sneak copulation

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Behaviour in which a subordinate male or in territorial species a male that has been unable to acquire a territory of its own is nevertheless able to mate with a receptive female. In baboons (Cercopithecidae), the subordinate male follows a dominant male and his consort, who is in oestrus (see oestrus cycle); if the dominant male should leave the female unguarded, the subordinate moves in quickly and mates with her. In many territorial insects, males lacking territories wait in a corner of a territory, leaving if challenged by the owner but also waiting for an opportunity to mate undetected by the territory owner. In some lizard and fish species subordinate males behave as though they were females in order to approach a genuine female without arousing suspicion. In bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum), males lacking territories wait at the edge of a territory until the owner has induced a female to spawn, then rush in to release their sperm before the territory owner can respond.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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