Christine M. Drea

Christine M. Drea

Earl D. McLean Professor

External address: 
129 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Duke Box 90383, 08 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708-0383
(919) 660-7367


I have two broad research interests, sexual differentiation and social behavior, both focused on hyenas and primates. I am particularly interested in unusual species in which the females display a suite of masculinized characteristics, including male- like or exaggerated external genitalia and social dominance. The study of naturally occurring hormones in such unique mammals can reveal general processes of hormonal activity, expressed in genital morphology, reproductive development, and social behavior. Taking a combined laboratory and field approach allows me to relate captive data to various facets of the animals' natural habitat, thereby enhancing the ecological validity of assay procedures and enriching interpretation in an evolutionary framework. The goal of comparative studies of hyenas and lemurs is to help elucidate the mechanisms of mammalian sexual differentiation.

My research program in social behavior focuses on social learning and group cohesion. Using naturalistic tasks that I present to captive animals in socially relevant contexts, I can investigate how social interaction modulates behavior, problem- solving, and cognitive performance. By studying and comparing models of carnivore and primate foraging, I can better understand how group-living animals modify their actions to meet environmental demands. A primary interest is determining whether similar factors, related to having a complex social organization, influence learning and performance across taxonomic groups. I am also interested in how animals learn rules of social conduct and maintain social cohesion, as evidenced by their patterns of behavioral developmental, the intricate balance between aggression and play, the expression of scent marking, and the social facilitation or inhibition of behavior.

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., Emory University 1991

  • M.A., Emory University 1990

  • B.S., University of Maryland, College Park 1984

Hammond, GL, Miguel-Queralt, S, Yalcinkaya, TM, Underhill, C, Place, NJ, Glickman, SE, Drea, CM, Wagner, AP, and Siiteri, PK. "Phylogenetic comparisons implicate sex hormone-binding globulin in "masculinization" of the female spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta)." Endocrinology 153.3 (March 2012): 1435-1443. Full Text

MacLean, EL, Matthews, LJ, Hare, BA, Nunn, CL, Anderson, RC, Aureli, F, Brannon, EM, Call, J, Drea, CM, Emery, NJ, Haun, DBM, Herrmann, E, Jacobs, LF, Platt, ML, Rosati, AG, Sandel, AA, Schroepfer, KK, Seed, AM, Tan, J, van Schaik, CP, and Wobber, V. "How does cognition evolve? Phylogenetic comparative psychology." Anim Cogn 15.2 (March 2012): 223-238. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rushmore, J, Leonhardt, SD, and Drea, CM. "Sight or scent: lemur sensory reliance in detecting food quality varies with feeding ecology." PLoS One 7.8 (2012): e41558-. Full Text

Charpentier, MJE, Ditsoga, C, Mboumba, S, and Drea, CM. "Nasopalatine ducts and flehmen behavior in the mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx): Reevaluating olfactory communication in primates. (Accepted)" American Journal of Primatology (2012). (Academic Article)

Place, NJ, Coscia, EM, Dahl, NJ, Drea, CM, Holekamp, KE, Roser, JF, Sisk, CL, Weldele, ML, and Glickman, SE. "The anti-androgen combination, flutamide plus finasteride, paradoxically suppressed LH and androgen concentrations in pregnant spotted hyenas, but not in males." Gen Comp Endocrinol 170.3 (February 1, 2011): 455-459. Full Text

Crawford, JC, Boulet, M, and Drea, CM. "Smelling wrong: hormonal contraception in lemurs alters critical female odour cues." Proc Biol Sci 278.1702 (January 7, 2011): 122-130. Full Text

Delbarco-Trillo, J, Burkert, BA, Goodwin, TE, and Drea, CM. "Night and day: the comparative study of strepsirrhine primates reveals socioecological and phylogenetic patterns in olfactory signals." J Evol Biol 24.1 (January 2011): 82-98. Full Text

Boulet, M, Crawford, JC, Charpentier, MJE, and Drea, CM. "Honest olfactory ornamentation in a female-dominant primate." J Evol Biol 23.7 (July 2010): 1558-1563. Full Text

Burkert, BA, Broederdorf, LJ, Hirwa, IH, Waldrip, ZJ, Goodwin, TE, and Drea, CM. "Mammalian chemical communication: Comparative investigation of urinary signals in prosimian primates." ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY 239 (March 21, 2010).