Abstract : The Oniscidea, better known as woodlice, are crustaceans that left the aquatic environment to become truly terrestrial. Today, the entire group is made up of over 4000 species, living in a vast array of habitats throughout the world. The reproductive strategies of the Oniscidea were investigated here by using Armadillidium vulgare and Porcellionides pruinosus as model species, and by the gathering of information available in the literature.
It was demonstrated that individuals are able to distinguish the specific, sexual and physiological status of their counterparts. Recognition occurs upon contact via cuticular compounds. An attempt was made to characterize the chemical nature of these compounds. The encounter between sexual partners seems to primarily result from a male scramble search. In some species, male-male interactions are aggressive, leading to temporary dominance relationships. Females systematically resist male sexual attempts, which can be interpreted as a possible mechanism of female choice. The size of individuals appears to be a key parameter in the resolution of intra-sexual and inter-sexual conflicts.
We highlight some of the phenotypic peculiarities of females (the existence of a spermathecae, plasticity in the onset of reproduction) that allow them to adjust their reproductive investment as a function of male availability. Natural populations of Oniscidea frequently exhibit a paucity in males, which is directly related to the presence of feminising Wolbachia bacteria. All of these results increase our understanding of the evolution of the Wolbachia/Oniscidea association.