4. The STK Command Line Interface

The STK CLI contains a number of functions for initialising and processing data.

4.1. The basics

The CLI is initialised using:


This will produce:

usage: stk [-h] [-v] [-i]

stk: error: too few arguments

The STK has a number of commands relating to data input and export, processing, and some miscellaneous functions. These are detailed below.

To run a command, e.g. the create matrix function, the command is:

stk create_matrix

This will produce the help for the create matrix function:

usage: stk create_matrix [-h] [-f {hennig,nexus}] [--overwrite] input output
stk create_matrix: error: too few arguments

More detailed help can be obtained using the ‘’‘-h’‘’ flag.

>$ stk create_matrix -h
usage: stk create_matrix [-h] [-f {hennig,nexus}] [--overwrite] input output

positional arguments:
    input                 The input phyml file
    output                The output matrix file

optional arguments:
    -h, --help          show this help message and exit
    -f {hennig,nexus},  --format {hennig,nexus}
                        The format of the matrix. hennig or nexus. Default is
    --overwrite         Overwrite the existing file without asking for

The options can be given with either the long format (–help) or (-h). Not all arguments have both (e.g. –overwrite).

Note the stk itself has three options:

  • -h – help
  • -v – verbose
  • -i – ignore warnings

Note that these must come before the function you want to use. For example this is valid:

stk -v create_matrix

This is not.

stk create_matrix -v

The functions are divided into input/output and processing, with one additional miscellaneous function used for converting data files. Below is a brief description of each function. Use the ‘’‘-h’‘’ flag for information on options and further details of input/output for the function.

4.2. Data input/export

4.2.1. export_bib

Exports a bibliographic file containing the references for all your sources. This output is a standard bibtex file.

4.2.2. export_data

Exports the data to the old STK format. This is directory based, with each source in a separate directory. The sources are split into two files per tree: an XML data file containing the meta-data and a tree file.

4.2.3. export_trees

Export all the trees in the dataset into a single tree file.

4.2.4. import_data

Import data from the old STK format into a Phyml. Note there may be issues with author names which should be in the format of “FirstName1 LastName1 and FirstName2 LastName2”.

4.3. Data processing

4.3.1. clean_data

Remove all non-informative trees and sources from the dataset. These are trees that contain only three or fewer taxa.

4.3.2. create_matrix

Create a Hennig or Nexus matrix using Baum and Ragan coding of all trees in the dataset.

4.3.3. create_subset

Create a subset from your data, specifying various criteria, including year published, characters contained and taxa included.

4.3.4. data_ind

Check your data for adequate data independence. The output is a CSV file that can be opened in a standard spreadsheet package and contains identical and subset categories. It can also give you a new Phyml with non-independent data removed.

4.3.5. data_overlap

Check your data for adequate taxonomic overlap. Optional extras are graphical outputs.

4.3.6. data_summary

Produce a text summary of the data, containing a taxa list, character list and other useful things.

4.3.7. permute_trees

Permute individual trees or all trees containing non-monophyletic taxa (indicated by a ‘%’ symbol). Output is tree file or matrix for analysis.

4.3.8. replace_genera

Replace all generic level taxa with a polytomy of all species of that genus already in the dataset.

4.3.9. safe_taxonomic_reduction

Perform safe taxonomic reduction on the dataset. Output is the equivalency matrix, plus the option to give subs files to safely delete and re-insert taxa

4.3.10. sub_taxa

Substitute or delete taxa from the dataset. Returns a new Phyml.

4.4. Miscellaneous functions

4.4.1. convert_files

Convert a tree file or matrix into Nexus, Newick (tree only) or Hennig (matrix only) formats.