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One of the fundamental requirements of energy-constrained wireless sensor networks is to prolong the network lifetime which strongly depends on the data dissemination protocol used. A variety of different energy efficient data dissemination protocols are proposed in recent years. However there is little performance evaluation information on each protocol and no realistic performance comparison in the same scenario between them is available. In this paper, we present the first comprehensive performance evaluation and comparison of agent-based and non-agent based data dissemination protocols. Our simulation study provides useful insights for the network designer such as which data dissemination protocols scale well, reduce overall energy consumption or improve task completion time.