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

Delbarco-Trillo, J, Burkert, BA, Goodwin, TE, and Drea, CM. "Night and day: the comparative study of strepsirrhine primates reveals socioecological and phylogenetic patterns in olfactory signals." Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24.1 (January 2011): 82-98. Full Text

Crawford, JC, Boulet, M, and Drea, CM. "Smelling wrong: hormonal contraception in lemurs alters critical female odour cues." Proceedings. Biological Sciences 278.1702 (January 2011): 122-130. Full Text

Charpentier, MJE, Crawford, JC, Boulet, M, and Drea, CM. "Message ‘scent’: lemurs detect the genetic relatedness and quality of conspecifics via olfactory cues." Animal Behaviour 80.1 (July 2010): 101-108. Full Text

Boulet, M, Crawford, JC, Charpentier, MJE, and Drea, CM. "Honest olfactory ornamentation in a female-dominant primate." Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23.7 (July 2010): 1558-1563. Full Text

Burkert, BA, Broederdorf, LJ, Hirwa, IH, Waldrip, ZJ, Goodwin, TE, and Drea, CM. "Mammalian chemical communication: Comparative investigation of urinary signals in prosimian primates." ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY 239 (March 21, 2010).

Starling, AP, Charpentier, MJE, Fitzpatrick, C, Scordato, ES, and Drea, CM. "Seasonality, sociality, and reproduction: Long-term stressors of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)." Horm Behav 57.1 (January 2010): 76-85. Full Text

Boulet, M, Charpentier, MJE, and Drea, CM. "Decoding an olfactory mechanism of kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance in a primate." Bmc Evolutionary Biology 9 (December 3, 2009): 281-null. Full Text Open Access Copy

Crawford, JC, Charpentier, MJE, Boulet, M, and Drea, CM. "Lemurs Discriminate the Scent of Conspecifics Based on Individual Heterozygosity and Pairwise Relatedness." INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY 49 (February 2009): E41-E41.

Leonhardt, SD, Tung, J, Camden, JB, Leal, M, and Drea, CM. "Seeing red: Behavioral evidence of trichromatic color vision in strepsirrhine primates." Behavioral Ecology 20.1 (2009): 1-12. Full Text

Drea, CM. "Endocrine mediators of masculinization in female mammals." Current Directions in Psychological Science 18.4 (2009): 221-226. Full Text