Iowa Fish Atlas

Longnose gar-Lepisosteus osseus

Native: Yes

State Rank: S3

ITIS Code: 161094          

National Rank:  N5

Global Rank: G5

Modeled By: Anna Loan-Wilsey

State Range:

The longnose gar is common in the Great Border rivers but more rare in the larger tributaries of these rivers.  It is also found occasionally in some of the natural and oxbow lakes in the Central Plains Aquatic Subregion (Harlan et al. 1987). 

Habitat Affinities:

The longnose gar prefers the clearest waters of creeks, low or basic gradient streams, oxbows and especially large rivers and impoundments where it typically inhabits sluggish pools and backwaters (Clay 1975; Douglas 1974; Etnier and Starnes 1993; Pflieger 1997; Robison and Buchanan 1988; Trautman 1981). It also inhabits the overflow ponds, river bayous and swamps of lowland areas (Etnier and Starnes 1993; Robison and Buchanan 1988), and shallow lakes and the tributaries of large rivers in the north (Eddy and Underhill 1974; Phillips et. al. 1982). The longnose gar adults thrive in the large, deep pools of artificial impoundments and young prefer shallow backwaters, usually containing dense aquatic vegetation (Pflieger 1997; Smith 1979; Tomelleri and Eberle 1990).  It prefers open water, spending much of its time at or around the surface (Becker 1983).   The longnose gar migrates upstream to spawn in smaller streams with higher gradient and gravelly, weedy substrates (Etnier and Starnes 1993; Harlan et al. 1987; Pflieger 1997; Robison and Buchanan 1988). 

Predictive Model(s):

Statewide Model: by 8-digit HU [Decision Tree Analysis n=29]

The distribution is based upon existing collection records.

("TEMP_CODE" = 2 AND

((( "STRAHLER" > 1 AND "STRAHLER" <= 2) AND "MAXELEVR" <= 1) OR

 (("STRAHLER" > 3 AND "STRAHLER" <= 4) AND "DLINKR" <= 7 AND

"SOIL_TEXT" > 8) OR

 (("STRAHLER" > 3 AND "STRAHLER" <= 4) AND "DLINKR" > 7) OR

 (("STRAHLER" > 4 AND "STRAHLER" <= 5) AND "SDISCR_11C" <= 0 AND

"SSIZE_CODE" > 3) OR

( ("STRAHLER" > 4 AND "STRAHLER" <= 5) AND ("SDISCR_11C" > 0 AND

"SDISCR_11C" <= 8) ) OR

( "STRAHLER" > 5 AND "STRAHLER" <= 6)))

Mississippi River Model:

The distribution is based upon existing collection records and professional review.

("pool" >= 'S08' AND "pool" <= 'S20')

Missouri River Model

The distribution is based upon existing collection records and professional review.

("pool" >= 'O17' AND "pool" <= 'O19')

Overall Prediction:

("TEMP_CODE" = 2 AND

((( "STRAHLER" > 1 AND "STRAHLER" <= 2) AND "MAXELEVR" <= 1) OR

 (("STRAHLER" > 3 AND "STRAHLER" <= 4) AND "DLINKR" <= 7 AND "SOIL_TEXT" > 8) OR

 (("STRAHLER" > 3 AND "STRAHLER" <= 4) AND "DLINKR" > 7) OR

 (("STRAHLER" > 4 AND "STRAHLER" <= 5) AND "SDISCR_11C" <= 0 AND "SSIZE_CODE" > 3) OR

( ("STRAHLER" > 4 AND "STRAHLER" <= 5) AND ("SDISCR_11C" > 0 AND "SDISCR_11C" <= 8) ) OR

( "STRAHLER" > 5 AND "STRAHLER" <= 6))) OR ("pool" >= 'S08' AND "pool" <= 'S20') OR ("pool" >= 'O17' AND "pool" <= 'O19')

Literature Cited:

Becker, G.C.  1983.  Fishes of Wisconsin.  University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1052 pp.

Clay, W.M.  1975.  The fishes of Kentucky.  Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Frankfort, Kentucky.  416 pp.

