Date of Award

Fall 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Scott V Ollinger


Rapidly rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO 2) influence forest productivity by stimulating plant growth. It can also modify carbon partitioning patterns, altering the global carbon cycle. Nitrogen and carbon cycles are tightly linked; with changes in nitrogen availability affecting ecosystem carbon allocation by shifting carbon to roots for nitrogen uptake. This paper discusses a modification to the PnET-CN model (Aber et al. 1997) developed to shift plant carbon allocation belowground in response to nitrogen limitation. According to functional equilibrium models of plant carbon allocation, a nitrogen control mechanism alters belowground carbon estimates by increasing carbon allocation to fine roots when nitrogen resources are low. Testing of the modified mechanism with data from three free-air CO 2 enrichment (FACE) forests supported the mechanism by allocating more carbon to fine roots. Application of the model with data from five northeastern forests, under a variety of global climate change scenarios, also supported the modified mechanism with an increase in soil carbon storage.