Evaluating Impact Using Time-Series Data

Humanity's impact on the environment is increasing, as are strategies to conserve biodiversity, but a lack of understanding about how interventions affect ecological and conservation outcomes hampers decision-making. Time series are often used to assess impacts, but ecologists tend to compare average values from before to after an impact; overlooking the potential for the intervention to elicit a change in trend. Without methods that allow for a range of responses, erroneous conclusions can be drawn, especially for large, multi-time-series datasets, which are increasingly available. Drawing on literature in other disciplines and pioneering work in ecology, we present a standardised framework to robustly assesses how interventions, like natural disasters or conservation policies, affect ecological time series.