Ecology: Faxonius propinquus are generalized omnivorous feeders (Van Deventer 1937; Crocker and Barr 1968). Stomach contents of most adult F. propinquus examined by Van Deventer (1932) contained filamentous algae, plant material, and seeds. Additionally, insect fragments from mayfly, stonefly (Plecoptera), cranefly (Tipulidae), midge (Chironomidae) and mosquito larvae (Culicidae) were found (Bovbjerg 1952). Faxonius propinquus will also consume small mollusks, such as Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), if they are present (MacIsaac 1994). When exposed to Zebra Mussels, MacIsaac (1994) found that F. propinquus showed a strong preference for consuming small individuals (3-5 mm), but they also preyed upon larger D. polymorpha up to 14 mm.
Faxonius propinquus have been found to occupy rivers, swiftly flowing streams, and lakes throughout its range. Though well-established populations have been observed in lakes (Bovbjerg 1952), F. propinquus show a habitat preference for clear, lotic systems with rocky substrates (Van Deventer 1937; Bovbjerg 1952). They are often collected from under large rocks and other debris in streams where they seek shelter in shallow crevices (Van Deventer 1937; Bovbjerg 1952; Taylor et al. 2015). Faxonius propinquus do not construct burrows (Van Deventer 1937; Bovbjerg 1952; Berrill and Chenoweth 1982). They are confined to permanent water bodies where they occupy benthic environments throughout the year (Van Deventer 1937; Bovbjerg 1952). In an experiment examining their tolerance to desiccation, Bovbjerg (1952) found that no F. propinquus burrowed, even in soft substrates, when water levels subsided. Their inability to burrow led to high rates of mortality due to desiccation. This suggests that F. propinquus’ absence in temporary bodies of water can be attributed to its inability to survive dry periods (Bovbjerg 1952).
Ortmann (1906) classified the genus into two groups based on their life history: the “cool water type” which breeds year-round, and a “warm water type” which has a breeding season that is restricted to the fall and spring. By Ortmann’s description, F. propinquus is considered a “cool water type” crayfish, because it has fall and spring breeding season that is followed by a period where males revert to their second form (the non-reproductive stage) (Ortmann 1906; Van Deventer 1932). The time and length of the F. propinquus mating season varies greatly with latitude. Faxonius propinquus have been observed copulating from July through November, and in the spring as late March (Ortmann 1906; Van Deventer 1937; Crocker 1957; Fielder 1972). Populations in the more northern latitudes tend to mate in the fall, while those that reside further south may mate in both the fall and early spring (Van Deventer 1937; Fielder 1972).
Females lay their eggs during the spring as temperatures increase, and in most populations, egg-bearing females can be found during the months of April and May (Van Deventer 1932; Crocker and Barr 1968; Fielder 1972). The eggs hatch between May and July, and the young remain attached to the mother’s abdomen for about two weeks (Crocker and Barr 1968). At their first appearance, the free-swimming young measure roughly 3.9-6 mm CL (~ 8-12 mm in total length) (Van Deventer 1932; Crocker and Barr 1968; Fielder 1972). Juveniles grow about 1-2 mm CL each molt, and by the end of their first summer they reach sexual maturity at approximately 16-20 mm CL (Van Deventer 1937; Crocker and Barr 1968; Fielder, 1972; Momot et al. 1978). Most individuals will mate during their first fall, producing a brood the following spring. Though many survive to produce a second brood the next year, the majority of F. propinquus who mate in their first year of life die as yearlings (Crocker and Barr 1968). Although the average life expectancy of F. propinquus is about 2 years of age (Van Deventer 1932; Crocker and Barr 1968; Corey 1988), in rare instances individuals have been found to live up to 4 years (Corey 1988).
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