Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Purple swamphens eat pest insects in crop areas. They also hunt and kill rats and stoats.
Because they are the closest relatives of endangered takahes (Porphyrio hochstetteri and Porphyrio mantelli), purple swamphens are valuable research animals for takahe conservation. One problem plaguing takahe is their low fertility rates. Gunn et al. (2008) performed experiments to find out what was the best method to retrieve sperm from purple swamphens. Perfecting artificial insemination in swamphens may make it easier to help takahe with their breeding needs. Purple swamphens may also be valuable as potential foster parents to takahe. Unlike purple swamphens, takahe do not possess good responses to terrestrial predators. This lack of response has caused serious declines in their populations since the introductions of mammalian predators. Bunin and Jamieson (1996) took one takahe chick and placed it with purple swamphens. This cross-fostered chicks grew up to display swamphen responses, including increased vigilance and tail flicking.
Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population
- Gunn, M., Z. Champion, M. Casey, P. Teal, P. Casey. 2008. Testicular and spermatozoan parameters in the pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus). Animal Reproduction Science, 109: 330-342.
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