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Great Sandy–Tanami desert

Coordinates: 21°06′54″S 127°11′33″E / 21.115°S 127.1925°E / -21.115; 127.1925
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Great Sandy-Tanami desert
Tanami desert, Australia
Ecoregion territory (in purple)
Biomedeserts and xeric shrublands
Area823,784 km2 (318,065 sq mi)
Conservation statusRelatively stable/intact
Protected260,900 km² (32%)[1]
Centrailian-Bluetongue-skink in the Tanami Desert
Little Sandy Desert

The Great Sandy-Tanami desert is a ecoregion of Western Australia extending into the Northern Territory. It is designated as a World Wildlife Fund region.[2][3][4][5]

Location and description


This very large ecoregion consists of the Little Sandy Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Tanami, and Davenport Murchison Ranges Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) regions.[6][7] The landscape is desert sands with areas of wooded steppe and shrubby grassland. The Great Sandy Desert is a large area of red desert sand dunes, while the Tanami Desert to the east is flat sand broken up with areas of hills. One prominent landmark in the region is the large sandstone rock Uluru. The climate is hot and dry and the area is mostly uninhabited.



The vegetation is very thin and consists of spinifex grass and saltbush shrubs that are adapted to the desert conditions. There are also occasional acacias and desert oaks.



Much of the wildlife of this hot climate is nocturnal including the rabbit-sized marsupial the Bilby and the Rufous hare-wallabies of the Tanami Desert. The wildlife of these deserts includes communities of wild camels, descendants of animals brought here as transport in earlier times.

Protected areas


Protected areas in the ecoregion include Iytwelepenty / Davenport Range National Park, Karlamilyi National Park, and Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.


  1. ^ Eric Dinerstein, David Olson, et al. (2017). An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm, BioScience, Volume 67, Issue 6, June 2017, Pages 534–545; Supplemental material 2 table S1b. [1]
  2. ^ "Great Sandy-Tanami desert". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  3. ^ "Map of Ecoregions 2017". Resolve. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Great Sandy-Tanami desert". Digital Observatory for Protected Areas. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Great Sandy-Tanami desert". The Encyclopedia of Earth. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  6. ^ Environment Australia. "Revision of the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) and Development of Version 5.1 - Summary Report". Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Australian Government. Archived from the original on 5 September 2006. Retrieved 31 January 2007. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ IBRA Version 6.1 Archived 8 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine data

Further reading

  • Thackway, R and I D Cresswell (1995) An interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia : a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program Version 4.0 Canberra : Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Reserve Systems Unit, 1995. ISBN 0-642-21371-2

21°06′54″S 127°11′33″E / 21.115°S 127.1925°E / -21.115; 127.1925