The Open Door Web Site
Part XIX : Colonizing and Populating Habitats :
A pair of mating damsel flies showing sexual reproduction
COLONIZING AND POPULATING HABITATS
So far, all the animals and plants that we have studied produce their offspring by making sex cells called eggs and sperms, or pollen in the case of flowering plants. This is called sexual reproduction because it involves two sexes: males and females, which produce sex cells.
Sometimes male and female sexes are found in the same individual, such as the barnacle or the liverwort. These organisms are called hermaphrodites. To reproduce, hermaphrodites produce both types of sex cells, so they are using sexual reproduction.
Is it possible for an animal or a plant to reproduce without using sex cells? The answer is "yes" for some organisms.
Asexual reproduction: Reproducing without sex cells
Asexual reproduction does not require sperms or eggs to be produced. Therefore a single individual can produce offspring in this way without fertilization. All the offspring produced by asexual reproduction are identical to one another; they are called a clone.
Asexual reproduction is common in the plant kingdom where it is also called vegetative reproduction. Asexual reproduction is also used by single-celled organisms and simple animals.
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