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Physiol Behav. 2004 Nov 15;83(2):361-71.

Sexual behavior, reproductive physiology and sperm competition in male mammals.

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  • 1Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, Zoological Society of San Diego, Post Office Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112-0551, USA.


Sperm competition involves competition between the gametes of two or more males of a species for fertilization of a given set of ova. Sperm competition is widespread among mammals, as in many other groups of vertebrates. Effects of sexual selection, via sperm competition, upon the evolution of reproductive physiology and behavior are much better understood in invertebrates (and especially in insects) than is the case for mammals. However, if the reproductive organs of male mammals are viewed as an integrated system for production and delivery of spermatozoa (and accessory glandular secretions) to females, then it is logical to assume that sperm competition might influence the evolution of all parts of the system, as well as associated physiological mechanisms (e.g., testicular endocrinology) and behavior (e.g., copulatory patterns). Here we analyze and review relationships between mating systems, relative testes sizes and sperm morphology, phallic morphology, circulating testosterone levels and sexual behavior in male mammals.

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