Campus Directory: Matthew Letts

University of Lethbridge

Matthew Letts
Arts & Science, Dean's Office
Office: A560A (University Hall)
Phone: (403) 329-5101
Geography and Environment Dept
Office: A560A (University Hall)
Phone: (403) 329-5101


Ph.D., King's College London (2003)
M.Sc., McGill (1998)
B.Sc.(Hons.), Queen's University (1995)
B.A., Queen's University (1994)


Ecophysiology, microclimatology, ecohydrology, grasslands, riparian ecosystems, alpine environments, Latin America

Alternate Languages

Spanish and French


Prof. Matthew G. Letts serves as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. Matt has been a member of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Lethbridge since 2003. He has served as Associate Dean since 2012 and concurrently as as Academic Program Director of the Destination Project (2016-19), the first phase of which is a spectacular science and academic facility, now known as Science Commons. Matt previously served as Interim Associate Vice-President Research (2014-15) for a period of 20 months, and as Coordinator of the Environmental Science Program (2010-12). Before joining the University of Lethbridge, Matt was a Lecturer at Trent University (2001-03).

Research Interests

Matt has broad training in Geography, Ecology and Environmental Science, and has led an NSERC and Alberta Innovates-funded research program in plant ecophysiological acclimation to environmental stress. The techniques employed in his ecology research include photosynthesis and fluorescence measurement, remote sensing and stable isotope analysis. To test his plant stress ecology theories, Matt has worked in riparian woodlands, semiarid grasslands and subalpine forests of southern Alberta, as well as northern peatlands, Mediterranean forests of Europe and tropical montane cloud forests of South America. In addition to plant ecophysiology, he has research experience in the fields of Biogeochemistry, Microclimatology and Hydrological Modelling. A list of key publications is found, below.


Matt has taught the following courses at the University of Lethbridge:

Introduction to Physical Geography (Geography 1000)
Introduction to Geography (Geography 1010)
Weather and Climate (Geography 2015/2300)
Fundamentals of Environmental Science (Environmental Science 2000)
Microclimatology (Geography 3015/5015/3300/5300)
Soils (Geography 3080)
Biogeography (Geography 3090)

Matt also enjoys supervising graduate and undergraduate students in the fields of plant ecology, ecophysiology and microclimatology.

Selected Publications

Letts, M.G., N.T. Roulet, N.T. Comer, M.R. Skarupa & D.L. Verseghy. Parametrization of peatland hydraulic properties for the Canadian Land Surface Scheme. Chapter 7 in Han, G., Lin, H. and D. Steyn. 2019. Data, Models and Analysis: The Highest Impact Articles in Atmosphere-Ocean. CMOS, Routledge, New York, 242 p.

Kaluthota, S., D.W. Pearce, L.M. Evans, M.G. Letts, T.G. Whitham & S.B. Rood. 2015. Higher photosynthetic capacity from higher latitude: foliar characteristics and gas exchange of southern, central and northern populations of Populus angustifolia.Tree Physiology. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpv069

Jezik, M., M. Blazenek, M.G. Letts, L. Ditmarova, Z. Sitkova & K. Strelcova. 2014. Assessing seasonal drought stress response in Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) by monitoring stem circumference and sap flow. Ecohydrology. doi: 10.1002/eco.1536

Rodríguez-Calcerrada, J., M.G. Letts, V. Rolo, S. Roset & S. Rambal. 2013. Multiyear impacts of partial throughfall exclusion on Buxus sempervirens in a Mediterranean forest. Forest Systems. 22(2):202-213

Flanagan LB, EJ Sharp & MG Letts. 2013. Response of plant biomass and soil respiration to experimental warming and precipitation manipulation in a northern Great Plains grassland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 173(5):40-52

Rood SB, DJ Ball, KM Gill, S Kaluthota, MG Letts & DW Pearce. 2013. Hydrologic linkages between a climate oscillation, river flows, growth, and wood Δ13C of male and female cottonwood trees. Plant Cell & Environment. 36(5):984-993

Letts MG, J Rodriguez-Calcerrada, V Rolo & S Rambal. 2012. Long-term physiological and morphological acclimation by the evergreen shrub Buxus sempervirens L. to understory and canopy gap light intensities. Trees. 26(2):479-491

Martin StPaul NK, J-M Limousin, J Rodriguez-Calcerrada, J Ruffault, S Rambal, MG Letts & L Misson. 2012. Photosynthetic sensitivity to drought varies among populations of Quercus ilex along a rainfall gradient. Functional Plant Biology. 39(1): 25-37

