hatchery releases and controlling related ecological risks. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 21(3-4):341-353.

Camp, E.V., K. Lorenzen, R. N. M. Ahrens, L. Barbieri, and K.M. Leber.  2013.  Potentials and limitations of stock enhancement in marine recreational fisheries systems: An integrative review of Florida’s red drum enhancement.  Reviews in Fisheries Science 21(3–-4): 388–402.  DOI: 10.1080/10641262.2013.83807

Leber, K.M. 2013. Marine Fisheries Enhancement: Coming of Age in the New Millennium. Pp. 1139-1157 In: P. Christou R Savin, B.A. Costa-Pierce, I. Misztal, C.B.A. Whitelaw (eds.), Sustainable Food Production. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-5797-8, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Originally published in Robert A. Meyers (ed.). 2012. Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3

Leber, K.M. and H.L. Blankenship 2012. How advances in tagging technology improved progress in a new science: marine stock enhancement. Introductory chapter Pages 1-12 In: American Fisheries Society Symposium 76: 2nd International Symposium on Advances in Fish Marking and Tagging Technology. 

Lorenzen, K., K.M. Leber and H.L. Blankenship. 2010. Responsible approach to marine stock enhancement: an update. Reviews in Fisheries Science 18(2):189-210.Lorenzen, K., R.S. Steneck, R.R. Warner, A.M. Parma, F.C. Coleman, and K.M. Leber. (2010) The spatial dimensions of fisheries: putting it all in place. Bulletin of  Marine Science 86(2):169-178.

Bell, Johann D., Kenneth M. Leber, H. Lee Blankenship, Neil R. Loneragan, Reiji Masuda and Geraldine Vander Haegen (Editors). 2008. A New Era for Restocking, Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching of Coastal Fisheries Resources. Special Issue, Reviews in Fisheries Science 16(1-3). 402 pp.

Bell, J.D., K.M. Leber, H.L. Blankenship, N.R. Loneragan, and R. Masuda. 2008. A new era for restocking, stock enhancement and sea ranching of coastal fisheries. Reviews in Fisheries Science 16(1-3): 1-9.

Brennan, N.P., C.W. Walters, and K.M. Leber.2008.Manipulations of stocking magnitude:addressing density dependence in juvenile cohorts of common snook Centropomus undecimalis.Reviews in Fisheries Science 16(1-3): 215-227.

Tringali, M.D., K.M. Leber, W.G. Halstead, R. McMichael, J. O’Hop, B. Winner, R. Cody, C. Young, C. Neidig, H. Wolfe, A. Forstchen, and L. Barbieri. 2008. Marine Stock Enhancement in Florida: A Multi-disciplinary, Stakeholder-supported, Accountability-based Approach. Reviews in Fisheries Science. 16(1-3):51-57.

Brennan, N.P., K.M. Leber, and B. R. Blackburn.2007. Use of coded-wire and visible implant elastomer tags for marine stock enhancement with juvenile red snapper. Fisheries Research. 83:90-97.

Brennan, N.P., M.C. Darcy, and K.M. Leber. 2006. Predator-free enclosures improve post-release survival of stocked common snook. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 335(2): 302-311.

Leber, K. M., R. N. Cantrell and P.S. Leung. 2005.Optimizing Cost-Effectiveness of Size at Release in Stock Enhancement Programs. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25:1596-1608.

Brennan, N. P., K. M. Leber, H. L. Blankenship,J. M. Ransier, R. DeBruler, Jr.. 2005. An evaluation of coded wire and elastomer tag performance in juvenile common snook under field and laboratory conditions. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25:437-445.

Bartley, D.M. and K.M. Leber (Editors). 2004. Marine Ranching. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No 429. Food and Agricultureal Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. 213 pp.

Leber, K. M. 2004. Marine Stock Enhancement in the USA: Status, trends and needs. Pp 11-24 In Leber, K.M., S. Kitada, T. Svåsand and H.L. Blankenship (Editors) Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching: Developments, Pitfalls and Opportunities. 2nd Edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. 562 pp.

Leber, K. M., S. Kitada, T. Svåsand and H.L. Blankenship (Editors). 2004. Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching: Developments, Pitfalls and Opportunities. 2nd Edition. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. 562 pp. Preview at Blackwell's web site for the book

Leber, K. M.2002. Advances in marine stock enhancement: shifting emphasis to theory and accountability. Pp 79-90 In Stickney, R. R. and J. P. McVey (eds) Responsible Marine Aquaculture CABI Publishing, New York.

Blaylock, R. B., Leber, K. M., Lotz, J. M., and D. A. Ziemann.2000. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico Marine Stock Enhancement Program (USGMSEP): The use of aquaculture technology in “responsible” stock enhancement. Bulletin of the Aquaculture Association of Canada 100(3):16-22.

Tringali, M.D. and K. M. Leber. 1999. Genetic considerations during the experimental and expanded phases of snook stock enhancement. Bull. National Research Institute Aquaculture (Japan) Suppl. 1:109-119.

Leber, K. M. 1999. Rationale for an Experimental Approach to Stock Enhancement. Pages 63-75 in Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching (Ed. by B.R. Howell, E. Moksness, and T. Svåsand) Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. 606 pages.

Pruder, Gary D., David A. Ziemann, Kenneth M. Leber, Jeffrey M. Lotz, William E. Hawkins, and Lytha D. Conquest. 1999. U.S. Gulf of Mexico marine stock enhancement five-year program: 1999 – 2004: Program management for planning, execution, review, and evaluation. Bull. National Research Institute Aquaculture (Japan) Suppl. 1:89-99.

