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Claudia Fricke and Mareike Koppik

Ageing is nearly ubiquitous and encompasses all biological functions. We here focus on age-dependent changes in male reproductive capacity across a broad range of animal taxa. While there has been a long-standing focus on mating ability and overall reproductive success, we here highlight the underlying mechanisms that explain loss in fertilisation capacity in ageing males. Fertilisation is mediated by not only the presence of sperm, but also the cocktail of seminal fluid proteins that ensure sperm survival, capacitation and interaction with female physiology. Sperm ageing has received much attention in studies of male reproductive senescence; however, post-mating processes include a number of interlocked steps that together cumulate in successful fertilisation. As such we consider male ability to elicit female post mating responses such as uterine conformational changes, sperm storage and ovulation and the components within the ejaculate that mediate these post-mating processes. For the latter seminal fluid proteins are key and hence we reflect on age-dependent changes in quality of the entire ejaculate and its consequences for male reproductive capacity. While first studies accrue and highlight that changes in the non-sperm fraction can explain substantial variation in senescent male reproductive success and male ability to induce post-mating responses necessary for fertilisation many open questions still remain that warrant further investigations. One being what the potential age-dependent changes in composition are or whether there is a general decline and how this interacts with sperm to affect fertilisation success. Further, the impact females might have to ameliorate these changes will be an area of interest.