Alaska Science Center
Mechanism and ecological significance of sperm storage in the Northern Fulmar with reference to its occurrence in other birds
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Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hatch, S. A.
Sperm storage glands were found in the uterovaginal (UV) region of the oviduct in Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), Horned Puffins (Fratercula corniculata), and Leach's Storm-Petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) collected before or shortly after egg laying. Previously described only in domestic Galliformes, UV sperm-storage glands may prove to be a common feature of the avian reproductive system. There is as yet no compelling explanation of their function in the Horned Puffin. In the Northern Fulmar, and probably in other petrels, however, sperm-storage glands allow the separation of the male and female over pelagic waters for several weeks immediately before egg laying. The likelihood of prolonged viability of sperm in the female reproductive tract should be considered in interpreting the sexual behavior of other wild birds.