Taxonomy

Common Name: GAR, ALLIGATOR
Phylum: CHORDATA
Class: OSTEICHTHYES
Order: SEMIONOTIFORMES
Family: LEPISOSTEIDAE
Genus: ATRACTOSTEUS
Species: SPATULA

Taxonomic Authority: LACEPEDE

Taxonomy References: 002

Status

GAME
STATE RANK S1
GLOBAL RANK G3G4

Status References: 003, 007, 016

Habitat Summary

Inhabits sluggish pools and overflow waters of large rivers. In Missouri only found in Mississippi river.

Primary Habitat: Aquatic - river/stream

References: 001

Distribution

General Occurrence in State:

Occurs in Mississippi R., below the mouth of the Missouri river *001*.

County Occurrence
Known Likely Unknown Not Likely Historic Extirpated
MISSISSIPPI STE. GENEVIEVECARROLL  
PEMISCOT NEW MADRIDDEKALB  
DUNKLIN ST. CHARLESFRANKLIN  
PERRY STODDARDGRUNDY  
BUTLER JEFFERSONLAFAYETTE  
  SCOTTLEWIS  
  CAPE GIRARDEAUMONITEAU  
  ST. LOUISPHELPS  
   PLATTE  
   REYNOLDS  
   SCHUYLER  
   STONE  
   WARREN  
   WORTH  
   CLARK  
   CLAY  
   JOHNSON  
   LINCOLN  
   MCDONALD  
   MORGAN  
   OREGON  
   ADAIR  
   ANDREW  
   BUCHANAN  
   GREENE  
   LACLEDE  
   LAWRENCE  
   LINN  
   MILLER  
   OZARK  
   RIPLEY  
   ST. FRANCOIS  
   SULLIVAN  
   TEXAS  
   WASHINGTON  
   ATCHISON  
   BOLLINGER  
   COLE  
   DADE  
   IRON  
   MADISON  
   MONROE  
   MONTGOMERY  
   PETTIS  
   SHANNON  
   SHELBY  
   ST. CLAIR  
   AUDRAIN  
   BENTON  
   BOONE  
   CRAWFORD  
   DAVIESS  
   HOLT  
   KNOX  
   MARION  
   POLK  
   RANDOLPH  
   RAY  
   SALINE  
   TANEY  
   WAYNE  
   WEBSTER  
   BARRY  
   CALLAWAY  
   CAMDEN  
   CHARITON  
   CHRISTIAN  
   COOPER  
   GENTRY  
   HARRISON  
   HENRY  
   HOWARD  
   HOWELL  
   JASPER  
   MARIES  
   MERCER  
   OSAGE  
   PULASKI  
   PUTNAM  
   SCOTLAND  
   CASS  
   CEDAR  
   CLINTON  
   DENT  
   GASCONADE  
   HICKORY  
   LIVINGSTON  
   MACON  
   NEWTON  
   NODAWAY  
   PIKE  
   RALLS  
   BARTON  
   BATES  
   CALDWELL  
   CARTER  
   DALLAS  
   DOUGLAS  
   JACKSON  
   VERNON  
   WRIGHT  

References for distribution: 001, 006, 012, 013

Distribution by Watersheds

Miss. R. from St. Louis to River Aux Vases
Miss. R. from River Aux Vases to Ohio R.
Miss R. from Ohio R. to Arkansas Border
Little R.
Current R.

