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Male Sperm Reserves and Copulation Behaviour in the House Sparrow, Passer domesticus

T. R. Birkhead, J. P. Veiga and A. P. Moller
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 256, No. 1347 (Jun. 22, 1994), pp. 247-251
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/50169
Page Count: 5
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Male Sperm Reserves and Copulation Behaviour in the House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to measure the rates of sperum utilization and production in male house sparrows, passer domesticus: this is the first attempt to do this for any wild bird. The number of spermatozoa in the seminal glomera of males on days -1 to +3 (i.e. during their partner's fertile period) declined significantly throughout the course of the day. Males had about 12.13 × 106 spermatozoa in their seminal glomera at the start of the day and during 16 copulations each day used 10.31 × 106 spermatozoa, which is probably all that was available for ejaculation. Mean ejaculate size was estimated to be 0.64 × 106 spermatozoa. Seminal glomera occur only in passerines and their function is unclear, but our results suggest a new hypothesis: if spermatozoa production and spermatozoa transport to the seminal glomera are limited to a short period during the night, the seminal glomera serve as a daily spermatozoa store.

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