Douglas, N.H.  1974.  Freshwater fishes of Louisiana.  Claitor’s Publishing Division, Sponsored by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  443 pp.

Eddy, S., and J.C. Underhill.  1974.  Northern fishes; with special reference to the upper Mississippi Valley.  University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  414 pp.

Etnier, D.A., and W.E. Starnes.  1993.  The fishes of Tennessee.  University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, Tennessee.  681 pp.

Harlan, J.R., E.B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew.  1987.  Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa. 323pp.

Pflieger, W.L.  1997.  The fishes of Missouri.  Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, Missouri.  372 pp.

Phillips, G.L., W.D. Schmid, and J.C. Underhill.  1982.  Fishes of the Minnesota region.  University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  248 pp.

Robison, H.W., and T.M. Buchanan. 1988.  Fishes of Arkansas.  University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Arkansas.  536 pp.

Smith, P.W.  1979.  The fishes of Illinois.  University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois.  314 pp.

Tomelleri, J.R., and M.E. Eberle.  1990.  Fishes of the Central United States.  University  Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.  226 pp.

Trautman, M.B.  1981.  The fishes of Ohio.  Revised Edition.  Ohio State University Press in collaboration with the Ohio Sea Grant Program Center for Lake Erie Area Research,  Columbus, Ohio.  782 pp.

Data Sources:

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1986.  Aquatic biota associated with channel stabilization structures and abandoned channels in the middle Missouri River. Final Report.  Environmental and water quality operational studies.  Technical Report E-86-6.  Department of the Army, US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

Barnickol, P.G., and W.C. Starrett.  1951.  Commercial and sport fishes of the

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Wisconsin-Illinois-Iowa sections of the Mississippi River- 1956.  Job Description Investigations Projects.  Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa.

Cleary, R.E.  1958.  Summary of 1958 electro-fishing surveys in pools 9 through 19-

Mississippi River.  Project F-53-R.   Job Description Investigations Projects.  Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa.

Cleary, R.E., and  J. Hlavacek.  1957.  Summary of 1957 UMRCC exploratory fishing in

pools 8 to13.  Job Description Investigations Projects.  Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa.

Coker, R.E.  1929.  Keokuk dam and the fisheries of the upper Mississippi River. 

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Management District, Fisheries Bureau, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Decorah, Iowa.

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report.  Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Des Moines, Iowa.

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Management District, Fisheries Bureau, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Brighton, Iowa.  

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Southeast Management District, Fisheries Bureau, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Brighton, Iowa.     

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Southeast Management District, Fisheries Bureau, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Solon, Iowa.

LGL Ecological Research Associates.  1981.  Study of fish in the main channel of the

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collections mad during 1889, 1890, 1891.  Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission 10(1890):217-248.

Menzel, B.W.  1983.  Field notes: northeast.  Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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Molamphy, T.J.  1961.  Summary of 1961 electro-fishing surveys of Iowa waters of

Mississippi River.  Job Description Investigations Projects.  Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa.

Molamphy, T.J., and R.E. Cleary.  1960.  Administrative summary electro-fishing survey

of Iowa waters of Mississippi River - 1960.  Job Description Investigations Projects.  Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa.

Mount Mercy College Museum.  2002.  Vertebrate collection database report.  Mount

Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Museum of Zoology.  2002.  Division of Fishes collection database.  University of

Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. http://www.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/. (May, 2002)

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Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Rock Island, Illinois.

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Southeast Management District, Fisheries Bureau, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Moravia, Iowa.

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Quarterly Biology Reports 11(3):32-33.

Smith, P.W,. and A.C. Lopinot.  1966.  The 1966 survey of fishes from the mouths of

Mississippi River tributaries, Appendix B, pp.226-233, Illinois State Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois.

Sullivan, D.J.  2000.  Fish communities and their relation to environmental factors in the

Eastern Iowa Basins in Iowa and Minnesota, 1996.  Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4194.  U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa City, Iowa.

UMRCC.  1953.  Revised species list- northern section of the river.  Pages 19-32 in

Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Meeting, Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Rock Island, Illinois.

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Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Rock Island, Illinois.

