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  1. In species where offspring survival is highly variable relative to adult survival, such as bighorn sheep ( Ovis canadensis ), physiological indicators of maternal investment could clarify the functional mechanisms of life history trade-offs and serve as important predictors of population dynamics. From a management perspective, simple predictors of juvenile survival measured non-lethally from maternal samples could aid in identifying at-risk populations or individuals before significant mortality occurs. Blood biochemical parameters can offer low-cost insights into animal health and physiology, therefore we sought to develop a simple biochemical predictor of juvenile survival based on maternal blood samples. We measured biochemical indicators of energy balance in adult bighorn sheep at a single time point in January or February, and then monitored survival through August of the same year to assess how those measures related to survival of individual adults and their juvenile offspring. Juvenile survival was lower over the subsequent spring and summer when maternal adult serum beta-hydroxybutyric acid (β-HBA) concentration was high, indicating a negative energy balance in the mothers. However, serum β-HBA did not correlate with adult survival over the same period. Our findings suggest that even when maternal body condition is high, short-term caloric deficit may be sufficient trigger to decrease investment in offspring survival. This mechanism could protect adult females from investing heavily in juvenile survival when resources become too limited to support population growth. Our study suggests that β-HBA could be a powerful monitoring tool for bighorn sheep and other threatened ruminant populations under resource limitation. 
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  2. Novel parasites can have wide-ranging impacts, not only on host populations, but also on the resident parasite community. Historically, impacts of novel parasites have been assessed by examining pairwise interactions between parasite species. However, parasite communities are complex networks of interacting species. Here we used multivariate taxonomic and trait-based approaches to determine how parasite community composition changed when African buffalo ( Syncerus caffer ) acquired an emerging disease, bovine tuberculosis (BTB). Both taxonomic and functional parasite richness increased significantly in animals that acquired BTB than in those that did not. Thus, the presence of BTB seems to catalyze extraordinary shifts in community composition. There were no differences in overall parasite taxonomic composition between infected and uninfected individuals, however. The trait-based analysis revealed an increase in direct-transmitted, quickly replicating parasites following BTB infection. This study demonstrates that trait-based approaches provide insight into parasite community dynamics in the context of emerging infections. 
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