Comments:

Distribution by Ecoregions

Central Till Plains
Mississippi River Alluvial Plains
Ozark Highlands

Distribution by Potential Natural Vegetation

Oak-Hickory Forest
Southern Floodplain Forest

Distribution by Natural Divisions of Missouri

Glaciated Plains: Eastern
Glaciated Plains: Lincoln Hills
Big Rivers: Lower Missouri
Big Rivers: Upper Mississippi
Big Rivers: Lower Mississippi
Ozark Border: Missouri River
Ozark: Lower Ozark
Mississippi Lowlands: Lowlands

Habitat Associations

Species is associated with Aquatic habitats

National Wetlands Inventory Association:

Riverine

Aquatic Associations:

Riverine, lower perennial

References for Aquatic Associations:

001

Habitat Types:

Permanent Stream

References for Habitat Types: 001, 004

Terrestrial Natural Communities:

References for Terrestrial Natural Communities:

Food Habits

Trophic Level:

Carnivore

Larval Food Habits

References for larval food habits:

Juvenile Food Habits

Insects Insects; Not Specified
Osteichthyes (bony fishes); Juvenile stage
Osteichthyes (bony fishes); Adult Stage
Atheriniformes (killifishes, livebearers, silversides); Not Specified

Comments for juvenile food habits:
In OK, young-of-year ate mosquitofish and insects. Young showed progressive increase of fish in diet with increase in size. Nearly all fish eaten were young-of-year *010*.

References for juvenile food habits:
010

Adult Food Habits

Osteichthyes (bony fishes); Not Specified
Semionotiformes (gars); Not Specified
Clupeiformes (herrings); Not Specified
Cypriniformes (minnows, carps, suckers); Not Specified
Siluriformes (catfishes); Not Specified
Perciformes (bass, sunfishes, perches, drums, sculpins); Not Specified
Birds; Not Specified
Anhingidae (darters); Not Specified
Anseriformes (swans, geese, and ducks); Not Specified
Rallidae (rails, gallinules, and coots); Not Specified

Comments for adult food habits:
In TX study, gizzard shad, channel catfish and drum made up greater than 50% of food taken *014*

References for adult food habits: 001, 008, 014

Niche Requirements

Feeding Juvenile Niche Requirements

Dissolved oxygen specified in comments(00020)
Turbidity specified in comments(00040)
Salinity specified in comments(00190)
Water depth: shallow
Inland wetlands: permanent stream
General habitat association specified in comments(00270)
Natural features: pools

References for feeding juvenile niche requirements: 001, 009, 012

Resting Juvenile Niche Requirements

Dissolved oxygen specified in comments(00020)
Turbidity specified in comments(00040)
Salinity specified in comments(00190)
General habitat association specified in comments(00270)

References for resting juvenile niche requirements: 001, 009, 012

Breeding Adult Niche Requirements

Dissolved oxygen specified in comments(00020)
Salinity specified in comments(00190)
Inland wetlands: permanent stream
Stream order: fifth order stream
Stream order: ninth order or greater stream
General habitat association specified in comments(00270)
Natural features: pools

References for breeding adult niche requirements: 001, 012

Feeding Adult Niche Requirements

Dissolved oxygen specified in comments(00020)
Big river habitat: backwaters
Salinity specified in comments(00190)
Inland wetlands: permanent stream
Stream order: fifth order stream
Stream order: ninth order or greater stream
General habitat association specified in comments(00270)
Natural features: pools

References for feeding adult niche requirements: 001, 012

Resting Adult Niche Requirements

Dissolved oxygen specified in comments(00020)
Salinity specified in comments(00190)
General habitat association specified in comments(00270)

References for resting adult niche requirements: 001, 012

Niche Requirement Summary

Turbidity specified in comments(00040)
Inland wetlands: permanent stream
Dissolved oxygen specified in comments(00020)
Stream order: fifth order stream
Stream order: ninth order or greater stream
Salinity specified in comments(00190)
General habitat association specified in comments(00270)
Water depth: shallow
Big river habitat: backwaters
Natural features: pools

Comments for all niche requirement fields:
Code Comment
00020:Can live in water with very low dissolved oxygen *01*.
00040:Young-of-year taken from shallow, turbid water in Lake Texoma, OK *09*.
00190:Tolerate slightly higher salinities than other gars *01*.
00270:Inhabits sluggish pools and overflow waters of large rivers *01*.

