The vast expanses of the cordgrass, S. alterniflora, in the marshes of Sapelo Island so impress the scientist as well as the casual viewer, that early workers assumed this species was the only significant primary producer. Indeed, the first studies supported this view. By the early 1960s production of Spartina leaves and stems had been measured and found to be among the most productive natural plant populations (Teal, 1962). The golden-brown layer of diatoms on the creek banks and marsh surface was also found to contribute significantly to primary production, albeit its production was just a small fraction of that of the grass (Pomeroy, 1959). However, early measurements indicated that phytoplankton production was trivial (Ragotzkie, 1959).
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