Habitat and Behaviour
In Christchurch, New Zealand, these woodlice are found in cool, humid damp conditions. They are most easily found in spring and autumn. The most common site around the home is on compost heaps or under shelter such as bark and boards left in shaded, moist conditions. They may also be found in deep, damp soil litter under the shelter of bushes or trees.
High summer temperatures (up to 32 degrees C) cause the woodlice to retreat deeper into
shelter making them more difficult to locate. The cooler winter temperatures (down to -5
degrees C) also cause them to retreat further into shelter.
Many of the behavioural responses of woodlice are concerned with water conservation and the need to avoid desiccation. Most woodlice are terrestrial (most other crustacea are aquatic), however they lack some of the structures found in other terrestrial arthropods such as insects and spiders.
Woodlice have a relatively high surface area to volume ratio and are therefore likely to loose water by diffusion more quickly than many other species. They also lack a waxy, waterproof cuticle and so water will readily diffuse through their exoskeleton more rapidly than in other arthropods.ęG.Mckenzie www/geocities.com/~gregmck
To replace water lost by transpirational losses, woodlice are able to take up water through their uropods. These structures are pressed against moist surfaces, capillary action results in water absorption.
The behaviour of the woodlice helps it to prevent excessive water loss and so it is able to successfully live in a range of terrestrial habitats.
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