Sexual selection theory provides a framework for investigating the evolution of traits involved in attracting and competing for mates. We show that ecological factors can strongly influence the adaptive value of these traits, and changes to these factors can lead to rapid evolutionary change. We compared sexually selected traits in the small Indian mongoose (Urva auropunctata) between their sparsely-populated native range and four tropical islands to which they were introduced within the last 150 years and where, due to a lack of interspecific competition and predation, they have become invasive and densely populated. Because of a likely increase in encounter rate, we predicted that selection on long-distance chemical advertisement by males would relax in the introduced range. Accordingly, male, but not female, anal pads (used in scent marking) decreased in size in relation to both time since introduction and population density, and their relationship to body size and condition weakened. Concurrently, as predicted by intensified sperm competition, testis size increased following introduction. The small Indian mongoose thus experienced an inversion in the relative contributions to fitness of two sexual traits, followed by their rapid evolution in line with ecological changes.
Missing values (i.e., blank cells) are primarily due to either a) measurements for that particular morphological trait were not collected in that location, or b) the specific animal was missing the measured trait.