Ecometrics is the quantitative study of functional traits at the community level, and the environmental sorting of those traits at regional and continental scales. Functional traits are properties of organisms that have a direct physical or physiological relationship to an underlying quality of the environment, which in turn has indirect links to broader environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, elevation, atmospheric composition, or sea level. When the same environmental factor affects the performance of many taxa, ecometric sorting is the result. Ecometric patterns in trait distributions across space and through time are therefore a product of biogeographic sorting, evolution, and extinction driven by changes in Earth systems. We review concepts associated with ecometrics, with examples that illustrate how trait-based approaches differ from taxon-based methods, how ecometrics can be used to study Earth-life transitions in the fossil record, and how ecometrics can be used to compare Earth-life transitions that differ in temporal or geographic scale. This paper focuses on the climatic and biome changes of the Great Plains of North America during the Miocene, when grasslands came to be the dominant vegetation type, and of the Anthropocene of the American Midwest, which saw extensive landscape changes in the nineteenth century.