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the Mississippi River near Keokuk, Iowa.  Ph.D. dissertation.  Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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Additional References:

Cross, F.B.  1967.  Handbook of fishes of Kansas.  University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication  No. 45, Lawrence, Kansas.  357 pp.

Cross, F.B., and J.T. Collins.  1995.  Fishes in Kansas.  University of Kansas Natural History Museum, Public Education Series No. 14, Lawrence, Kansas.   315 pp.

Echelle, A.A., and C.D. Riggs.  1972.  Aspects of the early life history of gars (Lepisosteus) in Lake Texoma. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 101(1):106-112.

Gelwicks, G.T.  1995.  Fish movement between the lower Missouri River and a managed floodplain wetland in Missouri.  Master’s thesis. University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. 190 pp.

Goff, G.P. 1984.  Brood care of longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) by smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui). Copeia 1984:149-152.

Haase, B.L.  1969.  An ecological life history of the long- nose gar, Lepisosteus osseus (Linnaeus), in Lake Mendota and in several other lakes of southern Wisconsin.  Ph.D. dissertation.  University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.  224 pp.

Holland-Bartels, L.E., S.K. Littlejohn, and M.L. Huston.  1990.  A guide to larval fishes of the upper Mississippi River.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fisheries Research Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin. 107 pp.

Holloway, A.D.  1954.  Notes on the life history and management of the shortnose and longnose gars in Florida waters.  Journal of Wildlife Management 18(4):438-449.

Kallemeyn, L.W., and  J. F. Novotny.  1977.  Fish and fish food organisms in various habitats of the Missouri River in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Publication FWS/OBS 77/25, Washington, D.C.  100 pp.

Kelly, G., editor.  1986.  Animal habitat relations handbook.  Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Jefferson City, Missouri.  293 pp.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr.  1980.  Atlas of North American freshwater fishes.  North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina.  867 pp.

Netsch, N.E., and A.Witt, Jr.  1962.  Contributions to the life history of the longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) in Missouri.  Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 91(3):251-262.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr.  1991.  A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico.  Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

Pflieger, W.L.  1971.  A distributional study of Missouri fishes.  University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History  20(3):225-570.

Pflieger, W.L.  1989a.  Aquatic community classification system for Missouri.  Missouri Department of Conservation.  Jefferson City, Missouri.  Aquatic Series No. 19. 70 pp. plus Supplement.

Pflieger, W.L.  1989b.  The stream resources of Missouri.  D-J Project - F-1-R-28.  Study S-20.  Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, Missouri.  

Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott.  1991.  Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada.  American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20, Bethesda, Maryland. 183 pp.

Scott, W.B., and E. J. Crossman.  1973.  Freshwater fishes of Canada.  Fisheries Research Board of Canada Bulletin No. 184, Ottawa, Canada.  966 pp.

Sheehan, R.J., W.M. Lewis, and  L.R. Bodensteiner.  1990.  Winter habitat requirements and overwintering of riverine fishes.  Southern Illinois Fisheries Research Laboratory, Carbondale, Illinois.  D-J Project F-79-R, Study 101.  234 pp.

Sublette, J.E., M.D Hatch, and M. Sublette.  1990.  The fishes of New Mexico.  University New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  393 pp.

Thom, R.H., and J.H. Wilson.  1980.  The natural divisions of Missouri.  Transactions of the Missouri Academy of Science  14:9-24.

Trembley, F.J.  1930.  The gar-pike of Lake Champlain. Pages 139-145 in: A Biological Survey of the Champlain watershed. Suppl. Nineteenth Annual Report New York State Conservation Department (1929).

Wiley, E.O.  1976.  The phylogeny and biogeography of fossil and recent gars (Actinopterygii: Lepisosteidae). Museum of Natural History University of Kansas Miscellaneous Publications 64:1-111.

Photo Credits:

Upper Left:       Photo courtesy of the Virtual Aquarium, The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, http://www.cnr.vt.edu/efish/index.html.

Upper Right:     Photo courtesy of Garold W. Sneegas, copyright Garold W. Sneegas, Aquatic Kansas Images, http://www.nanfa.org/akiweb/AKI.htm.