Does delayed fertilization facilitate sperm competition in bats?

Teri J. Orr, Marlene Zuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Reproductive delays between mating and birth may provide a previously unconsidered avenue for post-copulatory sexual selection in mammals. In particular, delayed fertilization could provide an enhanced opportunity for sperm competition by extending the time for ejaculates to interact in the female reproductive tract. We tested the prediction that species with delayed fertilization exhibit greater degrees of sperm competition than those without delays by examining testis volume (a proxy for sperm competition) in 38 species of bats. Examination of fluid-preserved museum specimens of bat species with and without delays revealed that species with delays (in particular those with delayed fertilization) had significantly larger testes than species without them. Although it predicts the presence of delayed fertilization, hibernation did not predict relative testis size. We conclude that, once they evolve, reproductive delays may facilitate sperm competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1903-1913
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Chiroptera
  • Delayed fertilization
  • Hibernation
  • Sexual selection
  • Sperm competition
  • Testes size

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