Abstract A review of research on life‐cycle events in field and laboratory populations of monogonont rotifers shows that there is great variation at multiple levels: (1) degree of sexual dimorphism; (2) occurrence and timing of sex; (3) propensity for sex during sexual periods; (4) factors controlling initiation of sex; and (5) timing and extent of emergence from diapause. There is no regular pattern where: (1) fertilised resting eggs hatch to start the growing season; (2) populations develop via female parthenogenesis during favourable conditions; and then (3) bisexual reproduction with resting‐egg production occurs during later, unfavourable conditions. Sexual reproduction in natural populations can occur throughout much of the growing season, be restricted to some period(s) during the growing season, or be completely absent. During sexual reproduction in both natural and laboratory populations, only some fraction of females produces males or resting eggs. This bet‐hedging strategy can prevent a population crash and permits future population growth via female parthenogenesis. Selection against sexual reproduction, and rapid loss of sex, can occur. Laboratory experiments with pond‐dwelling species have identified specific environmental factors that induce sex in different species: (1) increasing population density; (2) dietary tocopherol (vitamin E) and (3) long photoperiods. These factors generally are associated with favourable conditions for population growth and production of energy‐rich resting eggs: (1) large population size; (2) high probability of contacts between males and fertilisable females; and (3) nutritious diets. Endogenous factors can inhibit responses to these environmental inducers, and thus favour female parthenogenesis. The timing of resting‐egg hatching depends on: (1) occurrence of specific environmental conditions; (2) the minimum duration of obligate diapause; and (3) the genotype and physiology of females producing resting eggs. Hatching may occur shortly after oviposition, after a long diapause before or at the start of a new growing season, or throughout the growing season. Hatching can be massive and contribute substantially to population growth and genetic diversity. Areas for future research include: (1) determining the timing and extent of sex and resting‐egg hatching in more natural populations, especially those that are marine, benthic, sessile, and interstitial; and (2) identifying environmental and physiological factors controlling these events.

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