Leber, K. M., N. P. Brennan and S. M. Arce. 1998. Recruitment patterns of juvenile, cultured Pacific threadfin, Polydactylus sexfilis (Polynemidae), released along sandy marine shores in Hawaii. Bulletin of Marine Science 62(2):389-408.

Leber, K. M., H. L. Blankenship, S. M. Arce, and N. P. Brennan. 1997. Influence of release season on size-dependent survival of cultured striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, in a Hawaiian estuary. Fishery Bulletin, 95(2):267-279.

Leber, K. M. and C-S. Lee. 1997. Marine stock-enhancement potential with striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, in Hawaii. Bulletin of National Research Institute for Aquaculture, Suppl.3:117-134.

Leber, K. M. and S. M. Arce. 1996. Stock enhancement effect in a commercial mullet Mugil cephalus fishery in Hawaii. Fisheries Management and Ecology 3:261-278.

Leber, K. M., S. M. Arce, D. A. Sterritt, and N. P. Brennan. 1996. Marine stock-enhancement potential in nursery habitats of striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, in Hawaii. Fishery Bulletin 94(3):452-471.

Blankenship, H. Lee and Kenneth M. Leber. 1995. A responsible approach to marine stock enhancement. In Uses and effects of cultured fishes in aquatic ecosystems. American Fisheries Society Symposium 15:165-175.

Leber, K. M., N. P. Brennan, and S. M. Arce. 1995. Marine enhancement with striped mullet: are hatchery releases replenishing or displacing wild stocks? in Uses and effects of cultured fishes in aquatic ecosystems. American Fisheries Society Symposium 15:376-387.

Leber, K. M. 1995. Significance of fish size-at-release on enhancement of striped mullet fisheries in Hawaii. Journal World Aquaculture Society 26(2):143-153.

Marine Aquaculture:

Ma, Qian, Seifu Seyoum, Michael D. Tringali, Matthew J. Resley, Nicole R. Rhody, Kevan L. Main and Kenneth M. Leber. 2017. Evaluating spawning performance among captive Florida pompano Trachinotus carolinus broodstock using microsatellite-based parentage assignment. Aquac Res.2017;00:1–12.

Moss, S. M., G. D. Pruder, K. M. Leber and J. A. Wyban. 1992. Shrimp microcosm results: the relative enhancement of Penaeus vannamei growth by selected fractions of shrimp pond water. Aquaculture 101: 229-239

Freeman, D. W., E. O. Duerr, and K. M. Leber. 1992. Use of bagasse as a feed input to semi-intensive shrimp growout ponds. Journal World Aquaculture Society 23: 23-30.

Wyban, J. A., G. D. Pruder, K. M. Leber and L. Burzell. 1989. Paddlewheel effects on shrimp growth, production and crop value in commercial earthen ponds. Journal World Aquaculture Society 20(1): 18-23.

Leber, K. M. and G. D. Pruder. 1988. Using experimental microcosms in shrimp research: the growth-enhancing effect of shrimp pond water. Journal World Aquaculture Society 19(4): 197-203.

Marine Ecology:

Leber, K. M. and H. S. Greening. 1986. Community studies in seagrass meadows: a comparison of two methods for sampling microinvertebrates and fishes. Fishery Bulletin 84(2): 443-450.

Leber, K. M. 1985. Influence of decapod foraging and microhabitat complexity on seagrass communities: a field test of the refuge hypothesis. Ecology 66(6): 1951-1964.

Leber, K. M. 1982. Seasonality of macroinvertebrates on a temperate, high wave energy sandy beach. Bulletin of Marine Science 32: 86-98.

Leber, K. M. 1982. Bivalves (Tellinacea: Donacidea) on a North Carolina Beach: Contrasting population size structures and tidal migrations. Marine Ecology Progress Series 7: 297-301.

Leber, K. M. 1981. Spatial patterns of Ocypode quadrata: A re-evaluation. (Decapods, Brachyura). Crustaceana 41: 110-112.


Cantillo A. Y., E. Collins, K. M. Leber and S. Stover, Eds. 2004. Charles M. Breder, Jr.: Atlantis, 1934. NOAA/Mote Marine Laboratory/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Publication. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS CCMA 169. 49 pp.

Awards & Honors

2008: Co-Chair, Fish Resources Committee, Cuba-Mexico-US Collaboration on Marine Science and Conservation.
2004: Courtesy Professor (Adjunct), Fisheries & Aquatic Science Program, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
1997: International Scientific Committee, 1st, 2nd (Chairman), 3rd, 4th International Symposium on Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching, Bergen, Norway (1997); Kobe, Japan (2002); Seattle, USA (2006); Shanghai, China (2011),
1996: Charles M. Breder Chair to Support the Study of the Biology, Behavior and Conservation of Fishes, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida.
1996: Steering Committee, William R and Lenore Mote International Symposia in Fisheries Ecology, Florida State University & Mote Marine Laboratory,
1996: Scientific Advisor, Stock Enhancement Program, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, St. Petersburg, Florida.
1995-2000: Chairman, World Aquaculture Society International Working Group on Stock Enhancement.
1995-1996: President, American Fisheries Society, Hawaii Chapter.
1992-1993: Secretary-Treasurer, American Fisheries Society, Hawaii Chapter.
1977: Sigma Xi Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Soc., East Carolina University Chapter.