Rusty Crayfish, Faxonius rusticus
OTHER COMMON NAMES
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); rusticus: of the countryside (Latin)
Ecology, Habitat, & Behavior
One reason that rusty crayfish are so prone to becoming invasive is that they are extreme generalists. They can live in a wide variety of aquatic environments from slow flowing silty bottomed rivers to faster flowing streams lined with rocks and woody debris to densely vegetated shorelines. And everything is on the menu, with juveniles and adults eating debris, plant material, and animals. Compared to other crayfish, rusty crayfish have a high metabolism and burn through food much faster, so they have a disproportionately large impact on food webs. While other species, like virile crayfish, also feed on macrophytes, rusty crayfish will destroy entire vegetative beds, eliminating habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates, ultimately negatively impacting species richness (source). Because of their threat as an invasive, this is one of the more well-studied species of crayfish in our waters.