Time is of the essence in ecology. Indeed, approaches to understand the mechanisms that underpin ecological systems and predict their trends can greatly benefit from the explicit consideration of time (Franklin, 1989; Lindenmayer et al., 2012; Taig-Johnston et al., 2017). Ecological systems are constantly being affected by environmental drivers characterised by temporal regimes, such as droughts or heatwaves (e.g. Avgar et al., 2013; Bowler et al., 2018; Stevens et al., 2012). As the moments (e.g. mean, variance, skewness) of these environmental drivers continue to change, more extreme, unpredictable environmental events are being recorded globally (IPCC, 2021). Deciphering how such extreme environments may be pushing natural systems outside of the conditions under which they evolved, and potentially causing local extinctions (Suhonen et al., 2010) or community collapses (Barendregt et al., 2022) is an urgent task for ecologists. The rapid loss of species means that ecologists are working against the clock to understand their roles in nature (Wilson, 2017) and are considering ways to reverse the on-going pattern of decline. Ultimately, this is one of the most important tasks we can perform, as species loss means the loss of the essential ecosystem functions and services they provide (Diaz et al., 2018). Thus, time is of the essence to better understand and forecast the dynamics of ecological systems.
We acknowledge Dr Sidnie Manton for her inspirational work and long-lasting legacies to the discipline.