We have used subpicosecond time-resolved photoluminescence (TRPL) downconversion techniques to study the interplay of carrier localization and radiative and nonradiative processes in the active regions of light emitting III-nitride semiconductor ultraviolet optical sources, with the goal of identifying potential approaches that will lead to higher radiative efficiency. Comparison of TRPL in (In)AlGaN multiple quantum well active regions indicate that for addition of only 0.01 In content the PL decay time in an InAlGaN MQW is more than double that in an AlGaN MQW designed to emit at the same wavelength (360 nm), thus indicating the importance of indium for improvement of material quality, most likely through the suppression of point defects. This result is further underscored by TRPL data on 320 nm InAlGaN MQW active regions, which exhibit longer PL lifetimes than expected for growth on GaN templates with dislocation densities in the mid-108cm-2 range. While the PL lifetimes in these InAlGaN MQWs improve for growth on lower dislocation density HVPE bulk GaN substrates, a similar phenomenon is not observed for deposition on nearly dislocation-free bulk AlN substrates, suggesting that defect generation in the MQWs associated with lattice mismatch or AlN surface preparation may play an important role. The pump intensity dependence of the time zero signal and the TRPL decays in the MQWs implies that internal electric field-induced recombination through the barriers and interface states plays an important role in the radiative efficiency of quantum well active regions for c-axis oriented materials and devices. The effect of these internal electric fields can be mitigated through the use of nonpolar MQWs. The combination of more intense time-integrated PL spectra and shorter PL lifetimes with decreasing well width in GaN/AlGaN MQWs grown on a-plane LEO GaN for low pump intensity suggests that the radiative lifetime becomes shorter due to the accompanying increase in exciton binding energy and oscillator strength at smaller well width in these high quality samples. Finally, it is demonstrated that compositional fluctuations in AlGaN active regions grown by plasma-assisted MBE can be employed to create spatial localization that enhances the luminescence efficiency and PL lifetime (300-400 ps) despite high defect density (>1010cm-2) by inhibiting movement of carriers to nonradiative sites. Significant enhancement of this phenomenon has been obtained in a DH LED structure grown on a lower defect density (mid-109cm-2) AlGaN template, with PL lifetime increased by nearly a factor of two, corresponding to a defect density in the mid-107 cm-2 range, and only a 3.3 times drop in PL intensity when the temperature is raised from 12 K to room temperature, suggesting up to ~ 30% internal quantum efficiency.