To reveal the effects of water diversion from the Yangtze River to Lake Taihu on the phytoplankton habitat of the main water transfer channel of the Wangyu River, we investigated the water’s physicochemical parameters and phytoplankton communities during the water diversion and non-diversion periods over the winters between 2014–2016, respectively. During the water diversion periods in the winter of 2014 and 2015, the nutrients and organic pollutant contents of the Wangyu River channel were significantly lower than those during the non-diversion period in 2016. Moreover, the phytoplankton diversities and relative proportions of Bacillariophyta during the diversion periods evidently increased during the water diversion periods in winter. The increase in the water turbidity content, the decrease in the contents of the permanganate index, and the total phosphorus explained only 21.4% of the variations in the phytoplankton communities between the diversion and non-diversion periods in winter, which revealed significant contributions of the allochthonous species from the Yangtze River and tributaries of the Wangyu River to phytoplankton communities in the Wangyu River. The increasing gradient in the contents of nutrients and organic pollutants from the Yangtze River to Lake Taihu indicated the potential allochthonous pollutant inputs along with the Wangyu River. Further controlling the pollutants from the tributaries of the Wangyu River is critical in order to improve the phytoplankton habitats in river channels and Lake Taihu.
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