Terrestrial isopods (Crustacea, Oniscidea) as model organisms for evolutionary and biogeographic studies
Presenta: Stefano Taiti
CNR ISE, sede di Firenze
Terrestrial isopods (woodlice) are the most successful crustacean colonizers of land habitats. They represent a suborder of Isopoda (Oniscidea) with over 3700 species occurring in every kind of environment, from sea coasts to high mountains, from forests to deserts. Many species inhabit caves and a few are aquatic. From an evolutionary point, woodlice are a key taxon to study the conquest of land from marine ancestors, with morphological, physiological and behavioral adaptations to terrestriality. One of these adaptations consists in the solutions to respiration on land. Dr Taiti group's research has focused in particular on the respiratory apparatus in the pleopodal lungs on many oniscidean taxa, demonstrating a convergent evolution in different families. They have also analyzed the origin of the few aquatic Oniscidea occurring in cave aquifers in Australia, southern China and Sardinia, demonstrating their secondary adaptation to this habitat. Due to the short range distributions of the large majority of the species, with many cave adapted taxa, terrestrial isopods are very important organisms for biogeographical analyses. Our studies on oniscidean biodiversity include all the tropical areas of the world and the Mediterranean.
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