We investigate the emergence of spatio-temporal patterns in ecological systems. In particular, we study a generalized predator–prey system on a spatial domain. On this domain diffusion is considered as the principal process of motion. We derive the conditions for Hopf and Turing instabilities without specifying the predator–prey functional responses and discuss their biological implications. Furthermore, we identify the codimension-2 Turing–Hopf bifurcation and the codimension-3 Turing–Takens–Bogdanov bifurcation. These bifurcations give rise to complex pattern formation processes in their neighborhood. Our theoretical findings are illustrated with a specific model. In simulations a large variety of different types of long-term behavior, including homogenous distributions, stationary spatial patterns and complex spatio-temporal patterns, are observed.