Faxonius, named for Walter Faxon (1848-1920), American ornithologist and carcinologist. Former genus, Orconectes, is from Orcus, god of the underworld in Roman mythology + nectes: swimming (Greek); limosus: Latin for mud
There are plenty of things that are unique and amazing about the spiny-cheek crayfish, but all pale in comparison to their ability to reproduce parthenogenetically (source). Parthenogenesis – reproduction without fertilization – is exceptionally rare in vertebrates, and only somewhat common in invertebrates. This, however, was the first report of parthenogensis in crustaceans. For most invertebrates (nematodes, bees), parthenogenesis is obligatory, that is, they can only reproduce in this way. For others (e.g. parasitic wasps, aphids), it’s facultative, with parthenogensis occuring seasonally. Spiny-cheek crayfish are flexible and can reproduce both sexually and asexually, though it’s unclear what the underlying mechanism is that would allow a female to forgo mating.
As its species name, limosus, indicates, they’re one of the few crayfish in New England that can tolerate muddy, turbid water. They’re most frequently found in the mucky bottoms of slow moving rivers, mucky ponds, and shorelines of larger lakes where they’ll eat detritus, plant matter, and invertebrates (in that order of preference: source). As with other crayfish, however, they are not specialists and can be found in other habitats.
They burrow extensively in the soft sediment bottoms of their habitats. The burrows, called chimneys, provide protection from predators and a safeguard against desiccation during dry periods when water levels drop. Some sources suggest these burrows may destabilize river banks, though this seems to be more of a general statement about crayfish than specifically about spiny-cheek crayfish.