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Several proposals describing transport layer protocols for sensor networks appear in the literature. As each proposal is typically evaluated in the context of carefully selected parameters and scenarios, the benefits can be subjective. Also, given the limited details available of different proposals, it is difficult for developers of sensor network applications to select from the range of alternative transport protocols. This paper develops a common basis for evaluation of varied proposals. We first classify and review the existing protocols and evaluate them by measuring their performance in terms of responsiveness and efficiency in a conformal simulation environment and for a wide range of operational conditions. Common sources of poor performance are identified. Based on this experience, a set of design principles for the designers of applications and future transport protocols is presented.