Orconectes rusticus - Rusty Crayfish


Information Last Reviewed Spring 2007


The rusty crayfish has been a reported invader since at least the 1930’s. Its further spread is of great concern since the prior areas of invasion have led to severe impacts on native flora and fauna.




General Biology

Life Cycle

Habitat Characteristics





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Phylum: Arthropoda

Subphylum: Crustacea

Class: Malacostraca

Order: Decapoda

Family: Cambaridae






Juvenile Morphology



Adult Orconectes rusticus (Image from: http://www.wildlife.state.nc.us/pg07_WildlifeSpeciesCon/nccrayfishes/o_rusticus/mainphoto.jpg


Adult Morphology


Distinguishing Characteristics 






General Biology











Life Cycle















Habitat Characteristics


Preferred Environment







Water Quality







Native Range


North American Distribution



Probable Means of Introduction
















Control Measures





Literature Cited


  1. Berrill, M. 1978. Distribution and ecology of crayfish in the Kawartha Lakes region of southern Ontario. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 56:166-177


  1. Berrill, M. and M. Arsenault. 1984. The breeding behavior of a northern temperate orconectid crayfish, Orconectes rusticus. Animal Behavior. 32:333-339


  1. Berrill, M., L. Hollett, A. Margosian, and J. Hudson. 1985. Variation in tolerance to low environmental pH by the crayfish Orconectes rusticus, O. propinquus, and Cambarus robustus. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 63:2586-2589


  1. Butler, M.J. and R.A. Stein. 1985. An analysis of the mechanisms governing species replacements in crayfish. Oecologia. 66:168-177


  1. Byron, C.J. and K.A. Wilson. 2001. Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) movement within and between habitats in Trout Lake, Vilas County, Wisconsin. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 20:606-614


  1. Capelli, G.M. 1982. Displacement of northern Wisconsin crayfish by Orconectes rusticus (Girard). Limnology and Oceanography. 27:741-745


  1. Hanson, J.M., P.A. Chambers, and E.E. Prepas. 1990. Selective foraging by the craysifh Orconectes virilis and its impact on macroinvertebrates. Freshwater Biology 24:69-80


  1. Hill, A.M. and D.M. Lodge. 1994. Diel changes in resource demand: Competition and predation in species replacement among crayfishes. Ecology. 75:2118-2126


  1. Horns, W.H. and J.J. Magnuson. 1981. Crayfish predation on lake trout eggs in Trout Lake, Wisconsin. Rapp. P.-v. Reun. Cons. Int. Explor. Mer. 178:299-303


  1. Lodge, D.M., A.L. Beckel, and J.J. Magnuson. 1985. Lake-bottom tyrant. Natural History. 94:32-37


  1. Lodge, D.M. and Lorman, J.G. 1987. Reductions in submersed macrophyte biomass and species richness by the crayfish Orconectes rusticus. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 44:591-597


  1. Lodge, D.M., M.W. Kershner, J.E. Aloi, and A.P. Covich. 1994. Effects of an omnivorous crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) on a freshwater littoral food web. Ecology. 75:1265-1281


  1. Lodge, D.M., C.A. Taylor, D.M. Holdich, J. Skurdal. 2000. Nonindigenous crayfishes threaten North American freshwater biodiversity: Lessons from Europe. Fisheries. 25:7-20


  1. Lorman, J.G. 1980. Ecology of the crayfish Orconectes rusticus in northern Wisconsin. PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin


  1. Momot, W.T. 1992. Further range extensions of the crayfish Orconectes rusticus in the Lake Superior Basin of Northwestern Ontario. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 106:397-399


  1. Mundahl, N.D. 1989. Seasonal and diel changes in thermal tolerance of the crayfish Orconectes rusticus, with evidence for behavioral thermoregulation. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 8:173-179


  1. Mundahl, N.D. and M.J. Benton. 1990. Aspects of the thermal ecology of the rusty crayfish Orconectes rusticus (Girard). Oecologia. 82:210-216


  1. Olsen, T.M., D.M. Lodge, G.M. Capelli, and R.J. Houlihan. 1991. Mechanisms of impact of an introduced crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) on littoral congeners, snails, and macrophytes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 48:1853-1861


