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Phenotypic matching by spot pattern potentially mediates female giraffe social associations

Animal color pattern is a phenotypic trait that may mediate assortative mixing (also known as homophily), whereby similar looking individuals have stronger social associations. Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) coat spot patterns show high variation and some spot traits appear to be heritable. Giraffes also have high visual acuity, which may facilitate intraspecific communication and recognition based on spot patterns. Giraffe groupings are dynamic, merging and splitting throughout the day, but females form long-term associations. We predicted that adult female

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