Pomoxis nigromaculatus is a dioecious organism, which means that an individual organism has either male gonads or female gonads.  In addition to being dioecious, black crappies reproduce sexually.  This is an intricate process that generally occurs in May and June when the water begins to become warmer.  Waiting to spawn until late spring gives the young crappies a better chance to survive because they will learn to live and feed by the time winter arrives.
To learn more about the black crappie’s adaptations, click here.

Diagram generated by Laura Jacobson.
A young black crappie. Photo by Jim Negus.

Newly hatched black crappies, generally referred to as fry, tend to live in large populations.  They inhabit shallow water in order to avoid common large predators in deeper water such as muskellunge and northern pike.  Pomoxis nigromaculatus usually grow to be about 12-14 inches long by the time they are three years old, and most only live for five years.

Although Pomoxis nigromaculatus usually breeds within its 
species, new studies show that interbreeding with Pomoxis 
annularis (white crappies) is becoming more prevalent.  
Reasons for this are unknown, but the hybrid individuals 
are generally viable and fertile because the black crappie 
and the white crappie are so closely related.  If this  
interbreeding continues, the formation of a new species 
may be possible.  Interactions with members of its own
genus as well as organisms of other genera define the black
crappie’s role in its ecological niche.
                                                                                                     A white crappie (top), hybrid crappie (middle),
                                                                                                                                                                        and a black crappie. Photo by Jim Negus. 


To learn more about the black crappie’s interactions with other species, click here.
To return to multipleorganisms.net and learn about other organisms native to the La Crosse area, click here.