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.
Doctoral Dissertation Research: Antimicrobial resistance as a form of anthropogenic disturbance to lemur gut microbiomes awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2022
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: The Impact of Genetic Health on Parasite Prevalence, Diversity, and Burden in Wild Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Lemur catta. awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2015
Greene, Lydia K., et al. “A role for gut microbiota in host niche differentiation.” The Isme Journal, vol. 14, no. 7, July 2020, pp. 1675–87. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41396-020-0640-4. Full Text
Drea, Christine M. “Design, delivery and perception of condition-dependent chemical signals in strepsirrhine primates: implications for human olfactory communication.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, vol. 375, no. 1800, June 2020, p. 20190264. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0264. Full Text
Bornbusch, Sally Lyons, et al. “Stable and transient structural variation in lemur vaginal, labial and axillary microbiomes: patterns by species, body site, ovarian hormones and forest access.” Fems Microbiology Ecology, vol. 96, no. 6, June 2020. Epmc, doi:10.1093/femsec/fiaa090. Full Text
Greene, Lydia K., et al. “The importance of scale in comparative microbiome research: New insights from the gut and glands of captive and wild lemurs.” American Journal of Primatology, vol. 81, no. 10–11, Oct. 2019, p. e22974. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajp.22974. Full Text
Grebe, Nicholas M., et al. “Organizational and activational androgens, lemur social play, and the ontogeny of female dominance.” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 115, Sept. 2019, p. 104554. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2019.07.002. Full Text Open Access Copy
Grogan, Kathleen E., et al. “Genetic variation at MHC class II loci influences both olfactory signals and scent discrimination in ring-tailed lemurs.” Bmc Evolutionary Biology, vol. 19, no. 1, Aug. 2019, p. 171. Epmc, doi:10.1186/s12862-019-1486-0. Full Text
Greene, Lydia K., et al. “Local habitat, not phylogenetic relatedness, predicts gut microbiota better within folivorous than frugivorous lemur lineages.” Biology Letters, vol. 15, no. 6, June 2019, p. 20190028. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsbl.2019.0028. Full Text
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, p. 14482. 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, p. 180435. Epmc, doi:10.1098/rsos.180435. Full Text
Bornbusch, Sally L., et al. “Glandular microbiomes vary by species and host traits in wild and captive lemurs.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 25–25.
Drea, Christine M. “Social Communication of Condition-Dependent Olfactory Signals in Strepsirrhine Primates.” Chemical Senses, vol. 43, no. 4, OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2018, pp. E7–E7.
Drea, Christine M., et al. “Pee-mail: The information highway of nocturnal strepsirrhines.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 71–72.
Bornbusch, Sally L., et al. “Anthropogenic disturbance as a determinant of gut microbiome structure in Madagascar's ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta).” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 33–33.
Grebe, Nicholas M., and Christine M. Drea. “Ontogeny of female dominance in ring-tailed lemurs: behavioral and hormonal evidence.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 104–104.
Greene, Lydia K., et al. “Dietary foliage regulates the gut microbiome and colonic metabolome of captive Coquerel's sifakas.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 105–105.
Gorvetzian, Sarah R., et al. “Free-ranging access improves the gut microbiome of captive Eulemur.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 103–103.
Drea, Christine M. “Condition-dependent Scent Signals in Strepsirrhine Primates.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 162, WILEY, 2017, pp. 165–66.
Smyth, K. N., et al. “Consequences of Prenatal Androgen Exposure for Offspring Health: an Experimental Study in Wild Meerkats.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 57, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2017, pp. E158–E158.
Harris, R. L., and C. M. Drea. “In Sickness and In Health: Olfactory Cues of Injury and Illness in Lemurs.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 57, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2017, pp. E284–E284.