Life History Information

Length-weight relationships specified in comments(039)
Other life history information specified in comments(099)
Origin in state: native
Seasonal distribution in state: all seasons
Foraging strategy: stalking
Foraging sites: water
Breeding season specified in comments(007)
Spawning site specified in comments(012)

Comments about Life History:
Code Comment
007:In Lake Texoma, OK, spawning is thought to occur during first half of May (young-of-the-year 103-117 mm long were collected in July) *009*. In LA, spawn April-June *011*
012:Spawning site information unavailable
039:Largest specimen reported from Missouri in recent years was 6'8" long and weighed 130 pounds *009*
099:Swim bladder has function similar to lungs *001*. Gars can live in water very low in oxygen, periodically rise to surface to breath air *001*

References for life history: 001, 009, 011

Management

Beneficial Management Practices:
Regulate harvest of species being described

Beneficial Management References: 006

Adverse Management Practices:

Adverse Management References:

Comments on Management:

References for Management Comments:

References

Reference Code Citation
(001)Pflieger, W.L. 1997. The Fishes Of Missouri, Revised Edition. Mo Dept. Of Conservation. Jefferson City, Mo. 372 Pp.
(002)Nelson, Joseph S., Edwin J. Crossman, Héctor Espinosa-Pérez, Lloyd T. Findley, Carter R. Gilbert, Robert N. Lea, and James D. Williams. 2004. Common And Scientific Names Of Fishes From The United States, Canada and Mexico (6th Ed.). Amer. Fish Soc. Spec. Publ. No. 29. 386 pp.
(003)The Wildlife Code of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102. 573-751-4115.
(004)Kelly, G. (Ed.) 1986. Animal Habitat Relations Handbook. Mo Dept. Of Conservation and U.S.D.A. Forest Service. Jefferson City, Mo. 293 Pp.
(005)Thom, R.H. and J.H. Wilson. 1980 The Natural Divisions Of Missouri. Trans. Mo Acad. Sci. 14:9-24.
(006)Unpb Pflieger, W.L. Mo Dept. Of Conservation, 1110 S. College Ave., Columbia, Mo 65201. (573-882-9880).
(007)The Checklist Of Rare And Endangered Species Of Missouri. 1991. Mo Dept. Of Conservation. Jefferson City, Mo. 44 Pp.
(008)Raney, E.C. 1942. Alligator Gar Feeds On Birds In Texas. Copeia 1942(1):50.
(009)May, E.B. and A.A. Echelle. 1968. Young-Of-The-Year Alligator Gar In Lake Texoma, Oklahoma. Copeia 1968(3):629-630.
(010)Echelle, A.A. and C.D. Riggs. 1972. Aspects Of The Early Life History Of Gars (Lepisosteus) In Lake Texoma. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 101(1 106-112.
(011)Smith, P.W. 1979. The Fishes Of Illinois. Univ. Ill. Press. Urbana, Chicago, and London. 314 Pp.
(012)Unpb Pflieger, W.L. The Stream Resources Of Missouri. D-J Project F-1-R-28. Study S-20. Mo Dept. Of Conserv., 1110 S. College Ave., Columbia, Mo 65201. (573-882-9880).
(013)Unpb Missouri Department of Conservation Heritage Database. P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Mo 65102.
(014)Seidensticker, E.P. 1987. Food Selection Of Alligator Gar And Longnose Gar In A Texas Reservoir. Proc. Ann. Conf. S.E. Assoc. Fish Wildl. Agencies 41:100-104.
(015)Pflieger, W.L. 1989. Aquatic Community Classification System For Missouri. Mo Dept. Of Conservation. Aquatic Series No. 19. 70 Pp + Supplement.
(016)Missouri Natural Heritage Program. 2001. Missouri Species Of Conservation Concern. Mo Dept. Of Conservation, Jefferson City, Mo. Xi + 28 Pp.
(017)Missouri Natural Heritage Program. 2013. Missouri Species and Communities of Conservation Concern Checklist. Missouri Department of Conservation. Jefferson City, MO. pp. 52.