© 2022 Elsevier B.V.It is well-established that environmental variability and cyanobacterial blooms have major effects on the assembly and functioning of bacterial communities in both marine and freshwater habitats. It remains unclear, however, how the ciliate community responds to such changes over the long-term, particularly in subtropical lake and reservoir ecosystems. We analysed 9-year planktonic ciliate data series from the surface water of two subtropical reservoirs to elucidate the role of cyanobacterial bloom and environmental variabilities on the ciliate temporal dynamics. We identified five distinct periods of cyanobacterial succession in both reservoirs. Using multiple time-scale analyses, we found that the interannual variability of ciliate communities was more strongly related to cyanobacterial blooms than to other environmental variables or to seasonality. Moreover, the percentage of species turnover across cyanobacterial bloom and non-bloom periods increased significantly with time over the 9-year period. Phylogenetic analyses further indicated that 84 %–86 % of ciliate community turnover was governed by stochastic dispersal limitation or undominated processes, suggesting that the ciliate communities in subtropical reservoirs were mainly controlled by neutral processes. However, short-term blooms increased the selection pressure and drove 30 %–53 % of the ciliate community turnover. We found that the ciliate community composition was influenced by environmental conditions with nutrients, cyanobacterial biomass and microzooplankton having direct and/or indirect significant effects on the ciliate taxonomic or functional community dynamics. Our results provide new insights into the long-term temporal dynamics of planktonic ciliate communities under cyanobacterial bloom disturbance.