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Formation of highly resistant dormant forms is a well-known feature that allows inhabitants of unstable water bodies to survive periods of adverse conditions. The resistance of dormant forms of some aquatic invertebrates to different biotic and abiotic factors has been well characterized in recent decades, while the tolerance to desiccation of some rotifers has been recognized since the beginning of the 18th century. Here, I review the literature on the longevity and resistance to environmental extremes of dormant stages of planktonic animals (i.e. cladocerans, copepods, ostracods, monogonont rotifers) and some other aquatic invertebrates. Mechanisms of resistance and the evolutionary forces that shape them are also discussed.