Bill Piel has created a cool tool for creating KMZ files of phylogenies for Google Earth. From the web site:
One of the components of the CIPRES project is the development of TreeBASE II — a robust, scalable, and versatile re-design and re-engineering of TreeBASE. As part of this project, we are exploring other ways of browsing and visualizing trees. Google Earth is a fantastic 3-D browser for exploring geographic resources and has the potential to be a useful and fun tool for delivering biological information with a geographic component.
Google Earth (available for Windows and Mac OS X) is opening up all sorts of possibilities for biodiversity informatics (ants being one of the first examples). What is cool about Bill's work is that it departs from simple locality records.
As always, after pausing to say "wow", there are all sorts of things that one could think of adding. For example, some trees are clearer than others, due to how well the geography and trees match. I wonder if this could be used as a measure of how well geography "explains" the tree. For example, simple vicariance or serial dispersal would have few cross-overs, a history of dispersal (or an old pattern with extinction, or if geography has changed) might be messier. Perhaps there is a metric that could be developed for this. It strikes me as similar in spirit to trees for tandem duplications -- there's a nice spatial (albeit it linear) order in a tree if the sequences are tandem duplications.
If the trees had dated nodes (i.e., were "chronograms"), presumably this could be used to compute node heights, so you'd be able to have chronograms. Sort of a reverse onion, the layers getting older as you go out. People could then see whether biogeographic patterns were of a similar age. This adds a spatial dimension to chronograms (see an earlier post on the analogy between genome browsers and chronograms).
As an aside, and because I was once a panbiogeography enthusiast, why haven't panbiogeographers leap on Google Earth as a tool to display "tracks"? If ever there was an opportunity to drag that movement out of the doldrums, this is it.