Larson RP, JM Byrne, DL Johnson, MG Letts & SW Kienzle. 2011. Modelling climate change impacts on spring runoff for the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Alberta I. Model development, calibration and historical analysis. Canadian Water Resources Journal. 36(1): 17-34

Larson RP, JM Byrne, DL Johnson, SW Kienzle & MG Letts. 2011. Modelling climate change impacts on spring runoff for the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Alberta II. Runoff change projections using future scenarios. Canadian Water Resources Journal. 36(1): 35-52

Nielsen JL, SB Rood, DW Pearce, MG Letts & H Jiskoot. 2010. Streamside trees: responses of male, female and hybrid cottonwoods to flooding. Tree Physiology. 30(12): 1479-1488

Letts MG, DRE Johnson & CA Coburn. 2010. Drought stress ecophysiology of shrub and grass functional groups on opposing slope aspects of a temperate grassland valley. Botany. 88(9):850-866

Misson L, J-M Limousin, R Rodriguez & MG Letts. 2010. Leaf physiological responses to extreme drought in a Mediterranean Quercus ilex forest. Plant Cell & Environment. 33(11):1898-1910

Rood SB, JL Nielsen, L Shenton, KM Gill & MG Letts. 2010. Effects of flooding on leaf development, transpiration and photosynthesis in narrowleaf cottonwood, a willow-like poplar. Photosynthesis Research 104(1): 31-39

Letts MG, M Mulligan, ME Rincón-Romero & LA Bruijnzeel. 2010. Environmental controls on photosynthetic rates of lower montane cloud forest vegetation in south-western Colombia. pp. 465-478 in: LA Bruijnzeel, FN Scatena, & LS Hamilton (eds.) Tropical Montane Cloud Forests. UNESCO International Hydrology Series, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK

Letts MG, KN Nakonechny, KE Van Gaalen & CM Smith. 2009. Physiological acclimation of Pinus flexilis to drought stress on contrasting slope aspects in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39(3): 629-641

Letts MG, LB Flanagan, KE Van Gaalen & DRE Johnson. 2009. Interspecific differences in photosynthetic gas exchange characteristics and acclimation to soil moisture stress among shrubs of a semiarid grassland. Ecoscience 16(1): 125-137

Letts MG, CA Phelan, DRE Johnson & SB Rood. 2008. Seasonal photosynthetic gas exchange and leaf reflectance characteristics of male and female cottonwoods in a riparian woodland. Tree Physiology. 28(7): 1037-1048

Letts MG, PM Lafleur & NT Roulet. 2005. On the relationship between cloudiness and net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange in a peatland ecosystem. Ecoscience. 12(1): 53-59

Letts MG & M Mulligan. 2005. The impact of light quality and leaf wetness on photosynthesis in north-west Andean tropical montane cloud forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 21(5): 549-557

Letts MG. 2003. Carbon Assimilation and Productivity in a Northwest Andean Tropical Montane Cloud Forest. Ph.D. thesis, King's College London. 352 p.

Letts MG, NT Roulet, NT Comer, MR Skarupa & DL Verseghy. 2000. Parametrization of peatland hydraulic properties for the Canadian Land Surface Scheme. Atmosphere-Ocean. 38(1): 141-160

Comer, NT, PM Lafleur, NT Roulet, MG Letts & MR Skarupa. 2000. A Test of the Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS) for a variety of wetland types. Atmosphere-Ocean. 38(1): 161-179

Current Research and Creative Activity

TitleLocationGrant InformationPrincipal InvestigatorCo Researchers
Functional flows: a practical strategy for healthy rivers Canada Alberta Innovates (AI-EES) Water Resources (2013-2016).

SB Rood
Plant physiological response to environmental stress in semiarid ecosystems Canada NSERC Discovery Grant (2011-2016).

MG Letts

Previous Research

TitleGrant AgencyCompletion Date
Spatial and seasonal patterns of plant physiological acclimation to environmental stress National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant 2009
Source water and snowpack analysis of a north-south gradient of Rocky Mountain watersheds using remote sensing and topoclimatic indices Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Water Research (AICWR) 2009
Remote sensing of environmental dynamics in riparian cottonwood forests of southern Alberta Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Water Research (AICWR) 2009
Equipment funds - LI-COR 6400-XTR Portable Photosynthesis System, Leaf Area Meter and Weather Station Western Economic Diversification Canada 2008
Equipment funds - Weather stations NSERC Research Tools and Instruments Grant 2005
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in Mountain Catchments of the Americas International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (IRIACC) Project Development Funds 2010
Impacts of short- and long-term drought on photosynthetic water-use strategies of Quercus ilex L. forests in southern France University of Lethbridge Research Fund (ULRF) 2011

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