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Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) function with constraints in energy, computation and storage. The real-time monitored sensor data are transmitted to the base station through intermediate nodes. Application-specific protocols are being developed to enhance the functionality and performance of WSNs. WSN topology is classified into three phases: (i) topology construction; (ii) topology control and (iii) topology maintenance. The authors propose Swarm Intelligence (SI)-based topology maintenance for link failure and congestion control in WSN. SI-based models like Particle Swarm Optimisation (PSO) and Ant Colony Optimisation (ACO) are used in topology maintenance. The proposed model is compared with the existing distributed topology control techniques based on neighbour, location and direction attributes for WSNs. SI-based techniques indicate performance improvement in topology as compared to the existing techniques. The proposed SI model for topology maintenance evaluates WSN attributes based on (i) particle position and particle velocity in PSO; (ii) pheromone cost and (iii) forage success rate in ACO. SI-based topology maintenance is based on finding global and local minima during the search process. Simulation results indicate performance improvement in throughput, data transmission rate and average power efficiency in SI techniques as compared to the existing topology maintenance techniques.