Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Rachel M. PetersenEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_304-1



Insemination package of sperm and other compounds produced by the male to facilitate transfer of sperm to the site of fertilization


An ejaculate is composed of male genetic material housed within sperm cells and fluids containing chemical compounds that improve male fertilization success. Sperm is produced in the testes and travels out of the male’s body through a system of ducts connected to the accessory reproductive glands (ARGs). The accessory reproductive glands add fluids to the ejaculate for sperm nourishment and protection while inside the female reproductive tract.

Sperm Production

Spermatogenesis, or the process of sperm production, occurs within microscopic tubules within the testicles. Mature sperm cells develop from spermatogonia, the undifferentiated male germ cell, and are matured and stored within the male reproductive tract prior to ejaculation. Sperm cells are haploid, meaning they contain only half of the genetic material...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Birkhead, T. R., & Møller, A. P. (1998). Sperm competition and sexual selection. Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chapman, T., Liddle, L. F., Kalb, J. M., Wolfner, M. F., & Partridge, L. (1995). Cost of mating in Drosophila melanogaster females is mediated by male accessory gland products. Nature, 373, 241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dewsbury, D. A. (1982). Ejaculate cost and male choice. The American Naturalist, 119, 601–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dixson, A. L., & Anderson, M. J. (2002). Sexual selection, seminal coagulation and copulatory plug formation in primates. Folia Primatologica, 73, 63–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Folstad, I., & Skarstein, P. (1997). Is male germ line control creating avenues for female choice? Behavioral Ecology, 8, 109–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gage, M. J. (1994). Associations between body size, mating pattern, testis size and sperm lengths across butterflies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 258, 247–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gage, M. J., Stockley, P., & Parker, G. A. (1995). Effects of alternative male mating strategies on characteristics of sperm production in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): Theoretical and empirical investigations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 350, 391–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gillott, C. (2003). Male accessory gland secretions: Modulators of female reproductive physiology and behavior. Annual review of entomology, 48, 163–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hunter, F., & Birkhead, T. (2002). Sperm viability and sperm competition in insects. Current Biology, 12, 121–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Møller, A., & Briskie, J. (1995). Extra-pair paternity, sperm competition and the evolution of testis size in birds. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 36, 357–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Parker, G. A., & Pizzari, T. (2010). Sperm competition and ejaculate economics. Biological Reviews, 85(4), 897–934.Google Scholar
  12. Pitnick, S., Hosken, D. J., & Birkhead, T. R. (2009). Sperm morphological diversity. In Sperm biology: An evolutionary perspective (Vol. 3, pp. 69–149). London: Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pound, N., & Gage, M. J. (2004). Prudent sperm allocation in Norway rats, Rattus norvegicus: a mammalian model of adaptive ejaculate adjustment. Animal Behaviour, 68, 819–823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Snook, R. R. (2005). Sperm in competition: not playing by the numbers. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20, 46–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Spence, R., Reichard, M., & Smith, C. (2013). Strategic sperm allocation and a Coolidge effect in an externally fertilizing species. Behavioral Ecology, 24, 82–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Constance Dubuc
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK