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For saving energy and balancing the energy load among nodes, an energy-efficient data gathering algorithm (EDGA) based on clustering is proposed in this paper, which is used to gather data in wireless sensor networks. Firstly, the nodes compete for becoming a clusterhead according to residual energy and the distribution of neighbor nodes. Secondly, the clusterhead selects the active nodes according to the demand of coverage, which can reduce energy consumption in a cluster. Finally, the data is transmitted from the clusterhead to sink by a spanning tree rooted at sink. Simulation results show that EDGA significantly outperforms the traditional clustering routing algorithms in terms of energy consumption and network lifetime.