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In wireless sensor networks, the limited energy of the nodes should be utilized in such a way that the performance measure of the sensing application is optimized. In this paper, power-aware design of IR-UWB sensor networks for distributed signal detection is discussed. The design approach consists of two parts which aim at minimizing the global probability of detection error. First, an application-specific node clustering algorithm is performed. Based on the generated topology a resource allocation scheme adapted to distributed detection is carried out. It is based on both, information from the network topology and individual sensor detection quality. Numerical results indicate significant performance gains for sensor networks with realistic resource constraints.