Understanding the effect of land use/land cover (LULC) on water quality is essential for environmental improvement, especially in urban areas. This study examined the relationship between LULC at buffer-zone scales and water quality in a lakeside city near Poyang Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in China. Representative indicators were selected by factor analysis to characterize the water quality in the study area, and then the association between LULC and water quality over space and time was quantified by redundancy analysis. The results indicated that the influence of LULC on water quality is scale-dependent. In general, the LULC could explain from 56.9% to 31.6% of the variation in water quality at six buffer zones (from 500 m to 1800 m). Forest land had a positive effect on water quality among most buffer zones, while construction land and bare land affected the representative water quality indicators negatively within the 1200 m and 1500 m buffer zones, respectively. There was also a seasonal variation in the relationship between LULC and water quality. The closest connection between them appeared at the 1000 m buffer zone in the dry season, whereas there was no significant difference among the buffer zones in the wet season. The results suggest the importance of considering buffer-zone scales in assessing the impacts of LULC on water quality in urban lakeshore areas.
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