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In order to reduce power consumption, many previously proposed MAC protocols for wireless sensor networks (WSNs) use a periodical active/sleep scheme. However, this scheme may not adapt to varying traffic conditions. A new throughput-adaptive MAC protocol (TA-MAC) is proposed in this paper, where overhearing nodes try to notify nodes a few hops away about the current transmission, therefore the latter could get ready when data arrives. Besides, TA-MAC introduces a way to protect data from loss due to the limit of the buffer. Simulation results show that the proposed protocol achieves significant improvements on the throughput, while still ensuring energy efficiency when compared with other MAC protocols designed for WSNs.