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Two important factors that affect the performance of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are data quality and network lifetime. This paper exploits the tradeoff between data quality and network lifetime to improve data collection precision while the network lifetime is adapted. The problem is to minimize the total error bound for approximate data aggregation in both single-hop and multi-hop WSNs to achieve the adaptive network lifetime. This problem is formulated as an optimization problem by combining the changing pattern of sensor readings, the residual energy of sensor nodes, and the communication cost from the sensor node to the base station. Our method is theoretically analyzed and further evaluated by conducting simulation experiments. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on minimizing the total error bound while achieving the adaptive network lifetime.