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As a potentially competitive technique, erasure coding has been employed in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) to enhance transmission reliability. In this paper, to design a practical and efficient redundancy mechanism in WSNs, we firstly provide a theoretical study of packet delivery probability and average energy consumption for retransmission and redundancy mechanisms. The theoretical results indicate that in WSNs, the adaptive redundancy coding mechanism is more energy efficient than retransmission while keeping the same level of reliability in most scenarios. Then based on the mapping table and two basic design principles obtained from the theoretical analysis, we propose a reliable transport protocol ARRTP which combines the adaptive redundancy mechanism and partial retransmission. The simulation and trace-driven results both verify that when the loss probability varies from low to high, our protocol provides reliability with comparably lower energy consumption. Furthermore, compared with fixed redundancy degrees, the robustness of the adaptive mechanism are also evaluated.