I pictured myself as a virus…and tried to sense what it would be like. — Jonas Salk
Ecology as a science evolved from natural history, the observational study of the interactions of plants and animals with each other and their environments. As natural history matured, it became increasingly quantitative, experimental, and taxonomically broad. Focus diversified beyond the Eukarya to include the hidden world of microbial life. Microbes, particularly viruses, were shown to exist in unfathomable numbers, affecting every living organism. Slowly viruses came to be viewed in an ecological context rather than as abstract, disease-causing agents. This shift is exemplified by an increasing tendency to refer to viruses as living organisms instead of inert particles. In recent years, researchers have recognized the critical contributions of viruses to fundamental ecological processes such as biogeochemical cycling, competition, community structuring, and horizontal gene transfer. This review describes virus ecology from a virus’s perspective. If we are, like Jonas Salk, to imagine ourselves as a virus, what kind of world would we experience?