Reproduction

reproduction and survival between reproductive seasons are the two most important things in life for any animal. The details of the reproductive machine—the anatomy of the organs, the whole complicated process of the production and care of the young, and the extent to which this process can be adjusted to the prospects of success—are matters of intense importance to individuals, and are always under the unrelenting scrutiny of natural selection. This chapter gives a simple description of the machinery. Variations in its performance, which profoundly affect the population dynamics of weasels, will be taken up in Chapter 10, and the curious matter of delayed implantation (embryonic diapause), one of the greatest puzzles of mustelid reproduction, will be discussed in Chapter 14.

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