Line Insertion Techniques for the Study of High Forest Canopies


canopy access
line insertion
tropical rain forest

How to Cite

Ellwood, M. D., & Foster, W. A. (2001). Line Insertion Techniques for the Study of High Forest Canopies. Selbyana, 22(1), 97–102. Retrieved from


Line insertion is an essential prerequisite for most canopy studies. The height of the lowest branch often precludes the insertion of lines manually; in such cases, the lines must be fired into the canopy. We define the problems associated with this procedure and explain in detail a method for line insertion that we have developed during work on epiphytes growing on the world's tallest rain forest trees (in Sabah, Malaysia). A crossbow proved to be the most effective device for projecting a missile into the high canopy. Branch heights can be measured quickly and precisely using a laser range finder. Significant arrow modifications, including brass tips and a new line attachment system, greatly improved flight performance and accuracy. A high velocity casting reel prevents the line from snapping as it is fired. Low memory line resists the formation of knots and tangles. We conclude with a detailed explanation of a technique for repositioning the line from the ground.


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