IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Overview

          The longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) is a member of the family Lepisosteidae, a group of freshwater fishes collectively known as garfish that are most closely related to bowfins in the infraclass Holostei. Within the genus Lepisosteus, which contains four species, the longnose and shortnose (Lepisosteus platostomus) gars are more closely related to each other and are sister taxa to the Spotted (Lepisosteus oculatus) and Florida (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) Gars. The longnose gar is primarily a freshwater fish, with some populations existing in brackish waters and very few in marine environments. Typical gar habitat consists mainly of slow moving rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water where water is shallow and vegetation is present. The longnose gar is found in North America, from southern portions of Quebec all the way down to Cuba. Total adult population size is unknown but is likely greater than 100,000. In comparison to other gar species, the longnose gar is easily distinguishable by its extremely long and narrow snout. Aside from snout length, a single row of sharp villiform or small and slender teeth in the upper jaw allows this species to be easily distinguished. The typical coloration of an adult longnose gar is olivaceous brown dorsally and laterally, which fades into a pale yellow or white ventrally. The longnose gar also has spots on its dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. Similar to other gars, longnose gar roe (external eggs) contains ichthyootoxin, but scientists are uncertain as to whether the toxin has evolved for egg defense or as a byproduct of other processes during development. Crayfish that eat longnose gar roe are negatively affected and can die, but other natural predators, like sunfish, are not affected. Gars are generally considered nuisances by fisherman because of their consumption of and competition with game species and their tendency to become entangled in nylon nets. Gars are carnivores but not necessarily strict piscivores. The diet of these nocturnal hunters consists of smaller fish such as herrings and shads but will also include insect larvae until gars have reached adult age. Gars both feed and breed in shallow waters. Female gars shed their eggs in occupied nests of smallmouth bass, allowing male smallmouth bass to provide parental care and protection that they themselves do not provide.

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© Alice Jean, Kelly Garner, Raissa Delacruz, Anna Perkins, Editors: Yoel Stuart, Robert Deans

Supplier: UTAustin_VNH2015

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