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.
Lemur Health, the Microbiome, and Condition-dependent Signals awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2021
DOCTORAL DISSERTATION RESEARCH: A comparative study of gut microbiomes in folivorous lemurs: Effects of captivity, habitat, and evolutionary history awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2019
Life in the wild takes guts: The gut microbiome relative to the phylogeny, folivory, and environment of endangered Malagasy lemurs awarded by Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018
DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Relationship Between Maternal Social Status, Offspring Health, and Female Dispersal Success in Wild Meerkats awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2018
Linking Dietary Quality to the Gut Microbiome of Endangered Malagasy Primates awarded by Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2017
Mechanisms of Female Dominance and Reproductive Skew in a Cooperative Breeder awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2016
REU Supplement: Mechanisms of Social Dynamics in Meerkats awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2016
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement: The Behavioral And Social Effects of Hormone Manipulation in Female-Dominant Lemurs awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2015
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement: Impact of Genetic Health on Parasite Prevalence, Diversity, & Burden in Lemur catta awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2015
Olfactory Communication in Primates awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2010
Greene, Lydia K., et al. “The critical role of dietary foliage in maintaining the gut microbiome and metabolome of folivorous sifakas..” Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1, Sept. 2018. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-32759-7. Full Text
Dimac-Stohl, Kristin A., et al. “Incidence and biomarkers of pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal loss during an environmental stressor: Implications for female reproductive suppression in the cooperatively breeding meerkat..” Physiology & Behavior, vol. 193, no. Pt A, Sept. 2018, pp. 90–100. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.11.011. Full Text
Smyth, Kendra N., et al. “Social and endocrine correlates of immune function in meerkats: implications for the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis..” Royal Society Open Science, vol. 5, no. 8, Aug. 2018. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsos.180435. Full Text
Harris, Rachel L., et al. “Costs of injury for scent signalling in a strepsirrhine primate..” Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1, June 2018. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-27322-3. Full Text
Grogan, Kathleen E., et al. “Genetic wealth, population health: Major histocompatibility complex variation in captive and wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)..” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 7, no. 19, Oct. 2017, pp. 7638–49. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ece3.3317. Full Text
Leclaire, Sarah, et al. “Social odours covary with bacterial community in the anal secretions of wild meerkats..” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, June 2017. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03356-x. Full Text
Davies, Charli S., et al. “Exceptional endocrine profiles characterise the meerkat: sex, status, and reproductive patterns..” Scientific Reports, vol. 6, Oct. 2016. Epmc, doi:10.1038/srep35492. Full Text
Smyth, Kendra N., et al. “Androgens predict parasitism in female meerkats: a new perspective on a classic trade-off..” Biology Letters, vol. 12, no. 10, Oct. 2016. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsbl.2016.0660. Full Text
Charpentier, M. J. E., et al. “Erratum to: Inbreeding depression in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta): genetic diversity predicts parasitism, immunocompetence, and survivorship(Conserv Genet, (2008), 9, 1605-1615, Doi:10.1007/s10592-007-9499-4).” Conservation Genetics, vol. 17, no. 3, June 2016. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s10592-015-0799-9. Full Text
Greene, Lydia K., et al. “Reproductive endocrine patterns and volatile urinary compounds of Arctictis binturong: discovering why bearcats smell like popcorn..” Die Naturwissenschaften, vol. 103, no. 5–6, June 2016. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s00114-016-1361-4. Full Text
Drea, Christine M. “Reassessing Bateman: Sexual selection in strepsirrhine primates.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 153, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014, pp. 108–108.
Grogan, Kathleen E., et al. “The impact of genetic variation at the Major Histocompatibility Complex in captive and wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta).” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 153, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014, pp. 131–131.
Wallen, Tim W., et al. “Prospecting for urinary chemical signals in binturongs (Arctictis binturong).” Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, vol. 241, AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2011.
Scordato, E. S., and C. M. Drea. “Sex-specific variation in ringtailed lemur Lemur catta olfactory communication.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 45, no. 6, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2005, pp. 1070–1070.
Roth, J. D., et al. “Variation in seal consumption by brown hyenas in the Namib desert estimated using stable isotopes.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 45, no. 6, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2005, pp. 1065–1065.
Drea, C. M. “Could female ringtailed lemurs be masculinized by maternal androgens?.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 45, no. 6, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2005, pp. 989–989.
Place, N. J., et al. “Paradoxical effects of maximal androgen blockade on sex hormone concentrations in pregnant spotted hyenas, Crocuta crocuta..” Biology of Reproduction, SOC STUDY REPRODUCTION, 2005, pp. 123–123.
Drea, C. M. “Bateman revisited: Sexually assertive female primates and their cryptic reproductive tactics.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 43, no. 6, SOC INTEGRATIVE COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY, 2003, pp. 915–915.
Drea, C. M., and L. G. Frank. “The social complexity of spotted hyenas.” Animal Social Complexity, edited by F. B. M. DeWaal and P. L. Tyack, HARVARD UNIV PRESS, 2003, pp. 121-+.
Drea, Christine M., and Elizabeth S. Scordato. Olfactory Communication in the Ringtailed Lemur (Lemur catta): Form and Function of Multimodal Signals. Springer New York, pp. 91–102. Crossref, doi:10.1007/978-0-387-73945-8_8. Full Text