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

Selected Grants

Patterns of lemur reproductive and behavioral development awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2004 to 2007


Greene, Lydia K., et al. “Mix it and fix it: functions of composite olfactory signals in ring-tailed lemurs..” Royal Society Open Science, vol. 3, no. 4, Apr. 2016. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsos.160076. Full Text Open Access Copy

Grogan, Kathleen E., et al. “Next-generation genotyping of hypervariable loci in many individuals of a non-model species: technical and theoretical implications..” Bmc Genomics, vol. 17, Mar. 2016. Epmc, doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2503-y. Full Text

delBarco-Trillo, Javier, et al. “Beyond aggression: Androgen-receptor blockade modulates social interaction in wild meerkats..” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 78, Feb. 2016, pp. 95–106. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.11.001. Full Text

Smyth, K. N., and C. M. Drea. “Patterns of parasitism in the cooperatively breeding meerkat: A cost of dominance for females.” Behavioral Ecology, vol. 27, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 148–57. Scopus, doi:10.1093/beheco/arv132. Full Text

Drea, C. M. “D'scent of man: A comparative survey of primate chemosignaling in relation to sex.” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 68, Feb. 2015, pp. 117–33. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.08.001. Full Text

Drea, Christine M. “D'scent of man: a comparative survey of primate chemosignaling in relation to sex..” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 68, Feb. 2015, pp. 117–33. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.08.001. Full Text

Crawford, Jeremy Chase, and Christine M. Drea. “Baby on board: olfactory cues indicate pregnancy and fetal sex in a non-human primate..” Biology Letters, vol. 11, no. 2, Feb. 2015. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0831. Full Text Open Access Copy

Petty, Joseph M. A., and Christine M. Drea. “Female rule in lemurs is ancestral and hormonally mediated..” Scientific Reports, vol. 5, Jan. 2015. Epmc, doi:10.1038/srep09631. Full Text

delBarco-Trillo, J., and C. M. Drea. “Socioecological and phylogenetic patterns in the chemical signals of strepsirrhine primates.” Animal Behaviour, vol. 97, Nov. 2014, pp. 249–53. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.07.009. Full Text

Kulahci, I. G., et al. “Individual recognition through olfactory-auditory matching in lemurs.” Proceedings. Biological Sciences / the Royal Society, vol. 281, no. 1784, June 2014. Scopus, doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0071. Full Text