Statewide Fisheries Research

Fisheries Research Staff - Jean K. Leitner

Jean K. Leitner

Contact Information

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Fisheries Research
1921 VanBoklen Road
Eastover, SC 29044

Phone: 803-353-8232
Fax: 803-353-8552
Email: leitnerj@dnr.sc.gov

Personal Interest

Jean is married to Kirby Leitner. They live in Columbia, South Carolina with their daughter Leslie and numerous pets. Kirby recently opened and runs their family business, Mill Creek Pet Food Center. When away from work Jean enjoys being with family and friends, training and trail riding with her horse, practicing Tai Chi, watching Leslie grow, and teaching her about the natural world. 

Professional Experience and Interests 

Jean came to work for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources after receiving her 1989 BS in Aquaculture Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Her work experience includes aiding small pond owners in the management of their impoundments, extensive genetic survey work of freshwater fish populations, practices to ensure genetic diversity in hatchery populations, application and detection of fluorescent marks, and age estimation. Other professional interest include the effects of introduced species on native fish communities, monitoring and minimizing the effects of stocked fish on wild populations, and hybridization in the wild as a result of introductions or environmental stress. 

Current Research 

Genetic survey of freshwater fishes: 

Channel catfish were collected from three drainages and genetic lab work is underway. Information collected here will help us to understand where our channel catfish originated from, and how closely related our populations are to each other and others in the Southeast. A minor point for South Carolina is also whether escapement of domestic channel catfish is affecting populations in the wild. This can be a major source of concern for other Southeastern states that support a large catfish culture industry.

Black crappie were collected from 3 populations to examine their relationships to each other and to others in the Southeast. Black and white crappie were collected from a fourth population where the two species occur together. An intensive look at these fish both physically and genetically will provide us with information on the extent of hybridization between the two species and the effect on the crappie population. 

Performance of largemouth bass genetic strains:

In a recently completed reciprocal transplant study we compared growth of two strains of largemouth bass in each region. Study ponds (N=36) located in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions of South Carolina were stocked with either coastal or Piedmont strain largemouth bass fingerlings, and growth was compared at 1 and 3 years of age. Results showed that fish in the Coastal Plain grew faster than fish in the Piedmont, but did not show a difference between coastal and Piedmont genetic strains. These results are currently in review for publication, and are available in our 2000-2001 annual progress report. 

We felt that environmental variability among our study sites could have masked growth differences between the two strains. A second study was conducted where the two strains were stocked in the same Coastal Plain reservoir and compared at age-1, 3 and 4. These results are interesting, showing that Piedmont strain bass grew faster to age-1. By age-3 growth was equal for the two strains but the coastal strain fish weighed more, and at age-4 the coastal strain fish had surpassed the Piedmont strain with respect to growth, length and weight. These results are available in our 2000-2001 annual progress report. 

In response to genetic surveys, and in part these results, South Carolina has adopted a regionalized stocking strategy when augmenting wild fish populations. In effect, fish stocked in the coastal region are produced from coastal strain parents. Those stocked in the Piedmont are produced from Piedmont strain parents. 

Professional Activities

American Fisheries Society
Member 1992 - present 

South Carolina Chapter of the American Fisheries Society 
Member 1993 - present 

South Carolina Fisheries Workers Association
Member 1991 – present
Secretary/Treasurer 1995 – 1997 

Peer Reviewed Publications

Leitner, Jean K. and J. Jeffery Isely. 1994. A liver and muscle biopsy technique for electrophoretic evaluation of largemouth bass. The Progressive Fish Culturist 56:288-290.

Bulak, J., J. Leitner, T. Hilbish, R. Dunham. 1995. Distribution of largemouth bass genotypes in South Carolina: Initial implications. American Fisheries Society Symposium 15:226-235, 1995.

Manuscripts in Review

Leitner, J., J. Bulak, R. Dunham. A comparison of first and third year growth of two strains of largemouth bass in South Carolina. Black Bass 2000 Symposium of the American Fisheries Society

National Meetings and Symposium

Leitner, J., and J.S. Bulak. 2000. A reciprocal transplant study for the comparison of two genetic strains of largemouth bass in South Carolina. Annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Black Bass Symposium, St. Louis, MO. 

Bulak, J.S., J. Leitner, and T. Hilbish. 1994. Distribution of largemouth bass genotypes in South Carolina: initial management implications. American Fisheries Society Symposium, "Uses and Effects of Cultured Fishes in Aquatic Ecosystems", Albuquerque, New Mexico.