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We study the dynamics of populations of predators and preys using a mean field approach and a spatial model. The mean field description assumes that the individuals are homogeneously mixed and interact with one another with equal probability, so that space can be ignored. In the spatial model, on the other hand, predators can prey only in a certain neighborhood of their spatial location. We show that the size of these predation neighborhoods has dramatic effects on the dynamics and on the organization of the species in space. In the case of a three species food chain, in particular, the populations of predators display a sequence of apparently irregular outbreaks when the predation neighborhood has intermediate values, as compared to the size of the available space. Nonetheless, further increasing their size makes the outbreaks disappear and the dynamics approach that of the mean field model. Our study of synchronization also shows that the periodic behavior displayed by the average populations in a spatially extended system may hide the existence of patches that oscillate out of phase in a highly coordinated fashion.