Empirical studies suggest that the structural heterogeneity of aquatic ecosystem microhabitat is determined by the diversity and abundance of macrophytes. However, excessive accumulation of free-floating macrophytes on the water surface can reduce the biomass of submerged macrophytes, resulting in a relatively simplified habitat structure. We hypothesized that heavy summer rainfall disrupts the growth of free-floating macrophytes covering much of the Jangcheok Reservoir’s water surface, thereby resulting in a more complex habitat structure by allowing development of a more diverse of macrophytic community. We divided long-term (2008–2017) monitoring data (rainfall, macrophytes, and rotifers) into two groups: Rainy and Dry years, corresponding to years with annual rainfall higher and lower than the total annual average, respectively. We found that summer densities of rotifers fell sharply in Rainy years, but increased continuously in Dry years. This trend resulted in greater autumn densities in Rainy relative to Dry years, which we attributed to changes in habitat related to differential macrophyte development. Moderate disturbance of the water surface caused by high summer rainfall can promote growth of submerged macrophytes by creating large areas of open water and therefore a more complex autumnal microhabitat structure, resulting in seasonal variations in rotifer community structures and populations. Moreover, a highly complex microhabitat structure restricts foraging activity of fish (i.e., Lepomis macrochirus
) that prey on rotifers. Based on these findings, we suggest that summer-concentrated rainfall plays an important role in supporting the density and species diversity of rotifers.
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