Reproduction may be asexual when one individual produces genetically identical offspring, or sexual when the genetic material from two individuals is combined to produce genetically diverse offspring. Asexual reproduction in animals occurs through fission, budding, fragmentation, and parthenogenesis. Sexual reproduction may involve fertilization inside the body or in the external environment. A species may have separate sexes or combined sexes; when the sexes are combined they may be expressed at different times in the life cycle. The sex of an individual may be determined by various chromosomal systems or environmental factors such as temperature.
Sexual reproduction starts with the combination of a sperm and an egg in a process called fertilization. This can occur either outside the bodies or inside the female. The method of fertilization varies among animals. Some species release the egg and sperm into the environment, some species retain the egg and receive the sperm into the female body and then expel the developing embryo covered with shell, while still other species retain the developing offspring throughout the gestation period.