Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Threats of Sperm Competition

  • Rebecca L. BurchEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1952-2



The competition between sperm of rival males when a female engages in double mating. This double mating can result in cuckoldry and so males have evolved several strategies to assure paternity. Sperm competition (in both physiological and behavioral manifestations) is a response to this threat.


Sperm competition has been documented in several species, including our own, and reviews of that literature can be found under “Sperm Competition Theory,” “Sperm Competition: Evidence in Nonhumans,” “Human Sperm Competition,” “Opposition to Human Sperm Competition,” and “Tactics to Solve Adaptive Problems of Sperm Competition,” as well as other related entries. While several of these entries provide detailed evidence of the process or its effects on behavior, the impact of such competition or the threat is poses to fitness is usually described in vague terms.

Threat of Cuckoldry

The most widely cited threat from (and motivation for) sperm...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York at OswegoOswegoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gary L Brase
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA