Date of Award

Fall 2011

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources: Forestry

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Scott Ollinger


A correlation between canopy nitrogen and albedo has been observed across a wide range of forest types. Determining the nature and mechanisms behind the relationship would help to understand the role of nitrogen in the climate system and better understand forest-climate interactions. The purpose of this study was to examine sources of variation in leaf and canopy optical traits with respect to variation in nitrogen concentrations at both scales.

We found that %N was significantly correlated with leaf and canopy albedo and that both %N and albedo were strongly correlated with forest composition. Many canopy structural traits were found to correlate with each other, as well as with canopy %N and albedo. We hypothesize that a combination of canopy structural attributes are responsible for the correlation between canopy %N and albedo, partially due to their effect on the photon recollision probability.