The Human Body

Reproduction

Reproduction, process whereby all living organisms produce offspring. Reproduction is one of the essential functions of plants, animals, and single celled organisms, as necessary for the preservation of the species as eating is for the preservation of the individual.

In almost all animal organisms, reproduction occurs during or after the period of maximum growth. In plants, which continue to grow throughout their lifetime, the relationship between growth and reproduction is more complex. Individual plants have growth limitations imposed by inherited characteristics and environmental conditions; if the plant grows excessively, any of a number of reproductive processes may be stimulated (see Plant Propagation). Environmental conditions also play some part in the reproduction of higher animals, but hormonal elements are more important.