International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 1267–1278 | Cite as

Sperm Competition and Optimal Timing of Matings in Microcebus murinus

  • Manfred EberleEmail author
  • Martine Perret
  • Peter M. Kappeler


Female promiscuity is common in mammals and leads to sperm competition: the sperm of ≥2 males compete for ova. Scientists understand the possible role of optimal insemination periods for male reproductive success in many species as well as the impact of monopolization of receptive females. Information from experiments combined with detailed observations from the field that allow determining the relative impacts of the elements in the same species are rare. We studied sperm competition and the role of optimal insemination periods in gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus), a small solitary nocturnal primate from Madagascar. We used controlled matings to identify the relative impact of both contest and scramble competition, which characterize their mating system, on paternity. Fifteen females mated with 3–6 males in quick succession. Our experiments revealed that the optimal insemination period is during early receptivity. Early but not first mating males are more likely to sire offspring. Comparison with our field data indicate that the timing of male monopolization efforts correspond with the optimal insemination period.


mating plug mating strategy Microcebus mixed paternity primates sperm competition 



We thank Jörg U. Ganzhorn, Hans Zischler, Andreas Hapke, and Marjorie Andrès for their authorization or support of the study. We also thank Tim Birkhead for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and Daniel Stahl for statistical advice. The Deutsches Primatenzentrum and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Ka 1082/5-1,2) provided financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfred Eberle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martine Perret
    • 2
  • Peter M. Kappeler
    • 3
  1. 1.Abteilung Verhaltensökologie & Soziobiologie, Deutsches PrimatenzentrumLeibnitz-Institut für PrimatenforschungGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Département d’Ecologie et Gestion de la BiodiversitéBrunoyFrance
  3. 3.Abteilung Verhaltensökologie & Soziobiologie, Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Leibnitz-Institut für Primatenforschung, and Institut für Zoologie und AnthropologieUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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