The pairwise union of individuals for sexual reproduction - ultimately resulting in the formation of zygotes.

Mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms, usually for the purposes of sexual reproduction. Some definitions limit the term to pairing between animals,[1] while other definitions extend the term to mating in plants and fungi.

Dragonflies (Austrogomphus guerini) mating

Fertilization is the fusion of gametes.[2] Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for internal fertilization.

Mating may also lead to external fertilization, as seen in amphibians, fishes and plants. For most species, mating is between two individuals of opposite sexes.

For some hermaphroditic species, copulation is not needed because the parent organism can self-fertilize (autogamy). In some flowering plants self-pollination can happen within the same flower, and some hermaphrodite animals self-fertilize. Many gastropods are hermaphrodite, and do simultaneous copulation. So do earthworms.

In some birds, mating includes behaviors such as nest-building and feeding offspring. The human practice of mating and artificial insemination of domesticated animals is part of animal husbandry.


  1. The Free Dictionary. "Mate". Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  2. The Free Dictionary. "'Fertilization' - definition of". Farlex, Inc. Retrieved 25 January 2014.