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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

21 - Male Reproduction: Physiology, Behavior, and Ecology



Women and men exhibit vast differences in reproductive physiologies, behaviors, and ecologies. The present chapter aims to illustrate these fundamental differences by utilizing recent theoretical and empirical developments in addition to clinical and anthropological data that help clarify the evolutionary bases for human male reproductive functions. We begin with a discussion of the various aspects of male reproductive effort, including the physiology and behaviors associated with seeking, attracting, and choosing mates, competing for and controlling mates, paternal behaviors, and the proximate determinants of spermatogenesis, libido, and erection. For the specific purpose of better understanding male reproductive ecology, we next provide readers with a description of male reproductive physiology, including major aspects of development, endocrinology, and senescence. Testosterone may be synonymous with maleness; however, it may impose a number of costs, including negative energy balance, immunosuppression, and prostate cancer.

A discussion on male reproductive ecology ends our chapter because it draws from our discussions on reproductive effort and physiology. Readers are encouraged to utilize the information presented here to further discussion and research on human male reproduction, both the proximate mechanisms involved in addition to the evolutionary explanations for the ways we function and behave.

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