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

Leclaire, S., et al. “Bacterial communities in meerkat anal scent secretions vary with host sex, age, and group membership.” Behavioral Ecology, vol. 25, no. 4, Jan. 2014, pp. 996–1004. Scopus, doi:10.1093/beheco/aru074. Full Text

Cunha, Gerald R., et al. “Development of the external genitalia: perspectives from the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta).Differentiation; Research in Biological Diversity, vol. 87, no. 1–2, Jan. 2014, pp. 4–22. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.diff.2013.12.003. Full Text

Delbarco-Trillo, Javier, et al. “Chemical differences between voided and bladder urine in the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis): implications for olfactory communication studies.American Journal of Primatology, vol. 75, no. 7, July 2013, pp. 695–702. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajp.22083. Full Text

Drea, Christine M., et al. “The "secret" in secretions: methodological considerations in deciphering primate olfactory communication.American Journal of Primatology, vol. 75, no. 7, July 2013, pp. 621–42. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajp.22143. Full Text

Charpentier, Marie J. E., et al. “Nasopalatine ducts and flehmen behavior in the mandrill: reevaluating olfactory communication in Old World primates.American Journal of Primatology, vol. 75, no. 7, July 2013, pp. 703–14. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajp.22146. Full Text

Charpentier, Marie J. E., and Christine M. Drea. “Victims of infanticide and conspecific bite wounding in a female-dominant primate: a long-term study.Plos One, vol. 8, no. 12, Jan. 2013, p. e82830. Epmc, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082830. Full Text Open Access Copy

delBarco-Trillo, Javier, et al. “Eulemur, me lemur: the evolution of scent-signal complexity in a primate clade.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, vol. 367, no. 1597, July 2012, pp. 1909–22. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0225. Full Text

Hammond, Geoffrey L., et al. “Phylogenetic comparisons implicate sex hormone-binding globulin in "masculinization" of the female spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta).Endocrinology, vol. 153, no. 3, Mar. 2012, pp. 1435–43. Epmc, doi:10.1210/en.2011-1837. Full Text

MacLean, Evan L., et al. “How does cognition evolve? Phylogenetic comparative psychology.Anim Cogn, vol. 15, no. 2, Mar. 2012, pp. 223–38. Pubmed, doi:10.1007/s10071-011-0448-8. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rushmore, Julie, et al. “Sight or scent: lemur sensory reliance in detecting food quality varies with feeding ecology.Plos One, vol. 7, no. 8, Jan. 2012, p. e41558. Epmc, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041558. Full Text