Copulatory Behavior as Courtship Communication


Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, U.S.A.


In the copulatory behavior of many species of rodents, mounting patterns with ejaculation are preceded by mounts with nonejaculatory intromissions. Although not directly related to insemination, these intromissions have generally been treated as “copulatory” behavior. If we treat these nonejaculatory intromissions as courtship communication in the tactile modality, new relationships become apparent. Within the context of classical ethology, intromissions can be considered in relation to both proximate dynamics and ultimate effects. Within the sociobiological/behavioral-ecological context, intromissions can be viewed in relation to manipulation, female assessment and choice, and honesty of communication. The intromissions synchronize, persuade, and orient at the same time as they manipulate the partner.