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.
Olfactory Communication in Primates awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2010
Patterns of lemur reproductive and behavioral development awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2004 to 2007
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, p. 180435. 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, p. 3240. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03356-x. Full Text
McKenney, Erin A., et al. “Down for the count: Cryptosporidium infection depletes the gut microbiome in Coquerel's sifakas.” Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, vol. 28, no. 1, Jan. 2017, p. 1335165. Epmc, doi:10.1080/16512235.2017.1335165. Full Text
Davies, Charli S., et al. “Exceptional endocrine profiles characterise the meerkat: sex, status, and reproductive patterns.” Scientific Reports, vol. 6, Oct. 2016, p. 35492. 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, p. 751. 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, p. 37. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s00114-016-1361-4. Full Text
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, p. 160076. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsos.160076. Full Text Open Access Copy
Grogan, Kathleen E., et al. “Ring-tailed lemurs use olfactory signals to differentiate the MHC quality of potential mates.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 159, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016, pp. 162–162.
Smyth, K. N., et al. “The costs of being the boss: androgens and innate immunity in a female-dominant species.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 56, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2016, pp. E206–E206.
Grogan, K. E., et al. “The Influence of MHC on Reproductive Success in Wild Ring-tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta).” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 56, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2016, pp. E80–E80.
Davies, C. S., et al. “Hormonal 'masculinization' in female meerkats (Suricata suricatta).” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 56, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2016, pp. E50–E50.
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.