Recent molecular analyses found this species to be sister to L. auriceps, the two forming a clade with L. mahrattensis#R. Previously thought to be related to Dendrocopos atratus and D. macei, but no real evidence; superficial similarity to D. leucotos may have suggested possible relationship, although not supported by genetic data. Variation largely clinal, e.g. nominate race becoming darker with flank streaking more pronounced towards S, and races rather poorly differentiated; anatoliae possibly inseparable from caucasicus#R; other named races are lilianae (NW Spain), splendidior (SE Europe to Greece and Turkey) and laubmanni (S Transcaucasia), all regarded as unacceptable. Four subspecies recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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