  1. Pennak, R.W. 1989. Fresh-water invertebrates of the United States. Protozoa to Mollusca, 3rd ed. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York. 628p


  1. Perry, W.L., D.M. Lodge, and G.A. Lamberti. 2000. Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) impacts on Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) recruitment, other macroinvertebrates and algal biomass in a lake-outlet stream. American Midland Naturalist. 144:308-316


  1. Perry, W.L., J.L. Feder, and D.M. Lodge. 2001. Implications of hybridization between introduced and resident Orconectes crayfishes. Conservation Biology. 15:1656-1666


  1. Pfleiger, W.L. 1996. The Crayfishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation. Jefferson City, Missouri. 152p


  1. Taylor, C.A. and M. Redmer. 1996. Dispersal of the crayfish Orconectes rusticus in Illinois, with notes on species displacement and habitat preference. Journal of Crustacean Biology. 16:547-551


  1. Wetzel, J.E., W.J. Poly, and J.W. Fetzner Jr. 2004. Morphological and genetic comparisons of golden crayfish, Orconectes luteus, and rusty crayfish, O. rusticus, with range corrections in Iowa and Minnesota. Journal of Crustacean Biology. 24:603-617



Additional Literature:


Bills, T.D. and L.L. Marking. 1988. Control of nuisance populations of crayfish with traps and toxicants. The Progressive Fish-Culturist. 50:103-106


Bouchard, R.W. and H.W. Robinson. 1980. An inventory of the decapod crustaceans (crayfishes and shrimps) of Arkansas with a discussion of their habitats. Arkansas Academy of Science Proceedings 34:22-30


Capelli, G.M. and J.J. Magnuson. 1983. Morphoedaphic and biogeographic analyses of crayfish distribution in Northern Wisconsin. Journal of Crustacean Biology. 3:548-564


Capelli, G.M. and B.L. Munjal. 1982. Aggressive interactions and resource competition in relation to species displacement among crayfish of the genus Orconectes. Journal of Crustacean Biology 2:486-492


DiDonato, G.T. and D.M. Lodge. 1993. Species replacements among Orconectes crayfishes in Wisconsin lakes: The role of predation by fish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 50:1484-1488


Garvey, J.E., R.A. Stein, and H.M. Thomas. 1994. Assessing how fish predation and interspecific prey competition influence a crayfish assemblage. Journal of Ecology 75:532-547


Helgen, J.C. 1990. The distribution of crayfish in Minnesota. Section of Fisheries Investigational Report Number 405. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 106 pp


Hill, A.M. and D.M. Lodge. 1999. Replacement of resident crayfishes by an exotic crayfish: The roles of competition and predation. Ecological Applications 9:678-690


Hill, A.M., D.M. Sinars, and D.M. Lodge. 1993. Invasion of an occupied niche by the crayfish Orconectes rusticus: Potential importance of growth and mortality. Oecologia 94:303-306


Hobbs, H.H. and J.P. Jass. 1988. The crayfishes and shrimp of Wisconsin. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI. 177 pp


Lodge, D.M., T.K. Kratz, and G.M. Capelli. 1986. Long-term dynamics of three crayfish species in Trout Lake, Wisconsin. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 43:993-998


Luttenton, M.R., M.J. Horgan, and D.M. Lodge. 1998. Effects of three Orconectes crayfishes on epilithic microalgae: a laboratory experiment. Crustaceana 71:845-855


Jones, P.D. and W.T. Momot. 1983. The bioenergetics of crayfish in two pothole lakes. Freshwater Crayfish 5:193-209


Seiler, S.M. and A.M. Turner. 2004. Growth and population size of crayfish in headwater streams: Individual- and higher-level consequences of acidification. Freshwater Biology 49:870-881


Stein. R.A. 1977. Selective predation, optimal foraging and the predator-prey interaction between fish and crayfish. Journal of Ecology. 58:1237-1253


Taylor, C.A. 2000. Systematic studies of the Orconectes juvenilis comples (Decapoda: Cambaridae), with descriptions of two new species. Journal of Crustacean Biology 16: 547-551





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