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Cross-layer design for wireless networks aims at optimizing system-wide performance measures by exploiting dependencies between different network layers. In this paper, an opportunistic power assignment algorithms for IR-UWB sensor networks is presented that is especially designed for distributed signal detection under resource constraints. Specifically, the objective is to minimize the global probability of error of distributed detection systems, given a fixed level of total transmission power. The cross-layer approach for the allocation of transmission power is based on individual sensor detection quality as well as location information. It leads to significant performance gains compared to uniform power assignment for both the parallel and the serial sensor network topology.