Reproduction in Tardigrades

     Tardigrades have a wide variety of reproductive strategies, that are both sexual, and asexual in nature. Normally, they are dioecious, meaning that they have a female, and male version, and reproduce sexually. However, there are some colonies/species where it is reported that there are no males at all.

     In sexual reproduction, females will lay anywhere from 1-30 eggs, which they often leave in their shed molt. The males will then come along, and fertilize the eggs by depositing his sperm.

     Development in most tardigrades is inexistent--they experience no larval stages, unlike the young of the phyla Arthropoda.      

     In asexual reproduction, as aforementioned, there are no males in some species of tardigrades. Therefore, they under go parthenogenesis; the females will lay eggs, which will develop without need of fertilization.  

This image is used with the gracious permission of Goldstein Labs at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill