Dewsbury, Donald A. Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Mating systems
- Territoriality and dominance
- Preliminary events
- Mate choice
- Parental behavior and care
- Parental investment
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Behavior related to the production of offspring, including such patterns as the establishment of mating systems, courtship, sexual behavior, parturition, and the care of young. Reproductive behavior encompasses all of the behavior patterns in different types of animals by means of which the sperm is brought to the egg and the parental care of the resulting young is ensured. In general, successful reproductive efforts require the establishment of a situation favorable for reproduction, often require behavior leading to the union of male and female gametes (sex cells), and often require behavior that facilitates or ensures the survival and development of the young; the mere union of gametes is not generally sufficient for successful reproduction. For each species, there is a complex set of behavioral adaptations that coordinate the timing and patterning of reproductive activity. Typically, this entails integration of both overt behavioral and internal physiological events in both the male and female, all of which are intricately enmeshed in manners adapted to the environment in which the animals live (Fig. 1). The behavioral patterns related to reproduction tend to be relatively stereotyped within a species, but diverse among different species, especially distantly related species. The end products of cycles of reproductive activity are viable, fertile offspring that, in turn, will reproduce and thus perpetuate the species. See also: Adaptation (biology); Animal reproduction; Behavioral ecology; Ethology; Reproductive system
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