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In this paper, a novel technique is proposed for energy efficient switching transmission scheme in a wireless sensor network (WSN). Distributed sensors can cooperate with the neighborhood and transmit their data to the data collector by choosing a proper transmission mode adaptively based on the channel conditions and distance among the sensors. The analytic performances of two MIMO transmission modes and SIMO can be accessed by investigating the statistical properties of a correlated virtual multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) channel between the sensors and data collector. The energy efficiencies of two MIMO transmission modes namely spatial multiplexing, transmit diversity are also evaluated. Based on these result, a new energy efficient mode switching criterion between spatial multiplexing, transmit diversity and SIMO suitable to a WSN is derived.