The cauda epididymidis, uterine corpus, and cornua and uterotubal junction of Myotis function to retain and preserve normal spermatozoa throughout hibernation. In none of the sites do spermatozoa show features that might account for their extended viability. Spermatozoa stored in the uterus and epididymis show no special orientation toward the epithelium lining these sites, whereas an intimate relationship is established between some sperm and the epithelial cells of the uterotubal junction which might either account for extended postcoital sperm survival or forecast their removal from further participation. Transmission and scanning electron microscopic observations do not disclose any morphological changes in stored luminal spermatozoa. A low rate of phagocytosis of sperm is evident in the female tract during hibernation. However, spermatozoa are evidently not vulnerable to being removed from the storage sites until spring arousal when ovulation occurs. Both uterotubal epithelial cells and phagocytes appear to be involved in the disposal of spermatozoa in the female, whereas epididymal spermatozoa apparently are primarily voided during urination. A mechanism that delays capacitation must underlie the ability of spermatozoa to survive in the female reproductive tract of the hibernating bat.
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