Background: Isopods shape features are sensitive and respond to several selective pressures which may result in variations of these features. These pressures might reflect the heterogeneity of the environment where an animal lives. Land isopods Porcellionides pruinosus were collected from an agricultural field. Landmarks geometric morphometrics was applied to evaluate its shape changes during two different seasons. The present work aims to (i) assess and characterize morphological changes in body shape of P. pruinosus as a response to seasonal variations, (ii) determine differences in the body shape during ontogeny, (iii) examine the effect of intraspecific allometry to interpret the observed variations in the species, and (iv) clarify whether the body shape of P. pruinosus can be used as a sexual differentiating trait.
Results: Juveniles showed no seasonal variations in the body shape, which were detected among adults, females and males as shown by PCA, DFA, and MANOVA. The adult winter forms have large bodies, small heads, broad pereons, and short but wide telsons. The adult summer forms have small slender bodies, slightly stretched heads, and relatively long telsons. Juveniles’ growth to adulthood showed body shape changes in the head and pereon, that include shrank of the head in the anteroposterior direction and its level became slightly lower than the body. The pereon becomes broader and the
two anterolateral projections of the first pereonite extend anteriorly, reaching a little beyond the posterior margin of the eyes. Present species showed a shape sexual dimorphism which includes the broader body and more convex pereon in females and a small waist between the second and third pleonites in males. Shape sexual dimorphism was attributed to reproductive activity. Both allometric trajectories of juveniles and adults (ontogenetic allometry) and of sexes (static allometry) were parallel.
Conclusions: The landmark geometric morphometric technique was able to reveal the seasonal shape variations in terrestrial isopod P. pruinosus. Also, this method provides information about shape variations between juveniles and adults, as well as about shape sexual dimorphism.