The community structure of benthic diatoms and water environmental characteristics were extensively investigated to assess the aquatic ecosystem health of the Wutong River (Heilongjiang Province, China). Several diatom indices were calculated, and a benthic diatom index based on biotic integrity (BD-IBI) was developed. Principal component analysis (PCA), Spearman correlation analysis (CA), cluster analysis, redundancy analysis (RDA), and the box plot analysis were used to analyze the benthic diatom communities, assess the river ecosystem health, and compare the applicability of different indexes. The results indicated that Gomphonema parvulum
and other tolerant species were the dominant species. Meanwhile, most sites were in “poor” or “very poor” condition according to the diatom indexes evaluation, indicating that the river has been disturbed by human activities. The sampling sites of the Wutong River were divided into three groups based on different pollution levels. The derived BD-IBI included four individual metrics of different aspects, showed strong distinguishability for three grouping and robust correlation with environmental variables. Of all the indexes selected, IBI performed the best, followed by the species-level diatom indexes and the genus-level diatom indexes.
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