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The purple swamphen has been split into the following species:
- Western swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio, southwest Europe and northwest Africa
- African swamphen, Porphyrio madagascariensis, sub-Saharan continental Africa and Madagascar
- Grey-headed swamphen, Porphyrio poliocephalus, Middle East, through the Indian subcontinent to southern China and northern Thailand
- Black-backed swamphen, Porphyrio indicus, southeast Asia to Sulawesi
- Philippine swamphen, Porphyrio pulverulentus, Philippine islands
- Australasian swamphen, Porphyrio melanotus, Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania
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