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Copulation behaviour in mammals: evidence that sperm competition is widespread
- MØLLER, A. P., BIRKHEAD, T. R.
- Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1989 v.38 no.2 pp. 119-131
- burrows, copulation, females, insurance, males, mate guarding, monogamy, paternity, polygyny, small mammals, sperm competition
- We review information on copulation behaviour and sperm competition in mammals using data primarily from the literature. Female mammals of many species regularly copulate with more than one male during each oestrous period. Such multi-male copulations are reported more often in social, compared with solitary species. In addition, the mates of males of polygynous species experience multi-male copulations as often as the mates of males or monogamous species. Male mammals attempt to increase their certainty of paternity through a number of reproductive tactics. Copulation frequency is higher in specks with multi-male copulations compared with other species. Consortships, which can br regarded as a form of mate guarding, are often absent from species in which more than one male copulates with each female during her oestrous period. Most solitary burrow-living small mammal species copulate in the open, whereas social species often copulate inside their burrows. Insurance copulations may occur in many species since high copulation rates occur in four circumstances: (i) when mates are reunited, (ii) when a new male takes over a female, (iii) when a strange male steals a copulation, and (iv) when an audience of males is present.