Morphological traits - desiccation resistance - habitat characteristics: a possible key for distribution in woodlice (Isopoda, Oniscidea).

Research paper by Diána D Sonka, Katalin K Halasy, Krisztina K Buczkó, Elisabeth E Hornung

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: ZooKeys


Terrestrial isopods, as successful colonizers of land habitats, show a great variety in species distribution patterns on a global, continental, or regional scale. On a local, within-habitat level these patterns reflect the species' tolerance limits and the presence of suitable hiding places (shelter sites, refugia). Humidity preference reflects a species' capability for water retention which, in turn, depends on the integumental barrier. Desiccation resistance is a key feature in isopod survival under different environmental conditions. The present study shows a correlation between cuticle thickness and desiccation resistance under three relative humidity (RH) ranges (about 30, 75 and 100% RH) in nine species, relating these to the species' differences in meso- and microhabitat choices. Habitat preferences are also associated with differences in cuticle surface morphology. The results support our hypothesis that species distribution and desiccation resistance are associated with particular cuticular morphological traits. Phylogenetic relations seem to be less important in desiccation resistance than cuticle thickness and external morphology.