Ecologists traditionally regard time as part of the background against which ecological interactions play out. In Time in Ecology, Eric Post argues that time should be treated as a resource used by organisms for growth, maintenance, and offspring production.
Post uses insights from phenology – the study of the timing of life-cycle events – to present a theoretical framework of time in ecology that casts long-standing observations in the field in an entirely new light. Combining conceptual models with field data, he demonstrates how phenological advances, delays, and stasis, documented in an array of taxa, can all be viewed as adaptive components of an organism's strategic use of time. Post shows how the allocation of time by individual organisms to critical life history stages is not only a response to environmental cues but also an important driver of interactions at the population, species, and community levels.
To demonstrate the applications of this exciting new conceptual framework, Time in Ecology uses meta-analyses of previous studies as well as Post's original data on the phenological dynamics of plants, caribou, and muskoxen in Greenland.
Eric Post is professor of climate change ecology and fellow of the John Muir Institute at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Ecology of Climate Change: The Importance of Biotic Interactions (Princeton) and the coeditor of Wildlife Conservation in a Changing Climate.
"Eric Post poses the view that time is a resource, and that reframing our thinking in this way is essential to understanding how evolution and ecology influence the varied responses of species to environmental changes. Join him on this journey of exploration and discover the important role that time plays in shaping the interactions of species with the world around them."
– Heidi Steltzer, Fort Lewis College
"A gem of a book! Post presents compelling theory and credible, concrete examples that demonstrate the ecological role of time as a limiting resource. This work will undoubtedly shape the future of phenological research for years to come."
– Andrew Richardson, Northern Arizona University
"Global climate trends are changing the well understood abiotic phenological triggers such as photoperiod, thermal limits, and seasonal rainfall. In this provocative book, Post adds an additional variable, time, in a novel way to interpret observed variations in life history responses of plants and animals. His exploration of the added influence of timing of life history stages is compelling and challenging."
– Steven W. Running, University of Montana
"Post argues that time is a resource used by organisms to perpetuate their genes. Changes in the use of the time-space continuum will determine the response of species and communities to rapid and dramatic changes in nature wrought by humans. This book offers a provocative new way to look at how and why species change their use of time and space."
– William H. Schlesinger, president emeritus, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
"Post's book makes a significant contribution both as a compendium of some of his long-term data and a presentation of some novel perspectives on phenology."
– David William Inouye, coauthor of Techniques for Pollination Biologists
"Every once in a while, someone comes along and changes how we think by revealing something that has been hidden in plain sight. Using an engaging narrative, Eric Post has done just that. His new concept of an ecological space-time continuum will fundamentally enhance our ability to make sense of the contingency in species life-history strategies and associated ecological functioning that we see in nature."
– Oswald J. Schmitz, author of The New Ecology: Rethinking a Science for the Anthropocene