Weichert, Charles K. College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Chang, M. C. Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Harper, Michael J. K. Reproductive Biology Division, Center for Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas-Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas.
Hunter, R. H. F. School of Agriculture, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:January 2019
Show previous versions
- Breeding season
- Estrous and menstrual cycles
- Endocrine function in reproduction
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The anatomical structures concerned with the production of sex cells (gametes) and perpetuation of the species. The reproductive system consists of various body organs and glands that ensure the production of new individuals (that is, reproduction). In vertebrates, the reproductive function constitutes the only physiological function that necessitates the existence of two morphologically different kinds of individuals in each animal species—the males and the females (sexual dimorphism). The purpose of the reproductive function is fertilization, that is, the fusion of a male sex cell and a female sex cell produced by two distinct individuals. In each sex, the reproductive system comprises a sex gland or gonad, which produces sex cells (Fig. 1), or gametes, and ducts, which permit the passage of the gametes. In some animals, such as mammals, copulatory organs permit the male germ cells to be introduced into the female ducts, and fertilization is internal; however, in many vertebrates, such as anuran amphibians and many fishes, no copulatory organ exists, and fertilization is external. See also: Animal reproduction; Copulatory organ; Fertilization (animal); Gametogenesis; Gland; Reproductive behavior; Reproductive system disorders; Sexual dimorphism
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8500 articles and Research Reviews covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information