Christine M. Drea
Earl D. McLean Professor
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.
Leonhardt, S. D., et al. “Seeing red: Behavioral evidence of trichromatic color vision in strepsirrhine primates.” Behavioral Ecology, vol. 20, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp. 1–12. Scopus, doi:10.1093/beheco/arn106. Full Text
Charpentier, Marie J. E., et al. “Smelling right: the scent of male lemurs advertises genetic quality and relatedness..” Molecular Ecology, vol. 17, no. 14, July 2008, pp. 3225–33. Epmc, doi:10.1111/j.1365-294x.2008.03831.x. Full Text
Drea, Christine M., and Anne Weil. “External genital morphology of the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta): females are naturally "masculinized"..” Journal of Morphology, vol. 269, no. 4, Apr. 2008, pp. 451–63. Epmc, doi:10.1002/jmor.10594. Full Text
Charpentier, M. J. E., et al. “Inbreeding depression in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta): Genetic diversity predicts parasitism, immunocompetence, and survivorship.” Conservation Genetics, vol. 9, no. 6, Jan. 2008, pp. 1605–15. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s10592-007-9499-4. Full Text
Scordato, Elizabeth S., et al. “Chemical composition of scent marks in the ringtailed lemur (Lemur catta): glandular differences, seasonal variation, and individual signatures..” Chemical Senses, vol. 32, no. 5, June 2007, pp. 493–504. Epmc, doi:10.1093/chemse/bjm018. Full Text
Kwatra, S. G., and C. M. Drea. “Proteomic analysis of ringtailed lemur scent gland secretions: Glandular- and individual-specific protein profiles.” American Journal of Primatology, vol. 69, WILEY-LISS, June 2007, pp. 108–09.
Drea, C. M. “How to study socially biased learning in primates? Trends and future directions.” American Journal of Primatology, vol. 69, WILEY-LISS, June 2007, pp. 78–79.
Drea, C. M. “Hormonal and experiential regulation of social dominance in macaques, hyenas, and lemurs.” American Journal of Primatology, vol. 69, WILEY-LISS, June 2007, pp. 125–125.
Drea, Christine M. “Sex and seasonal differences in aggression and steroid secretion in Lemur catta: are socially dominant females hormonally 'masculinized'?.” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 51, no. 4, Apr. 2007, pp. 555–67. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.02.006. Full Text
Scordato, E. S., and C. M. Drea. “Scents and sensibility: information content of olfactory signals in the ringtailed lemur, Lemur catta.” Animal Behaviour, vol. 73, no. 2, Feb. 2007, pp. 301–14. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2006.08.006. Full Text