The distribution of spermatozoa and seminal plug in the reproductive tract and the timing of ovulation were examined at various times in a naturally mated monovular macropodid marsupial, namely the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). After the first post parturn (p.p.) mating, 28 females were isolated and their reproductive tracts dissected at 0.5, 6, 18, 36 and 40 h post coitum (p.c.). Each tract was ligated into 13 major anatomical sections and spermatozoa and eggs were recovered by flushing. Mating was possibly delayed by handling and occurred 21.7 ± 2.5 h p.p. in these animals. Copulation lasted 7.8 ± 0.7 min. Within 0.5 h after a single mating, the tract contained 25.8 ± 10.2 × 106 spermatozoa and 21.6 ± 8.8 g of seminal plug, 96% and 70% of which was lost within 6 h p.c. respectively. Spermatozoa reached the uterus, isthmus and ampulla of the oviduct on the side of the developing follicle within 0.5, 6 and 18 h p.c., respectively, and a uterine population of 26.1 × 12. 103 spermatozoa was maintained for over 40 h. Sperm numbers were reduced at the cervix (up to 57-fold) and uterombule junction (eight-fold) and only one in approximately 7500 ejaculated spermatozoa (3.4 ± 0.9 × 103) reached the oviduct on the follicle side. Differential transport of spermatozoa was not observed. Although the numbers of spermatozoa were reduced in the parturient uterus, they were highly variable and were not significantly different to those in the non-parturient uterus. Ovulation and recovery of sperm-covered eggs from the isthmus occurred 36-41 h p.c. (49-72 h p.p.). In contrast with the polyovular dasyurid and didelphid marsupials, the tammar wallaby ejaculates large numbers of spermatozoa, but transport is relatively inefficient and sperm storage in the tract before ovulation is limited.
- Copulatory plug
- Sperm reservoir