In temporary aquatic habitats, permanence and the severe disturbance associated with desiccation are strong selective agents expected to lead to differentiation in life history strategies in populations experiencing different disturbance regimes. Besides optimal timing of hatching of dormant life stages, maturation and reproduction, pool inhabitants also benefit from the acquisition of reliable cues for the quality of the ambient environment. We investigated whether hatching patterns, life history characteristics and egg bank size of Branchipodopsis fairy shrimp (Branchiopoda, Anostraca) inhabiting a cluster of temporary rock pools in South Africa reflect variation in habitat stability and hatching cues. Long-term hydrological variation was used to select pools along a gradient of habitat stability. Initial conductivity was a good indicator for the length of inundations. No hatching occurred under elevated conductivities, which may present a mechanism to avoid abortive hatching. Egg bank size was unaffected by habitat size or habitat stability but instead was related to cover by a protective sheet of dry aquatic vegetation, which presumably counteracts egg bank erosion by wind when pools are dry. Life history but not hatching phenology reflected some aspects of habitat stability. Fairy shrimp populations in ephemeral pools started reproduction earlier than populations in more stable habitats. Additional common garden or transplant experiments, however, will be required to assess the relative importance of environmental and genetic components in explaining the observed variation and acquire more insight into the trade-offs that lie at the base of the evolution of life history strategies along the pond permanence gradient.