When Ed Wilson was working on Sociobiology in the early 1970s, he used to joke that having mastered the more difficult literature on the social insects for his Insect Societies (1971), he thought it would be easy to master the less impressive literature on vertebrate social behavior and therefore treat the whole subject together. Of course, there was the usual asymmetry: students of the social insects usually knew a lot about vertebrate behavior, but students of vertebrates rarely knew anything about social insects beyond thefamouswaggle dance of honey bees. It was kinship theory that brought the social insects to the attention of many other biologists, because when Hamilton outlined his theory in 1964, the best evidence came from the haplodiploid Hymenoptera. What was true then is still true now. For detailed tests of kinship theory, for precise measurements of degrees of relatedness, for a host of advances in understanding the interaction with sex ratio, the social insects provide the most detailed and extensive comparative data available.
There is a very extensive literature now on the subject, with major comparative studies available for various sugroups, e.g., vespine wasps (Foster and Ratnieks 2001). To illustrate the sophistication of this literature here are a few recent titles, dealing only with wasps, and mostly the work of only one group of scientists:
“Insurance-based advantage to helpers in a tropical hover wasp” (Field et al. 2000) “Conflicts of interest in social insects: Male production in two species of Polistes” (Arevallo et al. 1998) “Kin selection, relatedness, and worker control of reproduction in a largecolony epiponine wasp” (Hastings et al. 1998) “Control of reproduction in social insect colonies: Individual and collective relatedness preferences in the paper wasp, Polistes annularis” (Queller et al. 1997) “Lack of kin discrimination during wasp colony fission” (Solis et al. 1998) “Colony life history and demography of a swarm-founding social wasp” (Strassmann et al. 1997)
For an excellent review of the general subject of kinship and sex allocation in social insects, see Crozier and Pamilo (1996). For ants, see Bourke and Franks (1995). For recent work on slave-making ants, see Herbers and Stuart (1998); for social parasitism in ants, Aron, Passera, and Keller (1999). For the importance of parasites in selecting for colony genetic diversity, see Liersch and Schmid-Hempel (1998), Baer and Schmid-Hempel (1999), and Schmid-Hempel 1994). The best way to gain access to the latest work is to do a “cited reference search” for Trivers and Hare (1976) on a computer search engine. On Web of Science, this will spit forth almost 600 references, in reverse chronological order.