– Isopoda (Oniscidea) –

Contact person:     Andreas Allspach

Institution:             Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut & Naturmuseum Frankfurt/M

E–Mail:                   andreas.allspach(at)senckenberg.de

Internet:                 Senckenberg Biodiversitätsinformatik


Woodlice or Oniscidea belong to one of the crustacean groups most successfully adapted to terrestrial life. They occur from littoral regions up to high mountainous areas, where the vegetation zone is still present.

In Germany more than 50 species occur, worldwide more than 3600 species are known. A biodiversity hotspot of the group is located in southeastern Europe, where the most diverse terrestrial isopod fauna can be found.

Woodlice occur in the upper layers of humid soil, some smaller specimens also live in deeper layers with a loose soil structure.

By feeding on fungi and other rotting vegetation material, terrestrial isopods are highly responsible for the decomposition of organic material such as leaf litter in nature.

The biology of most species is only poorly known, only the cosmopolitan species Porcellio scaber (common rough woodlouse) and Armadillidium vulgare (common pill woodlouse or pillbug) have been more intensely studied.