A major challenge facing conservation biology today is predicting how often species will be able to adapt to environmental change. We need to know which, and under what environmental conditions, ecologically important traits are likely to evolve and keep species in the evolutionary game. Conservation biologists currently lack enough data across a broad range of traits and taxa to address this problem, which impedes the development of scenarios of possible adaptive management responses. Here I outline how trait-based data and methods that palaeobiologists use to address the long-term dynamics of evolving lineages can be applied to address this challenge. We need an impassioned community-wide effort to view evolutionary stasis with an ecological lens.